Citation keys

The Better BibTeX Configuration can be found under the regular Zotero preferences pane, tab ‘Better BibTeX’.

The configuration of Better BibTeX is a little baroque compared to the standard Zotero Bib(La)TeX exporters (which only have hidden preferences). The defaults should just work, but here’s an attempt to describe what they do.

Making any change here will drop your entire export cache. This is usually not a problem unless you have a really large library, but you can read about what is involved here.

Citation keys

Citation key format

default: ‚Äč[auth:lower][shorttitle3_3][year]

Set the pattern used to generate citation keys. The format of the keys is documented here.

Force citation key to plain text

default: yes

If you have deviated from the default citation key format pattern by specifying your own, you may wind up with non-ASCII characters in your citation keys. You can prevent that using the fold function at the appropriate place in your pattern, but checking this checkbox will just apply fold to all your keys.

Keeping citation keys unique

Keep keys unique

default: within each library

Auto-generated (non-pinned) keys automatically get a postfix when they would generate a duplicate. By default, the check for duplicates is restricted to the library/group the item lives in. When set to global, the check will include all libraries/groups, so auto-generated keys would be globally unique. Changing this setting does not affect existign keys - for this you would need to select the items and refresh the keys.


  • across all libraries
  • within each library

On conflict with a pinned key, non-pinned keys will be

default: kept (causes key duplicates)

This determines what happens if you pin a key to a value that is already in use in a different reference but not pinned there. Neither are ideal, you just get to pick your poison. If you let BBT change the non-pinned key by adding a postfix character, the citation key changes which could be problematic for existing papers. If you keep the non-pinned key as-is, your library now has duplicate keys.


  • postfixed (causes key changes)
  • kept (causes key duplicates)

Quick copy/drag-and-drop citations

QuickCopy format

default: LaTeX

Used for drag-and-drop/quick copy using Better BibTeX citekeys. In the Zotero “Export” pane, choose Better BibTeX Quick Copy as the default export format for quick copy, and choose the desired format for the drag-and-drop citations here.


LaTeX command

default: cite

Used for drag-and-drop/quick copy citations in LaTeX format. Set the desired LaTeX citation command here. If you set this to citep, drag-and-drop citations will yield \citep{key1,key2,...}

Surround Pandoc citations with brackets

default: no

Used for drag-and-drop/quick copy citations in Pandoc format. You can use this option to select whether you want to have these pandoc citations surrounded with brackets or not.

BibTeX AUX scanner

When scanning an AUX file, attempt to import references from the attached bib file when their citation keys are not in Zotero

default: no

By default, when scanning for cited items in the aux file, BBT will just generate a note listing all citation keys it cannot find in Zotero. When this option is turned on, BBT will attempt to import such missing items from the bib file that the AUX file being scanned points to.