Basti's Scratchpad on the Internet
23 Sep 2014

Org Mode Citation Links

I am writing my master's thesis in Org Mode, and export to LaTeX for publishing. For the most part, this works incredibly well. Using Org Mode instead of plain LaTeX means no more fiddly \backslash{curly brace} all over the place. No more scattering code fragments and markup across hundreds of files. And on top of that, deep integration with my research notes and task tracking system.

But not everything is perfect. For one thing, citations do not work well. Sure, you can always write \cite{cohen93}, but then you are writing LaTeX again. Also, all the other references and footnotes are clickable, highlighted Org Mode links, but \cite{cohen93} is just inline LaTeX.

But luckily, this is Emacs, and Emacs is programmable. And better yet, Org Mode has just the tool for the job:

(org-add-link-type "cite"
     (defun follow-cite (name)
       "Open bibliography and jump to appropriate entry.
        The document must contain \bibliography{filename} somewhere
        for this to work"
       (find-file-other-window
        (save-excursion
          (beginning-of-buffer)
          (save-match-data
            (re-search-forward "\\\\bibliography{\\([^}]+\\)}")
            (concat (match-string 1) ".bib"))))
       (beginning-of-buffer)
       (search-forward name))
     (defun export-cite (path desc format)
       "Export [[cite:cohen93]] as \cite{cohen93} in LaTeX."
       (if (eq format 'latex)
           (if (or (not desc) (equal 0 (search "cite:" desc)))
               (format "\\cite{%s}" path)
             (format "\\cite[%s]{%s}" desc path)))))

This registers a new link type in Org Mode: [[cite:cohen93]], which will jump to the appropriate bibliography entry when clicked, and get exported as \cite{cohen93} in LaTeX. Awesome!

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