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.


default: yes

BibTeX has really spotty Unicode support, so you generally want this on. It will translate things like accented characters to their equivalent LaTeX constructs on export.

Disregard name prefixes when sorting

default: no

Name handling is a lot more complex than I had ever thought it to be. A lot more complex. BibTeX has really limited ways of dealing with names with particles (van, von, de, etc). If you turn this on, BBT will add code to have van Gogh sorted under Gogh.

Add URLs to BibTeX export

default: no

Most BibTeX styles do not support DOI/URL fields. Of the styles that do support them, many forget to load the required ‘url’ package, so make sure to load it yourself. DOI and URL fields are so-called ‘verbatim’ fields, and without the ‘url’ package loaded compilation will likely fail.


  • no
  • in a note field
  • in a URL field


Export unicode as plain-text latex commands

default: no

BibLaTeX actually has really good Unicode support, so you generally want this off. But for some geezers such as me it is simply more pleasing to have things like accented characters translated to their equivalent LaTeX constructs on export.

Use BibLaTeX extended name format (requires biblatex 3.5)

default: no

Use the extended biber 2.7 format for names with particles - only works in BibLaTeX 3.5 or later. This biblatex has a new (less ambiguous) way to store creator names. It’s technically superior, but the LaTeX world moves slowly, so many people won’t have it yet. But if you’re an early adopter, you can enable it here


When a reference has both a DOI and a URL, export

default: both

Does what it says on the tin, really. If a reference has both a DOI and an URL, you can choose to have them both exported, or either one of them. Note that for BibTeX, you must load the url package when you have doi or url fields. doi and url fields are so-called verbatim fields with different escaping rules, and BibTeX compilation will likely error out without the package loaded.


  • both
  • DOI
  • URL

Fields to omit from export (comma-separated)

default: <not set>

If there are some fields you don’t want in your bibtex files (such as note for example), add a list of them here, separated by comma’s.

Include JabRef-specific metadata:

default: no

Export JabRef-specific fields: timestamps, and groups for each collection and item is part of. Note that format 4 will disable caching in exports, which is really undesirable specifically for auto-exports.


  • no
  • for JabRef 3
  • for JabRef 4


Automatically abbreviate journal title if none is set explicitly

default: no

If set, generates journal abbreviations on export using the Zotero journal abbreviator, according to the abbreviation style selected in the list below the checkbox.

Abbreviation style:

default: <not set>

Select the style for auto-abbreviation. Only applicable to Juris-M; in Zotero, the style for automatic abbreviation is not configurable.

Include comments about potential problems with the references

default: no

Generate quality reports for exported references. These show up only in BibTeX and BibLaTeX report formats and indicate things like missing required fields and duplicate citation keys.

Include automatic tags in export

default: yes

Some importers or Zotero extensions (such as the ShortDOI manager for example) create tags on items that are more for item management than that they are descriptive of the item. When this is off, such tags will not be included in the export.

When converting to plain-text latex commands:

default: Minimize the number of switches between math-mode and text-mode

When a unicode character can be exported as either a math-mode or text-mode command, map to:

  • minimal-packages: if both a math-mode and a text-mode mapping is available, use the version that does not require extra packages to be loaded.
  • conservative: if both a math-mode and a text-mode mapping is available, stay in the mode of the previously mapped character if possible. This minimizes the number of generated $s in the output.
  • text: if both a math-mode and a text-mode mapping is available, prefer text.
  • math: if both a math-mode and a text-mode mapping is available, prefer math.


  • Minimize additional latex packages required
  • Minimize the number of switches between math-mode and text-mode
  • Prefer text-mode replacements
  • Prefer math-mode replacements

Automatic export

default: On Change

Determines when automatic exports are kicked off. Having it disabled still marks auto-exports as needing updates, so when you re-enable it, those exports will start. On-change means exports happen whenever a reference in the export changes/is added/is removed. On idle does more or less what Disabled (that is, no exports but mark as needing changes), but will kick off exports when your computer is idle. You mostly want this if your computer is performance-constrained (aka slow).


  • Disabled
  • On Change
  • When Idle