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.

You can edit most Better BibTeX preferences through the Preferences window in Zotero. However, Better BibTeX supports additional hidden preferences. These settings are intended for more advanced use.


To view the full list of Better BibTeX’s preferences, including many hidden preferences, go to the Advanced pane of the Zotero preferences and click “Config Editor”. Enter “better-bibtex” into the Filter field at the top of the list that comes up. Preferences that can be safely changed by users are described below.

The Better BibTeX hidden preferences are preceded by “extensions.zotero.translators.better-bibtex.”


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: 10

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


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: <not set>

a JSON mapping from single character to raw LaTeX, to augment the default mapping; these will be applied when you export as ASCII. DO NOT edit this preferencedirectly, but create a CSV (not semicolons) file named charmap.csv in the zotero data directory under the better-bibtex folder with columns unicode (the source character), text (representation in LaTeX text mode, if any) and math (representation in LaTeX math mode, if any, without dollar signs).


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, detect URLs in non-standard bib(la)tex fields and import them as attachments


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: <not set>

On import, import note-like fields in this comma-separated list to the extra field, unless the note has rich text.


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 items have changed, but if BBT then actually retrieves those same items, 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 items.


default: <not set>

Any characters entered here will prefer a math-mode LaTeX-command counterpart over a text-mode mapping, if a math-mode command is available.


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.


default: <not set>

Some LaTeX commands only work when certain packages are loaded. By default, BBT will export Bib(La)TeX that requires no extra packages, but you can provide a comma-separated list here of packages to load to get higher fidelity export (for some admittedly niche characters). Details of these packages and what they add can be found [here]({{ ref . “exporting/unicode.md” }}).


default: yes

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


default: dateadded=dateAdded, date-added=dateAdded, datemodified=dateModified, date-modified=dateModified

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).


default: <not set>

Snippet of javascript to run [after each entry generation]({{ ref . “exporting/scripting.md” }}).


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: and

Separator between list elements in list-type fields. You will need to add --listsep='|' to your biber calls.


default: and

Separator between author names. You will need to add --namesep='|' to your biber calls.


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: <not set>

If you have externally maintained @string vars paste them here and they will be resolved for subsequent imports. These should be entered as @string declarations, such as @string{IEEE_J_PWRE = "{IEEE} Transactions on Power Electronics"}, not just the var name.


default: <not set>

You can use a custom @string list per export directory:

  1. Edit the hidden preference stringstOverride, and set it to a filename like strings.bib
  2. In the directory where you intend to export to, create a file called strings.bib (or whatever you set the preference to) and add the @string declarations you want there
  3. Export to that directory.

A strings override will disable caching for that export.


default: url,doi,file,pdf,ids,eprint,/^verb[a-z]$/,groups,/^citeulike-linkout-[0-9]+$/, /^bdsk-url-[0-9]+$/, keywords

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.