Is There a Good Reason to make Citekeys Links?

I’ve been lurking around here for about a month and decided to just start making notes. I’m trying to follow Zettelkasten principles, but not rigidly. My question is, is there a good reason to make cite keys links?

In my setup, I use Zotero to generate the cite link, but at this point, I’m just adding it manually. I like the idea of being able to search all the notes from a single source. I like the idea of not having to dump all the bibliographic data in on each note, especially when I’m doing literature reviews.

I’ve toyed with the idea of making the cite link page a reference entry with a bibliographic entry generated from Zotero.

Another way I’ve seen this done is to create a page for each author. This is very helpful for podcasts/blogs etc. E.g. [[Deb Haarsma]]

How are you using cite links within your Zettelkasten?

I use the MarkDownload Firefox plugin to save articles for a “References” folder. I then link to those, with relevant bullets or text underneath, in notes that I’m working on bottom up. As I gradually absorb the bullets into an fully composed note (at the top) keep the link in a reference list at the bottom. A single reference can be linked multiple times throughout.

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I keep my library in Zotero and export it using BetterBibtex.
I wrote a small python script, which splits this file into files, like
I copy 800 resulting files into the ‘references’ folder inside the vault and can easily access them.
This method clearly has downsides – numerous files on filesystem and unusable Graph view.

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Graph view not usable for 800 files?
Is that a correct understanding of what I read here?

As an update, I’ve decided there is merit to linking to authors. My current workflow is as follows.

  1. Using a Zotero-generated cite key (AuthorYear), I add this link to each literature note. E.g. [[Haarsma2017]].
  2. The Haarsma2017 note is a pure reference note that contains the bibliographic information. But, by using the backlinks sidebar, I can easily see all literature notes for this particular work.
  3. I also add an author link e.g. [[DebHaarsma]]. This creates an author page which functions sorta like an index to all the notes I have on one author.

I use a Python script for updating the backlinks on my notes — the backlinks are added to a list at the end of the note so I am not dependent on particular software features like Obsidian to record this information. It also looks for citekeys (formatted as [@citekey]) and adds the bibligraphy data from the .bib file to the bottom of the note.

That sounds exactly what I am looking for - as long as obsidian doesn’t have any bibtex-integration! Would you share your script? That would be really cool! :slight_smile:


This is the relevant parts from the script (I think the full backlinks script is probably too specific to my workflow to be much use). Put this in the same directory as your vault and it should work, assuming your notes are stored without subdirectories. If not you’ll have to do some adapting.

Having a references header (whatever bib_indicator is set to) in your note is optional but it must be the last header — everything after this will be erased to make way for the new bibliography. This header will be added to the end if citations are found anyway.

At the moment it also creates a backup copy of your vault when it is run; this is in case you for some reason have a file that starts with bib_indicator, as you will lose the whole file. If that’s not a worry, just remove this part.

It requires a library called pybtex for parsing the .bib file.

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Thanks a lot, that looks really great! I’ll have a look at it later…