Citing in Scrivener

Hi All,

Just wondering, I have been reading about the various options to use citations in scrivener. I understand that scrivener does not allow you to build up a reference database and to “quote” as you write. Firstly, can I just say, that if you added this functionality in, it would drop you into the top software packages to use for academic writing. In the absence of this functionality, I would like to know how I “integrate” any of the other packages, (i.e. Sente, Bookends, Endnotes etc.). What I would really like to know is, if I invest in another package, which one would allow me to “cite as I write” as this is my preferred way of writing, and as I am thinking of doing my complete PhD thesis with Scrivener, it would be a major help to me.

Therefore, my question is really two-fold: Firstly, how easy is integration (I am not able to write software myself) and which package is best for integration, and secondly: which package would allow me to “cite as I write”?

Thanks for your time and effort to help me out.


Have been using MS Word 2011 for Mac so far with the citing function built in, which has worked so far, but now I am needing to “step up a gear” (or two) any help, would be great! :neutral_face: :neutral_face: :neutral_face:


As far as I know, Scrivener does not provide a “cite as you write” citation method. Instead it allows you to specify an independent bibliography manager which you can access quickly with a keyboard shortcut (cmd+Y). Then, integration is a feature you’ll have to look for in the software citation app you use.

I don’t know how Bookends or Papers work in the long run, but I feel happy with the Scrivener+Sente combo. Hitting cmd+Y you can “cite as you write” by dragging and dropping references (not good for complex citations), or using “in-text citation modifiers”. For example, I write [Bourdieu, 2001] in Scrivener instead of (Bour…), after that I export/compile and Sente can scan the output files in order to replace the closed brackets with the rounded or other characters specified in the citation system I chosed, adding also a bibliography section if I wish.
(Sorry, It’s hard for me to narrate the process in English so I include a link to Sente User Guide where you can read about how it works
Results are as good as your Sente database entries are rightly fulfilled/set up, which is relatively easy as it has an online entry matching function.

If you’re looking for a good bibliography management solution I recommend you to take a look at Bookends, Papers or Sente; which also include pdf managing functions. I believe their interoperability with Scrivener will be similar. Mendeley is also a free tool with a very interesting “social” scope. I like Zotero too, but it’s more focused on collecting and sorting references. Decisions in this field depend on tastes and workflows. You can use trial versions to see what app better fits your needs.

Hope I helped. Sorry for any English mistakes, it’s not my mother tongue. Feel free to ask me if you have more questions.

You can use Scrivener with other reference software (such as Papers 2, Endnote, Sente, etc). I use EndNote without problem.

My workflow might be a little different than others (I don’t know) but for my first draft, I just wrote. Every citation, I just made an in-text annotation noting the correct reference with the word “EndNote”. This meant I could focus on my words and not get bogged down in ensuring the reference was in EndNote, properly entered, etc. Now that I am editing my thesis, every time I come across the word EndNote, I simply copy & paste the reference (or references) from EndNote into Scrivener and the correct EndNote code is inserted (drag & drop will also work). If it’s not in EndNote (or I find errors there) I can spend the time fixing it. This has been working brilliantly well except for the few occasions when my initial references were incorrect or inaccurate.

My workflow.

  1. Write in Scrivener. When I need to put in a citation, Cmd-y switches to Bookends. I find the reference I need in my database, then Cmd-y switches back to Scrivener, simultaneously pasting in for me a temporary citation which looks like this: {Godwin, 1979, #46181}. If I want a page number or page range in the citation, I add it, like this:: {Godwin, 1979, #46181@22–30} Continue writing in Scrivener and citing as I go.

  2. Export to .rtf from Scrivener, either with Compile… or Export>Files…

  3. Either
    a) Scan the rtf file directly with Bookends.
    b) Import the rtf to Word or Mellel and scan with Bookends within the word processor.
    In either case, the result is a file that has in-text references that look how I want them: e.g. (Godwin, 1979, pp. 22–30), and a list of references at the end of the file that look how I want them: e.g.

Geim, A. K. & ter Tisha, H. A. M. S. (2001). Detection of earth rotation with a diamagnetically levitating gyroscope. Physica B: Condensed Matter, 294-295, 736-739.
Godwin, J. (1979). Layers of Meaning in “The Magic Flute”. The Musical Quarterly, 65(4), 471–492.
Smith, T. W. (1987). That which we call welfare by any other name would smell sweeter: An analysis of the impact of question wording on response patterns. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 51(1), 75-83.

