A few questions regarding the UI, the entry editor and others

Hi there, I’ve recently started using jabref and I have a few questions which I did not find the answer for both in the documentation or by googling around. My questions are as follows:

  1. I am unable to edit the entry preview. I go to Options → Preferences → Entry preview, edit the corresponding entry preview, press save and opening the entry editor shows the preview as it was before. Is this a bug or am I doing something wrong? I’ve tried several modifications and it happened the same to me every time.
  2. How does one edit the order and content of the tabs shown in the entry editor? I know you can edit custom editor tabs - link - but how do you change the already existing ones? The entry for the entry editor pane - link - is outdated.
  3. Is there an option to customize how the authors are displayed in the entry table? From Options → Preferences → Entry table I have a column entitles Author/editor (Custom), so I’m guessing that it is possible.
  4. What does the memory sticky mode actually do? And even more important, how do I change its location? Having a configuration file in my home directory (which is not even hidden!) is always annoying (there’s ~/.config for that!).

I think that’s pretty much everything (which isn’t being extremely nit-picky).
I also have to say that, out of all the reference managers I’ve used, this seems to be by far the most complete, feature wise.
If anybody has an “advanced” guide on Jabref, as the basics are easy to find everywhere, as well with some tips on how to setup a workflow, which most guides do not cover (probably because it’s very subjective), would be great!

Thank you in advance.

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I also forgot to ask, so take this as question 5., since Jabref is able to check for the integrity of files, is it possible that it can also fix them for me?
I’m asking this since most of my problems come from the fact that there’s no curly brackets in capital letters in the title, which is tedious to solve manually.

hey undercover :slight_smile:

In relation to

1. What style have you tried to edit? The customized preview style? Could you give a short example of a code change that does not get saved, for us to have a way to reproduce?

2. It works, but only if you restart Jabref, after having saved your new preferences with the customized entry editor tabs.


You can change the fields that are shown in Required and Optional fields manually under options > customize entry types. Currently that order conforms to the bibtex / biblatex standard though.

3. You can change the display method under options > preferences > entry table:

4. I don’t know. I am currently on Windows.
5. Guide to Jabref: Getting started - JabRef

  • About a workflow, that indeed depends on what you want to do with Jabref.
    I use Jabref to write papers in combination with LaTeX software.
    The shortest workflow i currently have is:

    When i set up Jabref:

    • Create new library. Change library mode to biblatex via library > library properties > library mode
    • Create a default pattern for my citationkeys
    • Autolink my pdf files via regular expression search.
    • Choose an external program to push to under options > preferences > external programs: In my case, that would be Texmaker.

    After having set up Jabref:

    1. Import by ID (DOI)
      • (Of course, if the DOI is not available, import bibliographic data via other means)
    2. Check for missing bibliographic info in {} biblatex source tab and add if necessary (e.g. urldate)
    3. Automatically set file links (F7)
    4. Push entry to external application

Hi, thanks for the reply, here’s the follow up for each answer:

1. I’ve tried to edit the “Customized preview style”. I’ve tried several modifications because the syntax didn’t look to be that cryptic, but they all failed. For example, deleting the first line and pressing save will close the preferences window without actually saving it. Doing the same thing but switching to preview first will always reset to the previous state as well. Even deleting the entire thing leaving only a blank line will still reset to a previous state. Those are my steps to reproduce it, it doesn’t really matter what I do it always resets back to its previous state. I can record a short video if you wish, because I’m not quite sure what else to tell you.

2. So it seems that I can’t get rid of the “Required fields” and “Optional fields” then. My goal was to include all of that in the "General ", as to take up less space, but that’s not such a big deal.

3. Thanks, worked as expected, not quite sure how I missed that.

4. I suppose in Windows it doesn’t have such an intrusive path, this is fairly annoying somebody else must have brought this up so far!

5. I was looking for something beyond that, as I’m currently doing research which I will use to write my master thesis (in theoretical Physics, in case somebody in the field has some tips). I know that this is heavily dependent on the work you are doing, but having some idea on the groups that people define, their commenting scheme both in Jabref and in the PDFs, their visual overlay, usage of the Jabref special groups, etc. would be great, because I’m simply replacing my folder full of PDFs to a Jabref window full of PDFs, which isn’t a major improvement, but what I feel like the first step towards a very organized library.

