Citations - Troubleshooting and known limitations

Papers features Citations, a powerful new way of adding citations to many different documents and in different applications. Using Citations is easy, just watch our detailed tutorial to find out more about this new feature.

If you are having some trouble using Citations, hopefully this overview will shed some light on potential issues.

Citations in Word: Document not Saved

Some users have reported that when using Citations in Microsoft Word, the program says their document is not saved, when in fact it is. This is a bug for some users where Citations can't recognize the URL of the front document.

Normally, when this happens, you can switch off Citations in the Papers preferences, and then switch it on again, to restore its functionality. If that's not enough, restarting the machine seems to also fix the issue.
If the above does not work, in some rare cases, it appears that the Applescript support in Word is somehow corrupted, as some simple scripts don't work (independently of Papers).

The diagnosis: You can determine whether this is the reason Citations is not working in your case by opening and saving a document in Word, and then running the script MS_Word_-_get_active_document_path.scpt

The solution: Completely reinstall Word and enable Visual Basic. First, completely remove Word 2011, to do so you can follow these instructions.

Citations in Word: Inconsistent Font or Style

In some cases, a bug in Word where pasting text with a specific font can still result in a different font (try it with copying/pasting from TextEdit). The reason is that you have a Word style in that paragraph that asks for a certain font (e.g. the style might be 'Caption' and might be set to have 'Arial Bold 9pt'), but then the paragraph font was 'overridden' manually (e.g. to 'Times 12 pt'). Then even if you paste text that has the correct font for the surrounding text (e.g. 'Times 12 pt', which is what Papers does, it pastes with a font based on the surrounding text), Word still sets it to the style font (in the example that would end up in Arial Bold 9pt).

A similar bug can happen when using the font 'Cambria'. In such a case, a simple workaround is to use another font, or restart your computer (it is only occasionally happening, as far as we can tell).

We have found a workaround that could prevent this in Papers, but that also result in formatting being twice as slow, and it is thus disabled by default. If you want to activate that workaround, please type the following in a Terminal window:

    defaults write com.mekentosj.Citations MTMW2011HandlerWorksAroundStlyedTextInsertion YES

Some users have also reported the issue was fixed by rebooting their Mac in Safe Mode, which seem to clear up the font cache of Microsoft Word. Here are Apple's instructions: "Starting up in Safe Mode". Apple also has some more information about this process: "What is Safe Boot, Safe Mode?"

Citations in Word: Tables

Plain-text citations, or insertion from Citations directly into a table is not working at the moment, for technical reasons. But once you have a field with a citation in Word, it can also be copied and pasted inside a table, and it will then be formatted properly.


If you see this error when you try to format a document, or when you copy as > reference, this suggests that there is a problem with the style file that is being used. Papers periodically refreshes all the styles from the central repository, so you may have caught the app during one of these cycles. Restart the and wait a few minutes, then try again. If you check in your you should see a message "performing a full refresh of styles" coinciding with this operation. You can also make sure that the style you have selected is there by going to Papers > Preferences > styles, then choosing "more styles" from the drop down list.

Citations in Word - Citation is empty

Word relies on "field code" for the citations. Every time you insert a citation there is some hidden code behind it that tells Word what paper it is and some information that it will use to build the bibliography (if you right click on one of the citations and select "toggle field codes" you can make this visible).

The error you received can mean that you may have tried to copy and paste a citation from one area of the text to another but when you did this you may not have captured the entire field code. Another explanation could be that you have tried to delete a single reference from a multiple citation but have left part of the field code behind. The unfortunate effect of this is that the mistake can be replicated wherever that reference is repeated.

Sometimes reformatting the manuscript in a different style, and then back to the original style is enough to resolve the error.

In other cases, you might need to strip the document of the field codes completely and allow Word to recreate them anew. To do this make sure that the document is UNFORMATTED first, then hit cmd+A to select everything, then hit cmd+6 to remove the code. Finally double tap ctrl and try to format the document again.

Failing this, to solve the problem you need to identify where things started to go wrong. To do that I would suggest cutting the document into smaller sections and saving these as separate documents. Then format each one individually. Once you've found the place where things are going awry, you can delete the entire citation and reinsert it. Then it's just a case of putting all the constituent parts back together into a new document and formatting again.

Citation Editing in Word

To edit citations in Word, you should first use the 'Unformat Manuscript' command to bring back the citekeys themselves, similar to what you see in Pages. You can then manually reorder the citations within the brackets and remove or add citations. You can also easily add a publication to an existing citation by appending a new citation right next to the first one, with no space in between the 2, e.g. '{Smith:1999cd}{Doe:2000df}'.

Citations in Word: Unable to Format

If nothing happens when you select 'Format Manuscript', make sure that you have accepted any corrections to the document suggested by Word.

Citation Editing in Other Applications

If you use Pages or one of the other supported text editors to write a manuscript, citations can be edited manually far more easily than in MS Word. For example, if you have added one reference - e.g. {Author1 et al} and want to add another reference you can add the second one next to the first and remove the brackets in between:
Adding in the second reference shows up as {Author1 et al} {Author2 et al}, which you can edit to {Author1 et al, Author2 et al}, and Pages will still format your manuscript correctly.

Footnotes in Pages

It is not currently possible to insert citations as footnotes in Pages. Our development team is working on this but it technically hard to implement. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

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