BUG in Writer LO Zotero integrator in master document for multiple citations

Dear community,

I found a bug using Zotero in Writer with master documents and multiple citations.


  1. Open 2 new .odt documents and add some multiple citations ("Add/Edit Citations) both followed by some text
  2. When prompt, choose IEEE style. Save them before proceeding. They should look something like “[1]-[n]” in each .odt
  3. Create a master document .odm and insert the two .odt
  4. OPTIONAL: you can insert a new text field and press “Add/Edit Bibliography”
  5. Press “Refresh” from the Zotero-integration toolbar. The two multiple citations have now subsequent incremental numbering (e.g. [1]-[5] in the first document, [6]-[10] in the second)
  6. The text after the second citation ([6]-[10] in the example) disappears, and the citation changes layout.

All text in the paragraph after a multiple citation (i.e. [1]-[10] in IEEE style) disappears upon triggering “Refresh”, and the layout is broken. The item is handled correctly when it is in the FIRST document (and therefoer follows the same numbering as in the original odt); the problem arises just when the item is in the SECOND or LATER document (i.e when the “Refresh” tries to update the local citation number to the global one, different from the original document).

I have already posted a request on Zotero forum, but they don’t have enough people to work on issues related to master documents. I found it quite critical to have this very basic feature working.

LO encourages using master documents, but Zotero doesn’t. Scientific writing requires a powerful bibliography tool, and the LO master document workflow style is very practical. This bug is very annoying and could be a major drawback in the spreading of LO In the scientific community because of the popularity of Zotero.

Te single (i.e. [1]) and double (i.e. [1], [2]) citations are working correctly, as well as the bibliography.

Is anybody experiencing the same problem? Has anyone found a fix/workaround that does not involve copy and paste all the separate .odt into a main .odt?

Having worked on a question about Zotero (but can’t find it quickly), I discovered Zotero does a mean job by not following ODF structure. All its additions to the document are completely managed separately from Writer. From Zotero point of view, it has the advantage of being independent from the office suite and being portable. But in Writer, it messes up the structure when it comes to sophisticated formatting and structuring.

It also works by firing macros which, for me, is synonym for direct formatting and this conflicts with automation through the styles machinery.

IMHO, whenever possible, avoid Zotero and work with built-in Bibliography feature. It is integrated in Writer and highly configurable. Maybe you could find a parametrization covered most if not all Zotero features.

IMHO, LO has a decent tool for citations and bibliography, but dedicated pieces of software as Zotero manages the bibliographic entries in a superior way. I will suggest again to the Zotero people to have a look, it seems to me absurd that two open source project like these wouldn’t collaborate more tightly.

I think Zotero and Writer bibliography address different audiences or needs. What I like in Writer bib is the use of a database. Zotero tries to follow more closely publication standards but the flaw (or perhaps clumsiness to be more tolerant) is to mix entry content with the citations. This approach creates a lot of formatting and entry maintenance issues.

I agree with you about collaboration goals.

As far as I can remember my analysis in the other question, Zotero bibliography is stored in the document. Writer bibliography is stored in database in the user profile. Thus, it is available to all documents. When you have a master, the master sees the same bibliography as the sub-documents.

With Zotero, can you create your entries separately? What happens if the bibliography is created in the master? This should fix the issue when documents are merged. However, the access to the bibliography when you edit a sub-document could be difficult.

The problem is not with the bibliography, which is perfectly generated in the master document, but at the SECOND and subsequent multiple citations (e.g [x]-[y]) upon refreshing. Those elements contain more than two citations. When such an element is in the first document, it is successfully generated, but when it is in the 2nd or higher document, the problems arises. I should probably specify this better in the description.

Pour ma part avec zotero et libreoffice, il m’est aussi impossible de constituer une bibliographie sur mon document maitre .odm.

Il y a vraiment un problème!

First remark: this is not a solution to the initial question and shoud be stated as a comment, so please, do.

Second remark: data flow in “composite” documents is sub-document → master. If Zotero information is stored in the master, it is not visible in the sub-document when you write it. Maybe you should sophisticate a bit your workflow by basing all your documents, including the master, on a template. This has the advantage of guaranteeing consistency of formatting through the use of shared styles. But a template can also contain data. You could put the Zotero citation database in the template and see how it goes.
Since I’m not using Zotero, I can’t tell which trick you should apply so that the Zotero DB is effectively there but does not show any text (probably applying a specific paragraph style with attribute Hidden to any initialisation blocks).
When you want to manage your Zotero DB, you modify the template, but if this results in static text, your documents won’t be automatically updated on next open (only styles are updated). So, you need to investigate on how Zotero manages the citations. If it does it through macros, then you may have a chance it works.