Pandoc reference list preview doesn't work on one specific reference in one vault

I have one specific reference in Zotero that Pandoc Reference List doesn’t show a citation for. All the other references work normally.

And this particular reference does work if I add it in another vault. But in this vault it just tells me “No citation found for…” I have deleted and inserted it many times.

So, I think the plugins and programs are up to date, and everything should be working. The problem is only related to one vault, where everything else seems to work.

I use both zotero integration and citation plugins.
I have BetterBibTex and the bib file is there.
The literature note with the cite key is there. I have also tried deleting it and making a new one. The problematic reference links normally to the literature note, it just stays as a cite key and doesn’t change to a citation.

Any idea how I can make it work?


Usually, in this scenario, there something amiss about the bibtex file, like having two versions and linking the wrong one. Or the automatic export stopped working and the file is not up to date. Have you double-checked that you are using the right bibtex file? Have you opened the bibtex file in a text editor and searched for the citekey? What is the last modification date of the bibtex file?

Thank you! I am quite new to using zotero and obsidian. I thought I had a bib file, but now it seems I have an autogenerated json file instead.

I can find the reference in it. The reference is there just once. That part of the file looks like this. I assume it must be working, as when I reference to this from another vault everything is fine.

{“id”:“barnettDefinitionSocialEnvironment2001a”,“accessed”:{“date-parts”:[[“2024”,5,14]]},“author”:[{“family”:“Barnett”,“given”:“E”},{“family”:“Casper”,“given”:“M”}],“citation-key”:“barnettDefinitionSocialEnvironment2001a”,“container-title”:“American Journal of Public Health”,“container-title-short”:“Am J Public Health”,“ISSN”:“0090-0036”,“issue”:“3”,“issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2001”,3]]},“page”:“465”,“PMCID”:“PMC1446600”,“PMID”:“11249033”,“source”:“PubMed Central”,“title”:“A definition of "social environment".”,“type”:“article-journal”,“URL”:“",“volume”:"91”},


I realized I had “Pull bibliography from Zotero” in the Pandoc Reference List options selected, and as I switched it off and on again, that one reference started working. I don’t know what happened, but it is working now.

Thanks once more!

JSON is better, because Pandoc Reference List will convert bibtex to JSON internally anyway, so going directly with JSON is faster. Specifically, I think you need “Better CSL JSON”.

Are you sure that both vaults reference the same JSON bibliography file? Also, are you sure that Pandoc Reference List is actually using the JSON file? Make sure that “Pull from Zotero” is disabled in Pandoc Reference Lists settings.

Lastly, note the “a” at the end of the citekey. This means that Better Bibtex has resolved a conflict between this item and another item with the same citekey. Does the citekey in your note have this “a” at the end?

My guess is that you have “Pull from Zotero” enabled, and perhaps there is some issue with conflicting citekeys.

Thank you, I resolved this with your help (see above).

It seems to me everything is working now while the references are being pulled from zotero. What are the pros and cons of pulling them from zotero vs a json file?

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I find that pulling from Zotero is a bit slower, and you have to have Zotero open for it to work. That’s why I prefer the CSL JSON method. I export this anyway for other workflows, so for me, this works well.