Some thoughts on citation modifiers

Some ideas on working with citation modifiers in Google Docs:

  1. Suppress author is super, but it would also be great to have suppress date and/ or to format as Author (date) in the text, which is normal in many disciplines (especially the social sciences).

  2. Exclude brackets. Sometimes there is a need to exclude brackets, especially when listing references in a table.

  3. Forgetting modifiers. I don’t see the use case for remembering modifiers. As Paperpile is at the moment, if I cite (see Smith, 2000 p.3), the next time I want to cite the Smith 2000 paper, the “see” and “p. 3” will be included by default. I have never had the need to include the same modifiers the next time I cite a reference and always have the extra work of deleting my modifiers. I suggest that each time a reference is cited, the modifiers are zeroed out as the selected modifiers, if any, are likely to be different.


We have some ideas/plans how to improve 1. It comes up now and then in support conversations and it’s definitely something that can be improved.

We have never thought about (2) and did not get a single request for it until today. The use case for tables makes sense when you have a dedicated “reference” column. I’d assume that’s rare to begin with and most users just don’t care enough if there are brackets or not.

For 3 I have to admit I was not aware that this is actually the current behaviour. We have to follow up on that one.

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Are there any updates on these? I would definitely like to put in my vote for features 1 and 2. I could definitely use the excluding brackets one, since my field uses a lot of abbreviations. When we need to clarify an abbreviation and put a citation in at the same time we have to do something like: “children with amnesia and acquired brain injury (ABI; CITATION HERE)”. I guess it is possible to put the abbreviation as a prefix to the first citation, but it would be nice to have the abbreviation independent of the citations in case another one is added that changes the order or the citation needs to be removed.

No updates yet, but all these issues are very fresh on our mind as we are creating our Word plugin.

It’s a fresh start it gives us room to experiment with better citation features and apply what we’ve learnt so far. Of course the plan is to bring this back to Google Docs eventually.

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I’m curious about the Word plugin; is this for the desktop version of Word (Mac or PC), or the Office Online web-based version of Word, or all three?

I really dislike word, and try to do all my writing in Google Docs (or LaTeX) and make Word documents as the last possible step. But sometimes I have to collaborate with people who insist on using Word. As a Chromebook user, try to avoid that as much as as I can, use the online Word when possible, and use the desktop version only when I literally have no other choice.

I believe this is similar to what I’ve been needing. Sometimes I need to adjust citations so they are in the format of
(Author, 2000, p. 12; see also Author3, 2015; Author4, 2013).

Or I would like to add “e.g.” or “i.e.” inside the parenthesis at the beginning of the citation. I can do it manually…but then if I update the reference list it reverts back to the default format.

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I frequently need 2 (Exclude brackets) - the prefix and postfix options are good, but sometimes, the text that should be in bracket is longer and requires formatting in which case the option to drop brackets would be much more convenient.

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It’s close to unusable without the option to exclude brackets. This happens far too often in academic papers to not be included.

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@fgeorge, @Mikolaj_Magnuski - just wanted to drop a line here to confirm your +1s were added to the topic on our tracker. No timeline to share for this at the moment, although the citation dialogue is currently being worked on and will include some updates when released.

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+1 to citations without brackets

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+1 for making citations without brackets possible, I manually removing the brackets when I did not need them but after I reformatted the citations, everything became messed up.


+1 for supressing brackets. Presenting authors in a table is very common and brackets should not be included in this situation


+1 for suppressing brackets too!