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License: GPL v3 Maintenance GitHub Release MELPA


ORB logo


Org Roam BibTeX (ORB) is an Org Roam extension that integrates Org Roam with bibliography/citation management software: Org Ref, Helm and Ivy BibTeX and Citar.

It allows users to manage their bibliographical notes using Org Roam and access the notes in org-roam-directory via helm-bibtex, ivy-bibtex, citar-open-notes or by activation Org-ref cite: links and Org-cite citations.

Quick Demonstration 🎬

Demo (gif)

See also a somewhat outdated video demonstration of Org Roam v0.2.1


Here is a selection of articles that you may find interesting.

Introduction to Org-roam


Important news

Org Roam BibTeX has been upgraded to v0.6, which is compatible with Org-roam v2. Please read carefully this README file and the manual and adjust your configuration files accordingly. In particular, pay attention that the variable orb-templates has been deprecated in favour of org-roam-capture-templates, which in Org-roam v2 has a different list structure. Consult the manual for more details

Org Roam BibTeX v0.5.2 is the last version of ORB that works with Org-roam v1. It can be found on the branch orb-v0.5.

A word of warning 🚧

org-roam-bibtex is in Alpha.

This means that a lot of things may change in the future (e.g. renaming variables, rewriting functions). As a result, the package will be unstable for a while. This will change when we release v1.0, but for now, you will have to be on the lookout for a few things:

  1. If you encounter a problem with the package, start by making sure that you have the latest version. (cf. Installation)
  2. If there is a problem with your configuration, most notably variables which do not exist anymore or functions which are not called with the right number of arguments, you will need to check this page to see what has changed.
  3. If neither 1. nor 2. resolved your problem, read the following section on how to get help.

Getting help

Please read carefully this section before installing Org Roam BibTeX. We are glad to help you in case something does not work as expected. However, we kindly ask you to follow these simple rules when asking for help:

  1. Read carefully this README file.
  2. Read it once again, please. Consult the extended manual
  3. Check our community resources and describe your problem there.
  4. Open an issue on the bug tracker.
  5. Take your time to describe your problem and we'll take ours to help you solve it.
  6. Describe your problem clearly, in a procedural way: "I run this command, then I run that command, and finally this one. I expect this to happen but instead happens that. Here is my configuration."
  7. Thank you!

Keep in mind that ORB is under active development and the configuration snippets that you might have found somewhere in the Internet may be outdated and be the actual cause your errors. It is therefore highly recommended to use this README file, the manual and the Emacs built-in docstrings as primary documentation sources.


Hard dependencies

Org Roam BibTeX depends on Org Roam and BibTeX Completion. Users cloning ORB directly from GitHub also need to install the above packages. When installing ORB with a package manager (MELPA) or from within a configuration framework (Doom, Spacemacs), no additional steps are required.

Soft dependencies

Some parts of Org Roam BibTeX will not work without:

  • Org Ref — namely when Org-ref v2 or v3 citation citation links are used as ROAM_REFS. Org-roam and ORB now support the built-in Org-cite citation keys (Org mode version 9.5+), so Org-ref is not a strict requirement anymore.

  • Helm/Ivy-bibtex — these packages are required by Org-ref and provide native interfaces for Bibtex-completion, although the latter can be installed separately without them.

  • Citar — this package provides an extended support for Org-cite citations. You will need to install the companion package Citar-org-roam, and configure it as described here.

  • AnyStyle CLI — ORB PDF Scrapper requires this external tool, see Orb Anystyle for more details.

  • ORB offers basic completion functions based on Emacs native completion interfaces, but user experience can be enhanced with Helm, Ivy and Hydra packages.

  • Users of Projectile and Persp-mode will be pleased to learn that ORB can automatically switch perspective to the Org Roam project when creating a note.

With Emacs built-in package manager (package.el)

The package is on MELPA.

  1. Install org-roam-bibtex:

    a) using package.el:

    M-x package-install RET org-roam-bibtex RET

    b) Alternatively, install it with M-x package-list-packages.

