Citation / references

Hi Folks, I am writing a phd thesis. Needing to cite and reference academically. I’ve watched a couple of youtube videos on citation and either they don’t give me the full answer (like how to add in a bibliography) or the citation method they use doesn’t work. Perhaps they are on a mac or are using a different reference manager. I like the concept of scrivener but this is a deal breaker for me. I can’t seem to get citation to work. I’m doing a poor work around which isn’t working that well. Can anyone describe please how they either (hopefully using mendeley or zotero or similar) use citation within the text and later incorporate a list of references?

thank you very much Zoe

I only know how Endnote does it, but perhaps others are similar. Basically, you use what Endnote calls /temporary citations/ — which is a simple cognizable bracketed cite text which crucially incorporates a reference id number. Copying a line item from the Endnote database gives you this — which you can embellish with, for example a page reference. (You can also type temp cites yourself w/o reference id and Endnote will look up the citation for you (and ask after any ambiguity). So, these temp citations live in your manuscript.

For a bibliography generated from your citations: Starting from your text written in Scrivener, you would Compile your thesis into rtf or docx file format and then tell Endnote to process that. It would turn (in place) all the temp citations into citations of the style you specify and add a formatted bibliography at the end of the document. (It is also possible to copy a set of references directly from Endnote that is already formatted in your chosen bibliographic style, so you can paste a chunk of ad hoc bibliography anywhere you like.)

If it helps to know it, you would certainly note be the first person to use Scrivener to write a dissertation!!

Indeed. I wrote an 85,000 word PhD thesis in Scrivener (for Mac, v2) using Bookends as my reference manager. The process I used was pretty much identical to that described by @gr.

Don’t expect to get “Cite While You Write” as you might with MS Word and EndNote. You need to compile the manuscript and run it through EndNote/Zotero/whatever in order to get the final look. Getting a final draft with all the citations formatted correctly and the bibliography at the end took a matter of minutes when I had finished writing. I seem to remember I did that last part sitting with my laptop in the foyer of the university before taking the final file to the print shop – in a state of total exhaustion.

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Don’t use Mendeley whatever you do:

Indeed, a quick look at the Mendeley website does seem to suggest that their whole workflow is designed around interactively using the plugins they have designed only for Word and Libreoffice. I am not seeing there any indication that the have a method of pulling temporary citations from one’s citation database to use in any other program (and to process the resulting document later. I could be wrong, of course…

Mendeley has two different desktop apps, an older one (awful UI) still supports BibTeX keys and you could use something like Pandoc. But their new app (even more awful UI) removed even this and as I mentioned in another thread, when I asked their support about workflows other than being locked into Word/Libreoffice plugins, I got corporate BS replies.

Apart from Zotero (which can integrate into a Scrivener workfow), JabRef is another alternative. It is a great reference manager (very comprehensive ref editor, much better than Zotero etc.), free and cross-platform. While originally for LaTeX workflows, it does support formatting LibreOffice docs and so you should be able to plug it into a Scrivener workflow too…

For completeness, a Scrivener + Pandoc workflow gets you a complete bibliography + citations solution without any need to scan documents etc. If I was on Windows I would use JabRef to manage my references and Pandoc to convert Scrivener output…

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The mendeley could account for why I can’t get to work with these tag references. I tried the option of crafting an ad hoc reference table and writing by hand my citations. It didn’t work great and negated any benefit from using scrivener. Im not convinced a chapter in that scrivener is working for me. It’s turning into more of a headache. It also didn’t handle my footnotes that well. I’ll have a read through the suggestions again to check if I’ve missed anything. Thank you everyone. So disappointed the software doesn’t do this… It’s a big thing.

Doesn’t do what? Just to be clear, it seems to me what you are finding is that Mendeley is not doing something you wanted, not Scrivener. If the citation management software is built only to work via plugin and the maker only makes a plugin for MS Word, let’s be disappointed in them for that. But then also, why use Mendeley?

By the way, what was the trouble you were finding with (inline or inspector) footnotes? Maybe we can help there.

There’s a lot more to writing than footnote generation, even in a heavily-footnoted document like a thesis. If you are evaluating Scrivener based only on its citation tools, you are mostly missing the point.

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Hi zhdevon,

I’m likely to get myself into a bit of trouble here (I may be the most apolitical person who ever lived), but just curious … are you familiar with LaTeX?

I currently use Scrivener+LaTeX with BibDesk for my bibliography and just broke 500+ references. Works great … LaTeX provides all kinds of cross referencing, internal and external linking, and the like …

If you’re not already using Scrivener with LaTeX, however, the ‘activation energy’ to do so may just be beyond what resources are at your disposal. Your advisor may have more insight on what would be involved to do so.[1] StackExchange for TeX may be a good resource to explore with others also writing their thesis using LaTeX … but if you’re already not familiar with LaTeX, there would be a very steep learning curve to using Scrivener with LaTeX.

To put it another way, for those who are already using LaTeX, anyone not also using Scrivener is missing out on an amazing way to do so.

Thanks … and good luck on your thesis …

[1] Searching for ‘LaTeX thesis package’ can provide a bit of insight into the resources available for writing a thesis.

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I need software to work with citation software. Preferably mendeley because I’ve got years and years of references in there. So not missing the point in terms of the trial. They are generous enough with this, thankfully.

Footnote generation not heard that before. I’m old enough

I have a feeling the plugins for mendeley did previous work but doesn’t seem to now. I’m not blaming scrivener for that. Just assessing if it meets my needs. I’d like it to. But not sure the workarounds are worth it.

Thanks. I have heard about Latex. I’m interesting option. If I’m honest, I’m writing my thesis whilst working.

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts I’ll go through the suggestions.

While I don’t use Zotero — I’m a Mac user and use a Mac-only reference manager — as far as I understand Zotero plays more nicely with Scrivener than Mendeley. So, following this thread, I found this

and thought it might be worth your while pursuing.



The last I checked Zotero doesn’t play with Scrivener. But Bookends is splendid when it comes to working seamlessly with Scrivener.

This older thread covers a lot of ground regarding which citation managers work well with Scrivener.

Last year I checked up on the Zotero group and there were still not playing well with Scrivener and thought it was Scrivener’s fault.

I just noticed that the OP is on Windows. My apologies. But I don’t have a clue of what you could use as a citation manager for that platform that would integrate with Scrivener.

My understanding is that Zotero can be used to post temporary citations into Scrivener (just like Bookends) but that it may have problems with scanning references with accented characters (at least on the Mac) in RTF documents.

Current versions of Mendeley, as I understand it, only work with Word and LibreOffice, so the OP would seem to have the choice of trying to write their thesis in Word, or getting their references out of Mendeley into something like Zotero.



I used Mendeley at one stage (and Zotero), but went back to Endnote due to better university support and understanding. I am a month out from thesis submission (year 9 of my PhD) and am only just moving to processing final amendments outside of Scrivener. Endnote references have been there from the beginning of my Scrivener use (versions 1, 1.9 and 3). I use this form {Conole, 2016 #5217} of embedded reference, before compiling to Word and updating using the Endnote plugin. It is a copy and paste form Endnote.
It is quite feasible to import your existing library in to Endnote from Mendeley.
Best of luck with your technology and process “choice making” (choice making is my research area).

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