For 1. you should check out:
- How to customize reference style? - #4 by Siedlerchr
- Entry preview setup - JabRef
- Custom export filters - JabRef
It seems to be a little complicated, but maybe it answers the question. I agree that it is confusing why edit does not work and if it were to be intentional, maybe it would be a good idea for this to change? Would you be so kind to make an issue at github: Issues · JabRef/jabref · GitHub

Could you provide a screenshot of 4. ?

Of 4.? The location of the jabref.xml in my home directory? I can give you the contents which are inside of it, is that what you mean?

I just don’t know what that is or means. Sorry :sweat_smile:

I have seen specifically the guide on the “Entry preview setup” you have just linked in the documentation, and it doesn’t work, at all. Maybe this is a bug.
Here’s a video of me doing the steps presented in the documentation, where I copy the contents of another entry preview style, so that you know it’s valid, and it still doesn’t work:

It’s the third option for me, counting from the top:

Honestly, I have no idea what it does, I just assumed it saved my open libraries as well as window settings (size and etc.), but the latter resets every time I reboot the program.

Found it. Still not sure what it does, but it seems it is only necessary if you want to run Jabref from a pendrive and use the portable version of Jabref:

Memory stick mode, JabRef saves the preferences to an XML file in the root folder next to the installation. It is indeed intended for running JabRef from an USB stick or external hard disk.
But in practice it still has some limits because it still writes the Prefs to the preferences folder/registry (on Windows) before writing them to xml.


you can only modify the Custom Preview Style which uses JabRef’s own formatting system. This is different from the xml based CSL ones. They are incompatible.
The other citation styles are those from CSL and cannot be modified in JabRef.

So then if I disable that check marks, nothing will happen because all of the settings are saved somewhere in my system, right?

Do you think that this is a bug? It surely does look like one, since I can’t seem to change the preview no matter what. I have no problem opening up a issue down at Github, I would just like to be confident that I’m not doing anything wrong.

Still regarding the question 5., I keep finding no information regarding the usage of the check integrity method to solve said problems. I imagine that having lack of capitalization, and hence the need to surround them in curly brackets, has been something which has happened to many people before, and fixing it manually when you might have loads of entries, seems unfeasible, and something which Jabref could easily handle.

I would just like to confirm that I have successfully removed the file without any problems whatsoever, all my settings seem to be in place after a reboot, so everything is being saved somewhere else.

Apparently it is not a bug. Christoph answered this:

If anything, it would be a feature request.

With regard to capitalisation, you can modify your dataset also with cleanup actions (Quality > cleanup entries).

I would create new threads (not just one, but a few. One for each topic) for this. This one here has become quite long and the topics you mention are all very specific and a microcosmos in itself.

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Yeah, I still have something to say about these subjects, and I was planning on doing a summary at the end with the solutions for each of my questions, but this makes it harder to find and understand for somebody who is external to the conversation.
Here’s what I’ll do (or the answer) for each question:

1.: I will open up a new thread to ensure that this is in fact a bug, before reporting it to Github - link.

2.: You can’t change the order of the tabs on the Editor Tabs, only (some of) its content.

3.: The option to change the authors name order and abbreviations in the entry table, can be changed at options > preferences > entry table.

4.: Memory sticky mode is intended for portable JabRef installations and for somebody who is not running it off of an USB stick, which is probably almost everybody, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever.

5.: I just found out that this question isn’t new here, there’s a thread from 2016 with the exact same question I had - link. This thread was marked as solved as there was a pull request which should provide that functionality, however, I’m not quite sure what it offers. Should I bump this thread or should I open a new one?
To make this clear, my goal is to turn something like “Cosmology in $F(Q)$ Gravity constrained using Standard Sirens” to be turned into “{C}osmology in ${F}({Q})$ {G}ravity constrained using {S}tandard {S}irens”, i. e. respect the capitalization of the original title, in and outside of math mode.