  2. Load and configure the package in your init-file:

    a) with use-package:

    (use-package org-roam-bibtex
      :after org-roam
      (require 'org-ref)) ; optional: if using Org-ref v2 or v3 citation links

    b) Alternatively, require the package if you don't use use-package:

    (require 'org-ref) ; optional: if using Org-ref v2 or v3 citation links
    (require 'org-roam-bibtex)

Via cloning

You can also clone the repository somewhere in your load-path. If you would like to assist with development, this is the way to go.

To do that:

  1. Create a directory where you’d like to clone the repository, e.g. mkdir ~/projects.

  2. cd ~/projects

  3. git clone

  4. Load and configure the package:

    a) with use-package:

    (use-package org-roam-bibtex
      :after org-roam
      :load-path "~/projects/org-roam-bibtex/" ; Modify with your own path where you cloned the repository
      (require 'org-ref)) ; optional: if using Org-ref v2 or v3 citation links

    b) Alternatively, if you don't use use-package:

    (require 'org-ref) ; optional: if using Org-ref v2 or v3 citation links
    (add-to-list 'load-path "~/projects/org-roam-bibtex/") ; Modify with your own path where you cloned the repository
    (require 'org-roam-bibtex)


If you have a private org-roam layer, modify it as follows:

(defconst org-roam-packages
  '(org-roam org-roam-bibtex))

 ;; add this after `org-roam/init-org-roam`:

(defun org-roam/init-org-roam-bibtex ()
  (use-package org-roam-bibtex
    :after org-roam
    (require 'org-ref)) ; optional: if using Org-ref v2 or v3 citation links

If you don't have a private org-roam layer, configure it first, see examples here and here.

Recent versions of Spacemacs ship with a built-in org-roam support, so you won't need a private org-roam layer. You still need a private layer for org-roam-bibtex. Consult Spacemacs documentation on how to create one, or use the approach described in the above mentioned resources.

Doom Emacs

  1. Put this in $DOOMDIR/packages.el:
(package! org-roam-bibtex
  :recipe (:host github :repo "org-roam/org-roam-bibtex"))

;; When using org-roam via the `+roam` flag
(unpin! org-roam)

;; When using bibtex-completion via the `biblio` module
(unpin! bibtex-completion helm-bibtex ivy-bibtex)
  1. Put this in $DOOMDIR/config.el:
(use-package! org-roam-bibtex
  :after org-roam
  (require 'org-ref)) ; optional: if using Org-ref v2 or v3 citation links
  1. Run bin/doom sync -u and restart Emacs.



Call interactively org-roam-bibtex-mode or arrange your init file to perform this automatically.

You can now access your bibliographical notes in org-roam-directory with helm-bibtex/ivy-bibtex or by opening org-ref links. ORB modifies the behaviour of the above packages to make them use orb-edit-note instead of their default note-management commands. To get their default behaviour back, disable org-roam-bibtex-mode.


Type M-x orb-note-actions to easily access additional commands useful in note's context. These commands are run with the note's BibTeX key as an argument. The key is taken from the :ROAM_REFS: file or heading property.


Select a bibliography entry and insert a link to a note associated with it. If the note does not exist yet, create it. Similar to org-roam-node-insert, if a region is selected, it becomes the link description.

org-roam-buffer sections

Three bibliography related org-roam-buffer sections are available. They may be added to the org-roam-mode-sections variable. These are:

  • orb-section-reference displays a formatted reference for the current entry.
  • orb-section-abstract displays the abstract (if available) of the current entry.
  • orb-section-file displays a link to open the attached file, if such file exists.


See the Org Roam BibTeX Manual for configuration options and advanced usage.


For help, support, or if you just want to hang out with us, you can find us here:


Changelog is being maintained here.


Copyright © 2020-2022 Mykhailo Shevchuk

Copyright © 2020 Leo Vivier

And contributros.

Distributed under the GNU General Public License , see LICENSE.