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Hi All

Thanks for the amazingly quick support. I think I will invest in BE and adopt the workflow that NickA suggested, which seems more natural to me, and more straightforward. All comments are extremely helpful and I will keep coming back to these posts, until I am fluent in my workflow.

Its been very helpful indeed!


Bookends is on sale right now as a part of a bundle (which also includes Mellel, a nice word processor) at $50 for the whole thing, which would be a steal if it were only those two, but you get Toast, a recovery program, and some other things as well.

I am a new Scrivener user and have used Sente for many years. How do I specify Sente with the shortcut Cmd+Y in the Preferences? I don’t see any obvious place for it (although there must be one, of course). Any tip? Thanks

pp 269-70 of the Scriv manual:

Thanks. I don’t know how I missed it earlier :smiley:

I am using Endnote with Scrivener, I understand that I can use @ to insert page number. What if I want to insert other details in the citations such as part. section.,article/provision, para, etc.?what signs I should use? I assume is not @ anymore… Thanks!!!

You need to look at the documentation for Endnote or go to their forums. The functionality you are asking about is nothing to do with Scrivener and their tech staff may not know anything about Endnote. I haven’t used Endnote for twenty years, so I don’t know what it offers nowadays. I far prefer Bookends.

i have recently migrated from Endnotes to Bookends (which I much prefer). My problem is I began a rather large and still unfinished Scrivener project using Endnote and have numerous footnotes in Scrivener files referring to Endnote. Do I need to finish this project using Endnote or is there someway I can now start using Bookends?

You don’t give enough detail about how you have been using Endnote. For example, you don’t say if you have been inserting temporary citations in the text, and if so, what format they take. If that is what you have been doing and if they take the form in which a unique ID number is used (e.g. #1234), you will need to make sure that every item in the Bookends database uses the same ID number as the same item in Endnote. I would think this could be done, but I would suggest this is more a question for the Bookends forum, not here. If you can get parity between the original Endnote database and the new one in Bookends, I would think you could switch, but it is a while since I did such a thing. (I have moved from Endnote to Bookends to Sente to Papers to Bookends over a long period of time, and managed to do it without losing anything, but it can take a bit of work.)

From the bookends FAQ: … _that_have

Bookends tried to match temporary references as best it can, you can also read through the “Scanning Documents” section of the user manual…

Thanks to both of you. I have put temporary citations in from Endnote. I tried compiling into Word and they were picked up in the proper way. Although I am now building my citations/references in Bookends now, I can continue to add those I will actually cite also to Endnote.

Hi, I’m starting to work with Scrivener, as a word processor it’s very good but I can’t understand the integration with the bibliography manager, I have Zotero, I’ve installed others to test, I’ve just used Microsoft Word, but I like Scrivener and I think it’s perfect for academic writing, but I don’t understand how to use it.
Do I have to put some “codes”?
–I read the manual, at least regarding this–
Thank you

Hola estoy comenzando a trabajar con Scrivener, como procesador de texto es muy bueno pero no logro entender la integración con el gestor de bibliografía, tengo Zotero, he instalado otros para probar, vengo de usar microsoft word, pero me gusta Scrivener y creo que es perfecto para la escritiura académica, pero no entiendo como usarlo.
¿Tengo que ir poniendo unos “códigos”?
–Leí el manual, por lo menos lo referente a esto–

Hello, how do you get this “code” {Godwin, 1979, #46181} in the manager that you then put in the text…
I use Zotero, it should be similar.
Thank you so much

I use Bookends (MacOS only). When set up, in Scrivener, Cmd-Y takes you to Bookends, choose your reference from the Bookends library, then Cmd-Y takes you back to Scrivener and pastes a temporary citation code in place. When you have compiled, use Bookends to scan the document and it will turn the temporary citations into full citations—there’s a long list of citation styles to choose from, all of which can be modified if you need to—and will build the bibliography for you.

If you use Nisus Writer Pro or Mellel as your word processor, you can do the scanning from within them and the bibliography is integrated automatically; I don’t know about Word or Libre Office, but you might have to scan with Bookends and then integrate the bibliography afterwards.

If you are planning on using Pandoc/LaTeX/etc., Bookends can create a BibTex repository in parallel with its main library. There are threads on that.

I don’t know much about Zotero. It is free, I believe, but is far less integrated with the system as I understand it.

Hope that helps.


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Lo probé y funciona, con Bookends pero no es así en Zotero…
Zotero es modelo fremium…
Muchas gracias