Jabref modifies CitationEntryKey upon copying references between different bib files

This appears a somewhat new behavior (perhaps introduced by new default settings in recent versions):

When I copy one bib entry from one bib file to another (standard CTRL+C in source bib file and CTRL+V in the destination bib file, the bib copied entry appears with a modified CitationEntryKey. Specifically, my citation entry keys are in general, all in the format:


The copied entry instead has a citation entry key in the format:

How can I avoid this behaviour and exactly copy of my bib entries “as they are” into the destination bib file?




I see 2 parameters in the preference that could cause this behavior:

  • in the tab Citation key patterns, uncheck “Overwrite existing keys”
  • in the tab “Import and Export”, uncheck “Generate a new key for imported entries”

Please, could you test them?


Up till now I assumed in most cases it should be desirable to have citationkeys that differ from each other.

Could you please explain your workflow that requires citationkeys to remain “as is”?

I create document-specific BIB files from a master BIB file where I store all my bib entries, everytime I create a new project. Likewise, the project-specific BIB files also include new bib entries, that at the end of the project I want to transfer to the master BIB file.

the second setting solved the issue.