Website links in references


Stefan, I’m talking about the formatted references in the footer, not the citations.

From Google docs, I publish my content to a webpage or to a PDF. In either case it would make the most sense to have the references hyperlink to the actual source (e.g., pubmed page). It just doesn’t make sense from a reader’s point of view to be linked out to a paperpile app when trying to cross check references.


For the references in the bibliography, you can simply add the DOI (choose “always include DOI”). The DOI is correctly linked.

At the moment the main use case is that users write a manuscript to submit to a journal. Here it is important that the bibliography is correctly formatted for printing.

Clearly, that is not optimal for publishing on the web were links are more important. We are aware of that limitation and I understand you suggestions now. Thanks.


Stefan, Im not suggesting a change in formatting but just adding web hyperlinks to the style of choice.

I tried the DOI checkbox but no web links appeared. Maybe only certain formatting styles support them?


That’s interesting. Most styles actually show the DOI if you have a doi in your data. If it’s a recent paper from PubMed it should have a DOI. I know that because we added this option to actually remove the DOIs explicitly because most journals don’t want them in the bibliography unless it is an electronic paper only.


I agree with Eric.

At the moment in-text citations automatically link to a Paperpile app page for that document.
Full citations in the reference list also link to that same Paperpile page, however some references will include a DOI or URL that is linked directly to the relevant DOI or URL.

I can see the use of having a single Paperpile page that lists all references within a document, but it isn’t something I want in my document as it makes it harder for readers to get directly to the referenced paper.

As Eric suggested I think in-text citations should link to an anchor in the document for the full reference in the reference list (if this is even possible in GDocs), a la Wikipedia. Then the full references in the reference list shouldn’t link anywhere unless a URL or DOI is included, in those cases link to the URL or DOI.
There could be an option to provide a link at the top or bottom of the reference list taking the user to the Paperpile app page for that document.

I’m not interested myself in the SEO side of things, but can see what Eric is saying. If people are publishing these documents on their websites search engines will rate their documents higher if they are found to include links to other respected webpages.

Actually, as i write this i think i understand what Stefan is saying. The Paperpile app needs an ‘ID’ for each reference in the document to know which ones have been included, so they can generate the full Reference list. This explains the links for the in-text citations, but would it be possible to add a bookmark for each one and use that as a unique identifier (are bookmarks available to the API?). Then the full references in the reference list just wouldn’t need the links in them as they are reformatted each time so shouldn’t need an ID.
Maybe that is possible?

Other that this small issue I find Paperpile to be a brilliant app that does a lot more than other referencing software, thanks for making it.


I understand the problem and that you are not happy by the default behavior of Paperpile. The key concept is that at the moment the links are optimized for the author not the reader. For the author the links have many advantages:

  • As they are a globally unique ID they can be pasted within a document and also between documents.
  • You can even export to Word and the re-import to Google Docs. It will just work. No other reference management system will be able to do that.
  • It is essential to enable citations when a document is edited by multiple authors.
  • It facilitate collaboration beyond citing because a co-author can view, edit and import a reference to his or her library.

Once you publish your final document on the web the links should be optimized for the reader. This can be improved and we hope to add this at some point.


Is this feature something that may be weeks or months away?


The priority is on deleting all links to have a clean document. Depending how easy that is we might add an option to include web links when we implement that. But I really can’t say. Google Docs is not something that is easy to work with even after almost 2 years of doing Paperpile.


Hey Stefan, any updates on this the reference links? Is there going to be an ability to at least remove the links in Google docs soon?


We are still beta-testing the new add-on which is a pre-requisite for these features. Please follow the discussions there. At the moment I can’t give a new estimate.


We will have a new version of the add-on hopefully next weekend. It’s rather big Paperpile update behind the scenes and also has new user facing features. If time permits I’ll try to get in the URL removal feature but I can’t promise it.


Now I’m curious. If the links are removed would they still be recognized by paperpile?


No, if there are no links there is nothing Paperpile could recognize. You can’t go back from there. That’s meant as an “export” step to create a clean copy.

Stripping links from PDFs - student work considerations

@Eric_Potratz: In the new update of the Google Docs add-on we’ve added an option under “Export” to create a clean copy without any citation links. The bibliography will still contain links in DOIs and URLs thoug.


It would also be great if we could get an HTML export with the citation tag around the title of the references, like this:

<cite>title of article</cite>

In addition to the hyperlink to the source (e.g., pubmed).

Just stuff to make references more SEO friendly for web publishing.


You can see the citation tag used in the reference section of my article here:

Its a semantic HTML mark that tells search engines that the references are actual citations.


We don’t have control how Google Docs exports the HTML.

Also is there any evidence that a <cite> tag would affect SEO?


Hey Stefan, I have no specific references for the impact on search ranking, just assuming that a webpage with proper semantics will generally perform better.

When I copy n paste from Google docs to Wordpress the <b> and <i> tags are retained so I thought <cite> tags might be able to be retained too. Just a thought.


I think I ran into the same problem and I solved it like this:

  1. Select all in Google Doc → copy
  2. Paste into the HTML editor on my blog (CKEditor)
  3. Select all in the editor → remove all formatting
  4. View source in the editor → select all and copy
  5. Paste into Vim
  6. Fix up links using Regex :%s/<a href=“http.\{-}:\/\/\{-}“>\(.\{-}\)<\/a>/\1/g

That’s it!


Mate several people face the issue while copying content from google docs to WordPress that extra element tags were included like: < span > < p > < b >, < i >, and etc. For making it easy you can simply copy the content from google docs to WordPress sample page and save it. Then copy the save version of the article on your page. This will remove all the extra elements tags, css properties and etc. Now you can also google chrome extension to sink all google docs to WordPress and push all the content directly without any hassle.