Private Beta: New Google Docs Add-on

We’ve been working on a new Google Docs add-on for quite some time. While it still lacks a few key features, it is ready to test and we would appreciate early feedback.

To install the add-on go to the (currently still private) listing in the Google Docs add-on store:

A bit of background about this new add-on:

  • It is not meant to replace our current plugin which is still the fastest way to insert citations and can be used in parallel with the new add-on.
  • It allows us to implement features which have not been technically possible (e.g. export for Endnote/Word, “unformat” of citations, remove of citations links or replacing them with more useful web links)
  • It only uses official Google APIs so it is fully supported by Google and in case our current plugin breaks it serves as a fallback.
  • It works on every browser, will be available for free and does not require a Paperpile account. That should facilitate collaboration and extend Paperpile’s reach.

Hey Stefan,

Its not apparent to me how I can replace paperpile links with web links direct to the reference in the Bibliography. Is there an option for this?

No, this is not implemented. I just mentioned it as something we could do in principle now (it was technically impossible before). I’m sorry, I understand how much you would like to see this feature rather sooner than later.

Looks great so far. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Since you have to click on a reference in the results box to cite
    it, it would be nice if simply clicking it again would remove it.
    Currently, you have to click the “X” on the light blue bar that
    appears below. Not suggesting getting rid of the X option, but
    on/off clicking seems more user-friendly.

Now, why would I click on something I don’t want, you ask? Because
I assumed that doing so would give me more options to see.
In particular, I was hoping to see the abstract to help me determine
if the selected reference was appropriate.

  • It would be great if I could see the abstract of a given article
    as I’m browsing the results of a search. My preference is that you’d see it
    automatically (but could turn on or off in settings). There would seem to
    be room for an abstract given that the add-on takes up the entire height of
    the screen anyway, and most of the real estate isn’t used.

By the way, I’d also like to see the abstract over on the right side panel
in the full paperpile app too. Again, there seems to be the real estate, at least
on my screen.


Thanks for your suggestions.

As for removing a citation when clicking on it again: This should work. When you click on an item that is cited (it shows a green check) it should go away again. This does not work for you?

Re: abstract. Actually that’s on our list for something we want to add. We are not that flexible what we can do in a a UI that is so restricted in space but we’ll try our best.

Nope. It does not seem to work on either my mac at home or my windows machine at work. When you click the first time, the reference appears in the paper, and the green check mark appears. When you click a second (or third, etc) time, you see a very quick (on the order of 50ms) flash of a new blue bar, and then it disappears. It is as though the program thinks you want to add the reference again, and then realizes its “mistake” and deletes it, but it does not delete the original. I’ve tried clicking in multiple locations in the search results box (i.e., on the green check, on the title, etc.) with no luck.

Thanks, I can reproduce. It works if you want to cite/uncite a paper that is already in the document but no for a paper that is already in your library. We’ll have a look what’s going wrong there.

The add-on looks great and I love the compatibility with other browsers as well. As Firefox is my main browser, being able to use my Paperpile library is extremely useful.

I may have missed something obvious, but I noticed an odd behavior:
When highlighting a citation within the document, I cannot figure a reliable way to have the actual reference to be highlighted on the right panel (inside the blue-ish ellipse) and highlighted on the list of references present in the document. Sometimes the reference appears above the “set style” and “format citations” buttons, but most of the times it does not.
Am I missing something obvious?
I noticed it in Chrome. In Firefox, I never had the reference cited is never highlighted nor selected.


Thanks for testing Florian!

Good catch. It seems you are describing a known issue we are aware of. Basically you can put the cursor over a citation and it will be picked up by the add-on. However, if you select the whole citation it is currently not picked up. It’s on our list and we will fix this.

This extension works great for me! I’m looking forward to hopefully having LaTeX options in Google Docs, since that’s what I’m generally working with.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks for the details. In my case, it seems like it is not systematically picked up even when hovering the cursor over the citation… Maybe it is due to some sort of lag? (I noticed that the citation could take a little bit to appear sometimes).

