How to automatically retrieve a Bibtex entry for a Zenodo record (and add it to a Sphinx documentation page)

Niche software trick warning!

Today I have been working on overhauling the documentation theme and content for a Python package I maintain, gala, which uses Sphinx to build the documentation. On the current main documentation page, I ask users who write papers with gala to cite the JOSS paper and the Zenodo record for the version that they use, in keeping with good software citation practices.

I want to make it as easy as possible for users to retrieve the relevent Bibtex entries for gala to include in papers, so I include the Bibtex directly on the main page of the gala documentation. However, in my current documentation setup, I have had to remember to manually copy-paste the Bibtex entry into the documentation page whenever I release a new version. I am bad at remembering things like this, so I recently noticed that the Zenodo bibtex entry is way out of date.

Today I figured out how to query the Zenodo web API to retrieve the Bibtex entry for the latest release of a software package with a record on Zenodo, and to include this into the Sphinx (documentation) build process. Here’s what I do now:

In my Sphinx documentation configuration file, typically in docs/, I query the Zenodo API and store the resulting Bibtex to a local (git ignored) .rst file, or default to linking to the Zenodo record if that fails for any reason:

import pathlib
import warnings
zenodo_path = pathlib.Path('ZENODO.rst')
if not zenodo_path.exists():
    import textwrap
        import requests
        headers = {'accept': 'application/x-bibtex'}
        response = requests.get('',
        response.encoding = 'utf-8'
        zenodo_record = (".. code-block:: bibtex\n\n" +
                        textwrap.indent(response.text, " "*4))
    except Exception as e:
        warnings.warn("Failed to retrieve Zenodo record for Gala: "
        zenodo_record = ("`Retrieve the Zenodo record here "

    with open(zenodo_path, 'w') as f:

Then, on my main documentation page docs/index.rst (or wherever you would like to include this file), I use the Sphinx .. include:: directive to include the contents of the cached file:

.. include:: ZENODO.rst

Anything we can do to make it easier to cite software helps!