Hidden preferences

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.

The following settings are not exposed in the UI, but can be found under Preferences/Advanced/Config editor. Zotero knows these as hidden parameters.


default: <not set>

If you have unicode turned on you can still selectively replace some characters to plain-text commands; any characters entered here will always be replaced by their LaTeX-command counterparts.


default: 5

If you have auto-exports set up, BBT will wait this many seconds before actually kicking off the exports to buffer multiple changes in quick succession setting off an unreasonable number of auto-exports. Minimum is 1 second. Changes to this preference take effect after restarting Zotero.


default: 10

Number of seconds to wait after your system goes idle before kicking off auto-exports.


default: 0

When > 0, BBT will automatically pin the first citation keys it generates for an item after this many seconds.


default: yes

Support for EDTF dates in biblatex


default: 5

How often the Better BibTeX database should be saved to disk. Defaults to once every 5 seconds. Note that your database is always saved when your computer goes idle, or when you exit Zotero.


default: no

Replaces the “note” field with the bibtex key during citation rendering in Word/Libreoffice. Main use-case is to help migrating word documents to pandoc. This setting only takes effect during startup, so if you change it, you will have to restart Zotero to have this take effect (or to disable it. Please disable it when done). You will need to use a custom CSL style (such as this) to make this work. Have Zotero generate the bibliography, which will put the citation keys in the Word/LibreOffice document, which can then be passed through pandoc.


default: <not set>

if you set csquotes to a string of character pairs, each pair will be assumed to be the open and close parts of a pair and will be replaced with a \\enquote{...} construct.


default: config

Can be off, config or always


default: yes

Use BBTs importer instead of Zotero’s importer


default: yes

On import, assign the existing citation key to the item being imported


default: yes

On import, place all bib(la)tex field Zotero doesn’t have an existing field for in the Zotero extra field of the item


default: ignore

What to do when encountering a TeX command the parser does not know about. Please only use values:

  • ignore: ignore the command entirely * tex: import and mark as TeX code, so on re-export it will be output as-is * text: import without marking it as TeX code, so on re-export it will be treated as regular text


default: 5

I’ve had reports where Zotero notifies extensions that references have changed, but if BBT then actually retrieves those same references, Zotero complains they “haven’t been saved yet”. Super. This preference sets the number of microseconds BBT should wait after being notified before acting on the changed references.


default: <not set>

Any characters entered here will prefer a math-mode LaTeX-command counterpart over a math-mode, if a math-mode command is available. Only useful when mapUnicode is conservative.


default: <not set>

Any characters entered here will prefer a text-mode LaTeX-command counterpart over a math-mode, if a text-mode command is available. Only useful when mapUnicode is conservative. Characters specified in mapMath take presedence over characters specified in mapText.


default: yes

New translators installed in Zotero are not immediately usuable for drag-and-drop. If you want to use BBT for drag-and-drop (e.g. to drag and drop citation keys or citations), you will be asked whether you want to restart after installation, or whether you want to reinstall when it is more convenient to you. You will be asked this whenever the BBT translators update, but you can disable this by checking “Do not ask again” in that dialog.


default: yes

Name particle handling. Only turn on when requested and we’re talking about it on github.


default: <not set>

Import translators cannot set the date-added and date-modified of the items that are imported, they always get the current time as their date-added. BBT will leave fields it can’t map as tex.[field] in the extra field of the item. If you enter a list of comma-separated field mappings here, like date-added = dateAdded, timestamp=dateModified, BBT will offer a menu option to remove them from the extra field and set the corresponding date of the item to their values, assuming they can be parsed as simple dates (no circa and stuff). The default mappings tex.dateadded=dateadded, tex.datemodified=datemodified are always active.


default: <not set>

You can use a custom postscript per export directory:

  1. Edit the hidden preference postscriptOverride, and set it to a filename like postscript.js 2. In the directory where you intend to export to, create a file called postscript.js (or whatever you set the preference to) and add the postscript you want there 3. Export to that directory.

A postscript override will disable caching for that export.


default: <not set>

You can use custom preferences per export directory:

  1. Edit the hidden preference preferencesOverride, and set it to a filename like preferences.json 2. In the directory where you intend to export to, create a file called preferences.json (or whatever you set the preference to), or called [bibfile you are exporting to].json and add the desired preference overrides in the format {"override": "preferences": {"skipFields": "note"}}. You can get your current preferences by exporting to BetterBibTeX JSON and removing everything except config.preferences, and renaming config to override. 3. Export to that directory.

A preferences override will disable caching for that export.


default: no

When you set this on, BBT will import bib files leaving any LaTeX commands as-is, and add the #LaTeX tag for raw re-exports.


default: #LaTeX

When an item has this tag, all its fields will be assumed to hold raw LaTeX and will undergo no further transformation. If you set this to *, all items will be assumed to have raw LaTeX.


default: no

When exporting a Bib(La)TeX file, if the attachments are stored anywhere under the directory the bibliography is exported to, use relative paths to those attachments. Caching is disabled when this option is on, so it affects performance.


default: a,ab,aboard,about,above,across,after,against,al,along,amid,among,an,and,anti,around,as,at,before,behind,below,beneath,beside,besides,between,beyond,but,by,d,da,das,de,del,dell,dello,dei,degli,della,dell,delle,dem,den,der,des,despite,die,do,down,du,during,ein,eine,einem,einen,einer,eines,el,en,et,except,for,from,gli,i,il,in,inside,into,is,l,la,las,le,les,like,lo,los,near,nor,of,off,on,onto,or,over,past,per,plus,round,save,since,so,some,sur,than,the,through,to,toward,towards,un,una,unas,under,underneath,une,unlike,uno,unos,until,up,upon,versus,via,von,while,with,within,without,yet,zu,zum

list of words to skip in title when generating citation keys


default: popup

Zotero takes a few seconds to start up, which is sometimes mistakenly attributed to BBT. BBT will tell you what phase the startup process is in (of Zotero and BBT) to prevent support requests for something that I cannot change. Please only use values:

  • popup: show a popup during startup * progressbar: show a progressbar in the top of the frame


default: url,doi,file,ids,eprint,verba,verbb,verbc,groups

list of fields to treat as verbatim during import. If you’re importing e.g. Mendeley-generated BibTeX, which is out of spec in various ways, try removing file from this list before import.


default: no

Both Zotero and BBT expect titles to be in sentence-case, but a lot of sites offer import data that is Title Cased. When exporting these titles to bib(la)tex you’re going to get a lot of extra unwanted braces, because all these Title Cased words will look like proper nouns to BBTs own title-casing mechanism. When this setting is on, you will be warned when you import/save items in Zotero with titles that look like they’re Title Cased, so that you can inspect/correct them.

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.

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]({{ ref . “citing” }}).