bibliography software for humanities

I’m looking for bibliography software that will:

  • Support Chicago reference styles (Sente says it does, but it’s not an option?)
  • Search major libraries and retrieve book information
  • Search JSTOR and download and manage PDFs (again, Sente says it can do this, but how?)

Problem I had with bookends was no ability to save PDFs without manual downloading and linking, plus it messes up Chicago style references just about every time.

I can’t get Sente to connect to JSTOR or the library of congress, and I can’t figure out how to enable Chicago style.

Can someone recommend the appropriate software? I need to figure this out before my trials expire, and the failure of Bookends and Sente to work as promised without a lot of tweaking is disappointing.

Thank you!

EndNote X1 handles JSTOR exports. I just tried it:
You locate the citation in JSTOR.
Click on the “Export this Citation” button.
A file called “citations.enw” appears in your Downloads folder.
In EndNote, import that file.
An entry appears in the Imported References section of your Groups list (left pane).
I use the Chicago 15th A.ens output style.
The EndNote entry contains all bib data plus a stable link back to the source in JSTOR.
(You need a subscription to JSTOR or licensed access to it via a local or remote-access URL.)
EndNote is often maligned, but the current Mac version works fine.

I was hoping for software that would search JSTOR and then be able to download the PDF, store it, and allow me to read it, highlight, take notes. Bookends will search JSTOR but it can’t download the PDF.

Or something that would integrate with devonthink.

Papers sounds great, but it doesn’t do references and bibliographies (which Bookends does), and Bookends doesn’t do the things Papers does.

From the Sente website, it sounded like it would be the best of both worlds, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to do any of those things.

And it sounds like Endnote doesn’t search JSTOR and store and annotate PDFs.

Actually, as of its last release a few days ago, Bookends does do everything you’re asking for. It can get JSTOR articles and attach them to the citation info, it can search libraries, etc.

That being said, I use Papers to search online, download, and organize my PDF’s; I use Bookends to manage all my citations (pulling them in from the exporter in Papers), and I use Skim for annotating when necessary (though I generally dislike reading and annotating digitally on the screen).

Yes, I’ve had to buy two pieces of software, but each one does what it does best, and they integrate just fine.

Best of luck.

Bookends seems to fit the bill. In addition, Bookends now scans Pages files, which means that if you write your draft with Scrivener, and export it as RTFD, you can also get your footnotes (as endnotes), in addition to your bibliography.

I’ve gone over to Sente for its new “targeted browsing” capability (picks up references, PDFs etc from web pages) and for the relatively easy downloading of JSTOR stuff. (I say “relatively” because off-site it’s a pain, not because of Sente but because I have to log on via the weird Cambridge “Raven” site.)

The only thing it doesn’t do (which nothing really does properly since Papyrus bit the dust) is conditional formatting. That’s useful, for example, if you want publication data to format correctly if you don’t know the publisher. E.g.

London: Bloggs, 1765
London, 1765


London: Bloggs, 1765
London: 1765

Ideally one should be able to say “If the publisher field is empty, put a comma after the place, otherwise put a colon there and the comma after the publisher”.

But one can’t.


Sente scans Pages as well, and is integrated with Mellel and Word. Not much to choose between it and Bookends; personal preference, really. Sente does humanities footnote styles like Chicago and MHRA (with tweaking; it’s a bitch of a style) just fine. De gustibus non est disputandum, I suppose.

I’m a social scientist and I use Zotero ( as ref manager, as

  1. it’s free and open source;
  2. I find it more versatile than Bookends, whose ugly interface I can’t really bear, as it can store webpages, and annotate capture of them;
  3. it now supports RTF scanning ( for write&cite (although it still has some glitches on page numbers), so no need to use a proper plug-in, you just export from Scriv into RTF and then you scan the doc with Zotero et voilà, the bibliography is done;
  4. it has a syncing service so that you can access your bibliography from anywhere and you always have it backed up.
  5. it handles PDFs as well as any sort of other publication, unlike Papers, which is bad with books.

So here’s my workflow:
Search the net, find the PDF, download it in Zotero with all the ref metadata, open it in Preview, confortably annotate it, save it (which keeps it into zotero’s folder).
When - and only when - I decide that I want to use that PDF file for my research paper, I import it into scrivener from zotero: /Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles//storage and at this point you just search within the storage folder with the OS X embedded engine right there in the dialog window.
Result: you have your annotated PDF file ready for use, with notes and everything! The only incovenience is that notes in annotated PDFs are not searcheable nor exportable as text all at once in Preview, but you can use Adobe Reader instead if you need searchability (not exportability though :frowning: )

I hope it’s helpful.