Citation plugin: change Markdown primary citation template to return "Author et al., YYYY"

Dear all,

I would like to change the appearance of Markdown citations to “Author et al., YYYY”.
The default is “[@{{citekey}}]”, which I do not find very appealing.

I have searched for quite a while, but could not find a straight forward way of how to achieve this. I would highly appreciate every hint or link to a related topic.

I’m searching for this too; just started using Obsidian.

Closest I’ve got so far is to put:

[[{{authorString}}, {{year}})]]

In the ‘Markdown primary citation template’ box in Citations settings. This returns the full author list and the year, which can be quite long.

You could also try [[{{title}}]], which at least looks better than the citekey


Here’s a forum thread that has the solution, but it involves some coding. I don’t currently understand enough to implement it myself.

Citations Plugin: How to access editor-field?

In the meantime, I’ve set the primary citation template as:


Not ideal, but impact, and links straight to my notes on that paper anyway

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Hi @FabianKut and @RezoLoot . I’m the author of the linked forum post which involves the coding. Are you still looking for a solution? I have an updated version of my citation-code which I could share with you, if you are still interested. Since my old post is more than 3 months old, unfortunately I cannot update it anymore. But I could open a new one.

If I understand you correctly, Pandoc Reference List is the plugin that you need.

It “renders” a pandoc-style citation [@citekey] as a human-friendly Authors et al., YYYY format. I mean, it only changes how [@citekey] looks, and it does not change the actual citation format (which is good for future proofness and portability, as this pandoc style is the de-facto standard).

I’m not sure why this feature is not mentioned in README.

P.S. The above plugin only works for a pandoc citation (i.e. [@citekey]), and it doesn’t work for a link [[...]]. Personally, I prefer internal links to citations because of the connection made by them. So I use MathLinks as a workaround to implement something similar to what Pandoc Reference List does.

I mean, I add mathLink: "Authors et al., 2023" in the YAML frontmatter (or properties) using the templating feature of the ZotLit plugin (a plugin similar to Citations, but I believe it is more powerful if you’re a Zotero user).

Thank you @lab! Yes, that would be great. Post it wherever you prefer.

I’m beginning my first few research sessions with Obsidian-CitationPlugin-Zotero now I’ve become more fluid with it, and it’s working excellently

I finally have a solution which generates clickable ‘Author, Year’ citations.

  1. Open citations plugin settings
  2. Check the contents of the ‘Literature note title template’ field. @{{citekey}} is the default. If you’ve typed anything different here, replace @{{citekey}} below with whatever you’ve typed
  3. In the ‘Markdown primary citation template’ field, type [[@{{citekey}}|{{[0].lastName}}, {{year}}]]

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