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I once saw a maths journal which offered PDFs of published papers, where the bibliographic references were formatted as PDF annotations: if you moused over a reference in the text, the bibliography entry would appear in a pop-up window, without having to jump to the end of the file and inevitably have to spend ages re-finding where you were in the text.

Does anyone know of a way of producing this effect automatically using BibTeX?

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For what it's worth, the journal is Compositio Mathematica -- those with an institutional subscription can download PDFs at journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=COM. – David Loeffler Aug 3 '10 at 8:39
Commenting here for visibility: some good answers to this question have been given as answers to the newer question, Showing the bibliographic entry in a popup… – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine May 24 at 13:29
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Pop-up annotations can be made using the pdfcomment package, but I haven't seen an automatic way yet. But you could redefine a cite macro to use, for instance, \pdfmarkupcomment for the output.

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Thanks for the suggestion; I've seen pdfcomment before, but I'm nowhere near competent enough with hacking LaTeX internals to know how to redefine \cite properly. – David Loeffler Aug 3 '10 at 10:27
@David Loeffler: I don't know how to view pdf pop-ups so I can't test the syntax, but if you can figure out from the pdfcomment documentation what exactly you want to do then redefining the \cite command is easy: \let\oldcite\cite \renewcommand{\cite}[1]{\pdfcomment{whatever the right syntax is}\oldcite{#1}}. Use # inside the \pdfcomment bit to get the label. (Note: this doesn't do quite everything because you'd need to load the bibliography entry in to that argument. That's a little more complicated.) – Loop Space Aug 3 '10 at 17:49
As I just learned (tex.stackexchange.com/questions/815/…) you can get the bibliography entry with the bibentry package. – Caramdir Aug 3 '10 at 18:32
Thanks for the excellent suggestion of using pdfcomment and bibentry; but I'm struggling to get this to work. Just redefining \cite to \pdfcomment{\bibentry{#1}}\oldcite{#1} produces errors by the thousand and corrupted output, because the output of bibentry contains LaTeX commands that aren't valid in a PDF comment. – David Loeffler Aug 4 '10 at 12:08
See recent related (might be duplicate) posts. tex.stackexchange.com/questions/84681/…, tex.stackexchange.com/questions/82336/… – hpesoj626 Dec 23 '12 at 14:52

Non-answers that help even if you don't have the source code available:

  • Some PDF viewers display hyperlink popups automatically; at least Skim.app does that. You don't need to do anything in Latex; just use hyperref as usual and open the document in Skim.

  • Most modern PDF viewers have a "back" button, just like a web browser. For example, if you click a hyperlink in Preview.app (built-in PDF viewer in Mac OS X), you can go back to where you were by pressing cmd-[.

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+1 for the non-answer. I was wondering how I got this effect without using anything special, and it was just Skim doing the right thing. – ShreevatsaR Aug 3 '10 at 17:42

You can use fancy preview:

Showing the bibliographic entry in a popup when you hover over the citation key

And refer to the following webiste for the details and requirements


(I would've put this in a comment but I don't have enough reputation)

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There is cooltooltips package that does what you need..

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Welcome to TeX.SX! You can have a look at our starter guide to familiarize yourself further with our format. – texenthusiast Jul 11 '13 at 11:13
Is it possible to demo with a simple example, in this way it might add value to the post. – texenthusiast Jul 11 '13 at 11:15
Even cooler, because the pop-ups are TeX formatted: "Interactive PDF, Latex and Article of the Future" with opentype/truetype fonts and unicode – AlexG Jul 11 '13 at 11:25

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