Error: duplicating references


Now that I’ve gotten 20 references, if I try to cite a reference (say reference number 16), then Paperpile will not reference the same reference number (16) that it does earlier and will instead make a new reference (number 21) so I will have duplicate references. Can you please fix this? Thanks!


I’m having the same problem. May have been because my collaborator worked on the document as a separate .doc, then I applied their changes to my googledoc and each of the references that overlapped made a duplicate.

Would love a fix or even a workaround for the meantime.


I have the same problem only it occurs whenever I open by document on a different machine than I’m currently working on. I’ve gone from a bibliography with 36 items to 53 just from duplicate & triplicate copies of my references! Manually merging them in a huge pain.

Please fix this!


I also have this problem!


Yes please fix this, or provide a straightforward solution.


I have the same issue.


Hi, I’m having the same problem with duplication of references.
Did anybody find a way or receive an answer to solve that?
Thanks, Valentina


We have figured out how this is most likely happening: when creating a copy of a document, the sidebar is unable to detect duplicates until the document has been formatted at least once. The current best workaround is to always run “Update Citations and Bibliography” after making a copy of a Google Doc.

For existing errors, please remove all in-text citations, go to the gear in the sidebar --> Manage references. Then remove one of the duplicates and re-insert the citations.


I am having the same problem, but this is not fixed by the above suggestions.


The “View all references/Manage References” page will always reflect the current (and past) citations in the document following a formatting. If there are not duplicate entries there, then there will be none in the bibliography. Are you sure that you have removed the duplicate from this page?


hey, just to confirm if I get this right

  • the problem is: multiple co-authors contributing the identical references to the document will cause duplictes in the reference list after formatting (which what I am facing).
  • the workaround is to unformat citations, remove all in-text citations (manually by going through the text?) and reinserting them all again?


In general, when you add a citation to a document we check it against the existing references in the document and don’t allow you to add duplicates.

However, in some cases we have limited or outdated knowledge about which references are in the document, and this can result in duplicates:

  1. Copying references from another document. When you paste text and references from another document, we are not immediately aware of it - we only become aware of it when you format citations, at which point we retrieve the metadata. This may result in duplicates because we make no prioritization among recognized and unrecognized references when formatting the document.

  2. Adding references to a copy of a document before it has been formatted. This is similar to the above case. When you make a copy of a document, we are not aware that it contains citations (since we don’t want to process every document you open). It is therefore possible to add duplicates of citations already in the document. From our point of view, it seems like you are writing a new document, then when you format citations, like you copied in all the paragraphs/references from the old document, leading to the same problem. This second cause can be avoided by always formatting a document when you make a copy.

Note that the common use case of colleagues working on the same document does not result in duplicates.

When stuck with duplicates this may be the easiest solution:

  1. Go to the view all references page. Locate the duplicate you want to remove and edit its metadata to something which will clearly identify it (i.e. change the year to 9999).

  2. Format the citations in the document.

  3. Remove all copies of the duplicate citation from the text (manually).

  4. Remove the undesired copy of that citation from the (“View all references”) page.

  5. Re-insert the removed citations as normal.


I am trying not to be rude, but it is very… surprising to me that a piece of paid software has such a huge issue, and there is no easier fix than the complicated procedure of removing duplicates and re-inserting them. For a substantial manuscript, this is hours of work to get right, and the stakes are high. Perhaps an effective solution would be to add some feature to merge references / citation keys, e.g. from the “View all references” page.

I unfortunately started this current project using Paperpile, and so it is very difficult to switch away now. But I can’t imagine using it again for future projects, due to the number of headaches this issue has caused. Judging based on the comments above, I am not the only one with this problem. Asking your (paying) users to go through an /incredibly/ tedious process to correct this error does not seem like a fair response.