What's new in Magic Citations in Papers 2.1?

A complete and detailed list of all the changes and bug fixes in Papers 2.1 can be found in the release notes. This document gives an overview of the new features specific to Magic Citations, with some more information and more context than the release notes.

Copy As Magic Citation

In Papers 2.0, we introduced 'Magic Citations', an incredibly easy user interface to insert citations and format a manuscript, that does not requires you to leave the keyboard, or leave your text editor, and does not require you to install anything, and yet supports a wide variety of applications. Magic Citations is always ready when you need it: press the control key twice, and you're ready to query your Papers library. Press enter a couple of times, the reference is inserted. You can focus on your manuscript, on the content and the ideas.

We found that the above workflow covers a lot of what our users do. But there are still cases where you have the publications to cite right there in Papers, maybe even already organized in a collection. In such cases, the Magic Citations floating window can actually be superfluous and add friction. In Papers 2.1, we add an alternative workflow in the main Papers app itself, and introduce 'Magic Citation'. Here is how it works:

  • Switch to Papers
  • Select a paper, or multiple papers
  • Select the menu item Edit > Copy As... > Magic Citation (alt-cmd-M)
  • Switch back to your text editor
  • Paste in your manuscript
  • etc...

You can also change the settings in your preferences to 'Drag Papers as Magic Citation' (available in the 'Papers' pane), in which case you can also drag papers directly into your text editor, and get a Magic Citation inserted. With that setting, the 'Copy' menu item can also be used (cmd-C).

The 'Copy As... Magic Citation' coexists peacefully with the equivalent menu item 'Copy As... BibTeX command' (alt-cmd-C). But BibTeX users will also be happy to learn that the latter is now consistent with the citkey format selected in the Manuscripts preferences. Depending on that setting, the menu item will copy a \cite command, a \citep command, or even a ConTeXt, Pandoc or MMD citation. The same options are then also available in the 'Drag Papers as' setting in the preferences.

Citation Modifiers: Prefix, Suffix, Author Suppression, Year Suppression

The syntax and the use of citation modifiers are described in more details in a separate document. Here is a quick overview of how those modifiers can be added to the 'raw' citekey, and how it will look after formatting:

  • Prefix, Suffix and Page Number

    before formatting

    ... as shown before {see Smith:1997tu for stunning proof p.89}, birds can fly ...

    after formatting

    ... as shown before (see Smith, 1997, page 89 for stunning proof), birds can fly ...

  • Author and Year Suppression

    before formatting

    ... as shown by Smith {*Smith:1997tu} & in 1999 {Doe:1999kl*}, ...

    after formatting

    ... as shown by Smith (1997) & in 1999 (Doe), birds can fly ...

Unformat Manuscript in MS Word

Papers 2.1 introduces the new action 'Unformat Manuscript' when you are using Microsoft Word to edit your manuscript. This action can be used after formatting a manuscript to go back to the 'raw' citekeys that are normally inserted by the 'Insert Citation' action.

For instance, ayou may have the citation appearing in your formatted manuscript as follows:


This may not be very useful if you need to do some more editing , and want to know what the citation numbers correspond to. The 'Unformat Manuscript' action will revert the cites to the 'Magic Citation' format:

"...{Smith:1997tu}...{Doe:1999kl, Doe:2010gt}, Dupont:2011vi}...{Smith:1992uv}...etc..."

Unformatting the manuscript can be useful for various reasons:

  • better see what you are citing, as the first author and year are clearly displayed
  • copy-paste or export the text to another application, like Pages or TextEdit, where Papers will also be able to recognize the citekeys
  • allow editing or addition of citation modifiers, like the prefix or page numbers
  • it will allow editing of the citekey themselves, like adding a citekey, removing one, copying a citekey, etc...
  • it will also allow collaborators and co-authors to edit the citekeys and modifiers, even if they don't use Papers

Note: if you had formatted the manuscript prior to Papers 2.1, you may first need to choose the 'Format Manuscript' action again, and thus reformat the manuscript, before 'Unformat Manuscript' is available.

Add Journal Style

You may or may not know it, but Papers relies on the fantastic CSL style repository to support formatting of your manuscript in hundreds of different styles (more than 1700 in Papers 2.1.8). Despite this large choice, your favorite journal may not be listed there. One option is to create your own CSL style, as described in another post on our support pages.

However, in many cases, there is already a style in Papers that conforms to the requirements of the journal. For instance, let's say you are writing a paper to be published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. After reading the instruction to authors, you find that you can use the APA style. It's easy to use this style, but you'll have to remember from now on that for JIR, you'll need to use APA. It would be easier if the name of the style was simply the name of the journal. You already have enough on your mind with that manuscript and your irreproducible results, and you don't need one more thing that can go wrong.

In Papers 2.1, we added a very simple interface to copy an existing style, and give it its own name. It is not a full-blown style editor, but it can cover a lot of simple cases and make your life easier:

  • Go into the Papers Preferences...Manuscripts
  • Click on the popup menu 'Favorite Styles' and select 'More Styles...'
  • This will open the Style Browser
  • Select the style you would like to duplicate
  • Click the 'Duplicate Selected Style' button
  • Type the name you want to give to the new style
  • Click 'Add'

Citekey Formats

With Papers 2.1, new citekey formats become available and join the previous formats in the popup menu in the Manuscripts preferences.

  • Available since Papers 2.0:

    • Papers Magic Citation

      output: ...{Smith:1997tu}...

    • BibTeX \cite and \citep Command

      output: ...\cite{Smith:1997tu}...\citep{Smith:1997tu}...

  • New with Papers 2.1:

    • ConTeXt \cite command

      output: ...\cite[Smith:1997tu]...

    • Pandoc citation

      output: ...[@Smith:1997tu]...

    • MMD citation – 3 different options

      output: ...[Smith:1997tu]...[Smith:1997tu][]...[][Smith:1997tu]...