Bookends vs Sente (it's not redundant)

What citation manager do you use?

  • Bookends
  • Sente
  • Papers (isn’t exactly a reference manager, but…)
  • Other
  • EndNote
  • scratch paper/sticky notes
  • I’m a writer, I don’ t need no stinkin’ citations

0 voters

Yes, I know there has been some discussion of this in the past, but I was hoping to get an up-to-date sense of which people find easier to use w/ Scrivener, which is more reliable, etc.

I’ve enclosed a poll, but I’m very interested in your views of the two, as well as Papers, if you use that (not precisely comparable, but it’s what I use atm, so …)

My intended use case is for law school research papers, but any insight is helpful.


(again, please describe your workflow, if you have time, after voting… thanks)

Workflow: Zotero w/Word 2011 and Scriv. Not the best–would prefer Zotero with Scriv output to rtf, but can’t do that yet…

My workflow> Draft in scrivener, compile as rtf, scan for endnote temporary citations (usually in word)

(a) Use Sente to locate scholarly sources using databases or Google Scholar, import the reference data into Sente, and download or import PDFs (linked to the reference)
(a1, if necessary) Use PDFClerk Pro to split a 2-up page scan (e.g. books or journals not 8-1/2x11) to individual pages
(a2, if necessary) Use Acrobat Pro to OCR PDFs
(b) Use Sente to annotate PDFs, and/or clip quotes or diagrams, and write and store comments about the source. These become the notes I will use in Scrivener to refer to while writing.
© Export the notes to RTF or OPML files (I wrote a script for this, available for download:
(d) Import RTF/OPML notes to Scrivener’s Research folder.
(e) Use notes while writing in Scrivener (I use split screen mode for this)
(f) When it’s done, compile Scrivener document to RTF, then open in Pages
(g) Scan Pages document using Sente to generate in-text citations and bibliography/reference list.

I have not used any of the other reference managers except for trying them during a trial period. I gather that Sente is the most complete solution, as it includes the tools for locating sources, storing them, annotating them, and taking notes on them. The availability of these functions also on iPad is a plus, although I haven’t used the iPad app. Also impressive is the automatic reference database searches you can set up within Sente to run periodically (although there seems to be no way to specify the frequency for the updates).

I really like Sente, would recommend it, and it is critical to getting my job done. One annoyance is that the UI is sometimes not consistent with most other Mac OS software (e.g. there is currently no Undo function in most parts of it, nevermind multi-level undo). My main complaint is the unresponsiveness of the developers to questions and problems on the forums (contrasts starkly to the Scrivener forums). In fact, there was a thread on the forums complaining about the support that was suddenly made private by the support folks, apparently to hide it from the public discussion. That said, there have been very few show-stopper bugs that I’ve seen, and whenever there is a reference database that has changed its format so that Sente can’t grab the citation details (happens once a year or so for the databases I use), the developer responsible for that section is very quick to respond and fix it.

edit: I also really like the bibliography format editor. Scrivener provides bib styles for many different formats, of which I use APA. Not all types of documents are handled by the bib formats out of the box, but the editor allows you to add them. For example, the unpublished manuscript format isn’t really handled, but I have modified mine to take care of it. You can also make your modified bib style available to other users via the forums.

Mine is similar, but I have Papers in the mix. I import all my academic journal references into Papers and read them there. Any that I use in my thesis (or think I’m likely to use), I export to EndNote. As I write in Scrivener I either paste a temporary EndNote citation or, more frequently, just add an inline annotation that an EndNote citation is needed (so I can keep typing without losing my flow).

With the new version 2 of Papers, I will probably stop using EndNote. However it’s not quite ready yet. I tried Papers 2.0 when it first came out but it was not yet stable, the new citation feature did not work and you cannot edit citation format like you can in EndNote (e.g add reference to page numbers or drop author name). Developers have indicated they addressing these issues, so I imagine that I’ll reinstall it and use exclusively in a few months (hopefully earlier).

