Sunday, 25 January 2015

Chapter bibliographies with Zotero and Word

A quick post because I just learned how to do this for my own thesis. Not a pretty post because I need to finish my thesis. But in the meantime...

Have a separate file containing each section (i.e. chapter, supplement, appendix, whatever) that needs its own bibliography. You can edit these later if you need to; don't worry. This isn't all of my files, but I wanted to test it out first. Originally I assembled my thesis is one big file, so I had to split it apart into the subdocuments *groan*

Create a master document. It should have your front matter (e.g., title page, tables of contents, figures, tables, etc) plus anything else that doesn't need a bibliography (e.g. preface, acknowledgments). This master document should have all formatting set up, e.g. margins, header and footers. Although I'm sure you can edit it later.

I find it easier to do this stuff when I can see formatting marks, so I click the "paragraph" symbol.

Within the master document, insert multiple section breaks, with several paragraph breaks between them. U.Laval requires 1) that odd and even pages look different, and 2) that new sections start on an odd page. Therefore, I created multiple "odd page" section breaks like so:

With your cursor in between two of the section breaks, change the view to Outline View.

You should now see any text from your front matter, plus a bunch of section breaks. I've blurred the text of my Preface to avoid distraction.

Click Show Document.
Then Insert.

Browse for your next section (general introduction in my case), then Open.

Your subdocument should now be inserted. If you Close Outline View, you should see the text of the subdocument (e.g., General Introduction) within your master document.

What's more, Word somehow knows to update the table of contents, page numbers, etc with appropriate content from the subdocuments. Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me. 

The really awesome part is that if you need to make revisions (haha, "if"), you don't need to find each file individually. You can use the master document to open each sub document. First click "Show Document" in the Outline View. 

Then click the little icon to the left of the "+" sign. This will open up the original sub document file. Any changes you make (and then save) will be updated in the master document. 

That's as far as I've gotten so far, but it seems like it should work for the remainder of my thesis. I'll edit with an update when I've finished, if I have any extra remarks to add.

Update: Well I discovered that it's perfectly fine (maybe even encouraged) to have a single reference section at the end of the thesis. That's even better. Although the subdocument approach looked promising, it was finicky and tricky. I got the impression that it would be easiest to insert chapters with the last one first, and work my way backwards. 


  1. Hi Nicole, I'm working on my civil engr/wood sci. master's thesis at Oregon State. I came across your this post as I was hoping to have separate bibliographies in my thesis--one for the "whole" thesis and then one for each "manuscript" included in my thesis (even though there is only one manuscript). I will have different introductions that cite different sources for the whole thesis and for the manuscript embedded in the thesis.

    I'm a little confused on what your concluding update was saying. Did you end up having more than one bibliography or not? Mine is actually labeled "references" at the end of the manuscript and then "bibliography" at the end of the thesis.

  2. Hi Kyle, Sorry to be confusing!

    I ended up with a single bibliography. MUCH easier to handle, and preferred by the university administration. You can view the finished thesis here:

    You might want to check with Oregon State's (or your department's) recommended formats. A double set of references might be frowned upon.

  3. Thanks for the response! I started researching this after going over my thesis outline with my advisor and seeing that the format he wanted had two ref/bibliographies sections. I'll check to make sure he wants that but if that's the case do you think my best bet is following what you did above? Thanks again :)

    1. The best approach will depend on what you use for your citation software. If you use Zotero, then yes I think this is the only way (It's the only I found), even if it is clunky.

      An alternative would be to create a bibliography for each chapter in separate documents and then copy and paste-as-text into a single document. But then the bibliography isn't live and you'd have to re-edit it any time you changed a reference.

      A third option would be to have several separate files, each with their own live bibliography. And then you manually change the page numbers on each so that they appear continuous when you link them in a PDF. But that's really clunky.

      In short: I don't think there's an awesome solution. But the solution I described above seems to be the only way to do what I wanted: keeping the chapter bibliographies live while keeping all chapters in one file.

      NOW... I don't know if the above solution will work for your situation because I don't know if a final "total thesis bibliography" can be generated from the inserted documents. I suggest you test it out with some small test documents (e.g., a sentence with two example citations and a bibliography) before you commit to replicating it with your whole thesis!

      Best of luck and I'd like to hear if it works or not, if you don't mind!