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?


4 Answers 4


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.

  • 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. Aug 3, 2010 at 10:27
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    @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.) Aug 3, 2010 at 17:49
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    As I just learned (tex.stackexchange.com/questions/815/…) you can get the bibliography entry with the bibentry package.
    – Caramdir
    Aug 3, 2010 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. Aug 4, 2010 at 12:08
  • See recent related (might be duplicate) posts. tex.stackexchange.com/questions/84681/…, tex.stackexchange.com/questions/82336/…
    – hpesoj626
    Dec 23, 2012 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. Aug 3, 2010 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)


There is cooltooltips package that does what you need..


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