JabRef citations and bibliography in LibreOffice

This post is about citations and bibliography in LibreOffice Write. For citations in Word, see this post. For instructions for updating the bibliography database in LibreOffice, see this post.

JabRef (ver 3.8.2) & LibreOffice Write (version

This method uses the jabref plugin for OpenOffice/LibreOffice Write

  1. Must start java. LibreOffice → Preferences → Advanced. Provided you have a runtime environment installed (JRE), it will show in the popup window. Simply click on the button, then OK to save the changes. Restart LibreOffice before proceeding.
  2. Start LibreOffice and write your manuscript. Keep your document in the odt format native to LibreOffice.
  3. Return to Jabref, start the OpenOffice/LibreOffice connection: Tools → OpenOffice/LiberOffice connection. The tool will appear along the left-hand side.
  4. Next, connect JabRef to your LibreOffice app. There are two options: Automatic and Manual. I’ve yet to get the automatic option to work, so Manual it is. Click on the Manual icon (second from left). A window pops up, enter the path to your installation of the LibreOffice Mac. On my computer, that would be /Applications/LibreOffice.app. Click OK. View status of the connection at the bottom-left of the JabRef GUI.
  5. If all goes well, you’ll get a prompt to select the LibreOffice document. You can also select the document via the darkened folder icon (third from left). Status of the connection is reported bottom-left of the JabRef screen.
  6. Now, insert a citation by placing the cursor in text and then switching to JabRef.

Highlight the reference in JabRef, then click on the Cite button. Here’s what you should get

Report on ozone and toad innate immune function [Dohm et al. 2005]

  1. To generate the Bibliography, place cursor where you want the item to appear in the document, then switch back to JabRef.
  2. Highlight the reference, or references, then click on the refresh button (fourth from left). Here’s what a single reference will look like


Dohm, M. R.; Mautz, W. J.; Andrade, J. A.; Gellert, K. S.; Salas-Ferguson, L. J.; Nicolaisen, N. and Fujie, N. (2005). Effects of ozone exposure on non-specific phagocytic capacity of pulmonary macrophages from an amphibian, Bufo marinus, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24 : 205-210.

Using LibreOffice Bibliography database

  1. Assuming you have incorporated your own references into the database (see this post for instructions), then select Insert → Table of contents and index → Bibliography Entry. A popup window will appear from which you select your citation from your bibliography database.
  2. Click insert and then close to return to your manuscript. If all goes well, then you will see

Type something here [Adams2008]

  1. To generate the bibliography for the paper, select Insert → Table of contents and index → Table of Contents, Index, or Bibliography. A pop up menu appears.
  2. Select “Bibliography” from the type drop down menu. At least to start, accept the defaults and press the “OK” button. If all goes well, then you’ll see


Adams2008: Adams, Dean C., Phylogenetic meta-analysis, 2008

[note — need to fix my database!]

Papers3 + LibreOffice

  1. As described in a previous post, just press the ctrl key twice in succession to bring up a citation manager. Instructions as before. Here’s the output

The citations in text:

A paper about social networks and scientists {Hall:2014db}

Another paper, introducing Richard Hammond’s address to a Bell Research seminar group {Erren:2007hl}

  1. And the bibliography, as described in the previous post

Erren, T. C. (2007). Ten simple rules for doing your best research, according to Hamming. PLoS Computational Biology, 3(10), 1839. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030213

Hall, N. (2014). The Kardashian index: a measure of discrepant social media profile for scientists. Genome Biology, 15(7), 424. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13059-014-0424-0