I don’t want in any way to hijack this thread, but I don’t want to start yet another on the topic, so please forgive me!

I have used: Papers, Bookends, Sente, EndNote… and I can’t get any of them to work to import papers from JSTOR through the Open University. I know this is a known issue, and the forums of those apps have some suggestions, but I don’t have enough computer experience to understand them. If there is anyone here who could help me, please could you let me know?

Sorry again!

Actually I do use Papers as well, but mostly to keep pdfs handy, and like nom, I export the ones (to endnote) I will use for the current paper. I have never managed to get Papers’ citation system working with any degree of reliability, and I tried Papers 2 but I feel it’s even worse. So I’m sticking to endnote for now. But Sente looks good as well. I think I will wait and see if Papers improves with the next version, and then decide.

I will be glad too see more votes and reviews here and if possible to rename the topic to "Citation managers usage and comparison: Bookends, Sente, Pages, EndNote, …".

Also, in order to gather more feedback from OS X users regarding book managers, I opened a question on

I think that this tread should be moved to Scrivener > Support because it more important about integration of these products with Scrivener.

The thread is fine here, as the op was asking for opinions on non-L&L software.

I’m trying to decide between Sente and Papers 2…Is there any up to date news regarding Papers efforts to offer a better citation system? Have been improved?

How is Papers 2 (as today) compared with Sente?

Thanks for any insights.

Papers 2 is very nice but, in my opinion, is not quite “there” yet. Most of the new features are good, and it manages basic citations in documents, but it is not a full fledged citation manager. For example, last I checked it couldn’t handle inserting citations without a name (e.g. if the name was mentioned in text and only the date was required) although this may not matter if you use a numbered citation system rather than parenthetical citations. Also, some of the search features from version 1 haven’t (yet) made it back into version 2 (although, according to Mekentosj’s website, they are on the way). Personally, I’m still using version 1 and EndNote (although I am also in the final stages of my thesis, so don’t want to rock the boat too much this close to submission). It took mere seconds to import my bibliography into EndNote and that application plays very well with Scrivener and, for the final edit, Word.

I like Papers and continue to support Mekentosj. I still think it’s reference recognition system is unsurpassed. I say that without having tried the current version of Sente, so I can’t make a meaningful comparison between the two.

I continue to watch Papers and expect to update this year. I will wait, however, until after I submit my thesis and all of the features from version 1 that were “temporarily” removed are reinstated.

Thanks, nom.
My question would be: what about Endnote? What doesn’t handle that you are in need of Papers1? What are the difference between papers and endnote? (I keep hearing Endnote all over…)


Why EndNote? EndNote is very good at managing in-text citations and preparing a properly formatted reference list for my end document. In fact it is brilliant at this. But, despite it’s claims to be a good reference manager, in my view it isn’t. It is difficult to edit data and is “clunky” to use. This, in contrast, is where Papers shines. Papers is beautiful and very easy to use. It is incredibly easy to import documents, especially PDFs, and to then add (automatically in many cases) all the citation meta-data to each document. What takes mere seconds in Papers takes many minutes in EndNote. Add up the hundreds of references in a thesis (and that’s only the ones that are used, there are many hundreds more that I didn’t use) then this represents an enormous time saving. Plus it is a more pleasant environment to work in.

When researching material, most of my time is spent in Papers. When writing, I export all the relevant references from Papers to an EndNote file, import that into EndNote then copy and paste those references into Scrivener as required (with some occasional manual tweaks to account for variations in how I want some references to appear). If I need to do more research, I create the new references in Papers and export them to my EndNote file.

Papers holds my master list of references for research, clinical work, teaching and more. I create new EndNote files for each new project I am working on and just export the references I need. Note that a benefit of Papers’ export feature is that includes a link to the original PDF (without duplicating it) which can then be opened from EndNote. A nice touch.

