When writing scientific papers within org-mode, the usual way to go is to specify citations, e.g., with the help of org-ref and then to export the whole thing to LaTeX/PDF, which does also resolve the citations based on a BibTeX database.

While this works out very well in everyday work, I would be curious to learn whether it is also possible to stay within org-mode proper, hence to have all the references automatically resolved and printed at the end of the org-mode file.

This would have two nice consequences that I miss so far:

  1. The export to HTML would also include resolved references.
  2. Similarly, the export with ox-reveal (for outputting slides) would include them too.


It turned out that the desired consequences are actually not so difficult to achieve. Using org-ref, don't forget (as I did) to make use of bibliography:your-bib-file.bib and bibliographystyle:your-bst-file.bst.

Yet the underlying question about self-contained org-mode files still remains.

  • Export to HTML should automatically resolve all the citations. Feb 16, 2017 at 22:51
  • @JohnKitchin That's true, indeed. I had forgotten to put bibliography: and bibliographystyle: in my org-mode file, using #+bibliography instead. However, exporting to HTML does not resolve keys so far. For instance, cite:Chomsky:13 is exported as Chomsky:13.
    – Timm
    Feb 17, 2017 at 10:58
  • 2
    That is what it is supposed to do. I assume you want something like numbers. See kitchingroup.cheme.cmu.edu/blog/2015/12/03/… for one way to get something like that. Feb 17, 2017 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


You could try exporting via ox-pandoc (requires pandoc, which you could also use directly). This will expand your citations, allows you to choose the citation style, and can export to many formats, including revealjs. An additional benefit is support for an alternative citation syntax [prefix @citekey postfix] which might be more suitable for people in the humanities. The downside is that some advanced org-mode features may not be supported.

  • This only answers the peripheral issue of exporting the file. But thanks for pointing to ox-pandocwhich I wasn't aware of.
    – Timm
    Feb 17, 2017 at 11:24

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