Thanks for the good work!

Yes, the lag is exactly 3 seconds. Unfortunately there is no way to get notified when the cursor position changes, so the only way is to check every N seconds and N is currently 3.

It’s much more intuitive with the box on the right than the separate tab of “all references” in the old addon!

Hi Stefan,

For me (as you suggest in intro) it doesn’t replace the current plugin for quickly adding inline citations - the lag feels really long, and I was often second guessing whether it was being added or not.

It would be nice if it recognised the current citation style already being used. I tried it on a current doc and it inserted in a completely different style.

I can see it being really useful from the point of view of having all current ref’s easily accessible. I often want to remind myself about an article text, so having it one click away is nice - it would be great if as well as the “Edit | Website” options there was “Open PDF in paperpile” or similar option to quickly bring up the PDF if it exists - this could work great with the PDF annotation app.

Similar to @florian above, the behavior with hover on a citation feels a bit incomplete. I think identifying it with the “blue tag” is great, but it would be good if the list changed focus to the article(s) to facilitate (for eg) rapidly clicking on it to see the pdf etc etc - or perhaps the “Blue tag” could be more useful (rather than just allowing some minor citation edits) and clicking on it would focus to the article in the list above or present an option to click through to the website/pdf etc. At present, you have to scroll through to find the green check mark.

At the moment, clicking anywhere in individual citation “box” immediately adds it as a citation and one has to click on the small ellipsis to expand the “options”. It would feel cleaner to me to have to click on the " or a check mark to add it as a citation (making it very explicit) with clicking “anywhere” expanding the options?

I guess all my comments are trying to make a “citation manager” do more than that, and act a bit more like a research/article manager? I’m not sure if that’s what your looking at doing, but it felt like it could easily turn in to that (which would be great!).

Thanks for all your great work - paperpile is fantastic.

Thanks so much David for your feedback. We really appreciate that. There are some good points we have not considered so far.

The short answer is that this little add-on is the most challenging thing we have done so far. The lag is just not under our control and there are many other technical limitations we need to work around to make this a good experience. Also UI wise it’s not always easy to find the right balance between the bare bone citation box you know from our main plugin and a full featured reference manager like Paperpile.

The main idea is to have something useful for non-Paperpile users that can be used without sign-up and without a browser extension just by installing the add-on. At the same time it should be fully compatible with existing Paperpile users and eventually offering some new value. Let’s see where this goes. Thanks again!

Hey guys, I notice that when I copy a Google Doc, the references in the copy are not recognized by the plugin until I click on the citation(s) in the document.

Otherwise, I’m really liking the new interface in this plugin. Very nice to have the references listed in the side panel.

First of all, thank you for adding BibTeX support!

When I export I format citations in BibTeX format, the in-line references don’t work when there are multiple papers.



I don’t believe placing underscores between the reference results in a valid TeX format (at least for me, it’s an invalid reference). I may not be the valid use case for this, but what I’d like to be able to do is format the citations, then copy and paste into my LaTeX file and compile it. To do that, I need it to format in the following way:


How did you export?

We’ve added a new LaTeX/BibTeX export feature under “Export”. It will create a new copy of your document and insert the citations like that: \cite{Axelsson_1999,Forrest_Hofmeyr_Somayaji_Longstaff_1996}

That should be valid LaTeX. I’m not sure how you get the result you pasted above.

Admittedly, I may be doing it wrong. I changed the citation style to BibTeX under Paperpile->Citation Style. Then I clicked Paperpile->Format Citations. That gives me the strangely-formatted underscored citations.

Clicking Paperpile->Export->References as BibTeX gives me a bib without the LaTeX citation strings (\cite). I don’t have a LaTeX/BibTex export… maybe I am on the wrong version?

“Export > References > BibTex” will export a BibTex file. That does not include the document with the LaTeX citation codes. You need also to do “Export > Document > BibTeX citation codes”

Then you have a document with LaTeX citations corresponding to the BibTeX references in the bib file.