Once I am done with writing and editing, I compile my Scrivener project into a Word document then (from within Word) run the EndNote plug-in that will scan my thesis for all the references, convert them to properly APA formatted parenthetical references and add a full APA-style Reference list at the end. Whole process will take maybe a few minutes and I can then spend my remaining time proof-reading and editing any obscure references that EndNote didn’t get quite right. Note that while I use APA style, EndNote can handle pretty much all the major reference styles (Harvard, Turabian, etc) plus quite a few obscure ones. It really is very good at this.

Also, my university has a site licence for EndNote so all staff and students can install it for free. This makes it a very attractive option compared to, for example, Sente. Yet, despite this, I still paid for Papers (they do offer an education discount) and use it daily.

I haven’t used EndNote since the early part of the last decade, so don’t know what it’s like now. But from your description it sounds like I’m not missing too much. At the time it felt like a port from the PC version, not really a Mac application. I hated the EndNote business model (reminds me of SPSS) that had constant major revisions that required me to pay for another license. I stopped using it in version 7.

I tried Papers a while ago but when I realized it couldn’t handle citation generation, I canned it.

When I found Sente a little over a year ago, it looked like I had found a good melding of the two. Sente’s interface is not as elegant as Papers, but I certainly like its reference management, and especially the ability to search for articles, download and import them, picking up metadata and then using Sente to take notes, which I export to Scrivener for drafting my manuscript. and they don’t make you pay for a new version every year like EndNote seemed to.

The Sente interface is undergoing a major revision, which will be in beta testing soon, so we’ll see what they can do about the interface. And, they really need to work on their customer service skills (need lessons from Literature and Latte). But they are good developers and good people, and there’s a decent user community (not as good as Scriveners) that help each other out when they can.

I have used endnote, papers and sente. Can’t comment on bookends sorry. With Sente 6 I have stopped using the others, even for reading PDFs. The killer feature for me is the synchronization. I can open up Sente on my iPad, make annotations, and when I get back to either my work computer or my home computer they are synchronized, in the background, without me having to do a thing. Priceless.

Ok…I’ve been busy trying both Sente and Papers2 (tried EndNote and last one day: can`t deal with a complex “windows-pc” original environment…-to be honest: I didn’t understand its logic…) Papers2 is something else…It has a lot to improve, the search engine for metadata is terrible, but I’m confident and hoping it’s just a matter of time until it gets fixed …(and it’s also very well, beautifully designed)…Sente, on the other hand, it’s great for searching (and syncing), fast, and has this fantastic ability to highlight and annotate pdf’s! Also, personal support has been outstanding (I wrote a couple of mails and got almost instant replies!). However, I didn’t like it’s citation method in Word and Scrivener, and it’s “scan method” has resulted a bit confusing… (Papers2 isn’t that good in this respect, but nevertheless my initial impression is that it has a more friendly way…).
Well, It’s hard to decide.
I still have more than 20 days of trial period on both programs to make up my mind… let’s see… :neutral_face:

I also thought Papers was aesthetically very pleasing, a quality I appreciate. I can’t say too much as it’s not released, but I have used a preview version of the new Sente user interface coming in the next version and I can say it represents a major modernization of the Sente UI. Much more intuitive and like many Mac programs, is beginning to converge with the iOS paradigms.They are definitely listening to users, and making changes. I don’t know what might be changing in the file scanning area, but as it is it works pretty well for me.

Today, Bookends is in a bundle on MUPromo. I purchased it, attracted by the integration with Scrivener and Nisus Writer.

Unfortunately, I cannot really manage to like it. I find it confusing and bad looking. I’ve a better feel with BibDesk - that unfortunately has a worse integration with other software, and does not allow for scan/unscan operations on wordprocessing documents.

I would be greateful to everyone who can help me like Bookends over BibDesk. The scan/unscan feature would be a welcome addition to my workflow.