How to do citations


First, if you are not using a citation manager there is nothing special to inserting citations. They are just text like anything else. In other words, there is no mystery about putting in in-text citations if you are doing it yourself. You need to understand the citation conventions of the citation sryle you are using, obviously, but there is no Scrivener-specific mystery here. So, maybe you are manually typing an in text citation like ‘(Amalthya, 2022)’. Make sure there is something in your bibliography that corresponds to this. End of story.


It is entirely likely that your phd will be required to be turned in in Word format. And this has a tangible impact on your range of options in what you might do in Scrivener to cite – knowing that in the end you will be Compiling to docx format.


The description you got from Orpheus is (I think) for inserting “temporary citations” into your text and is basically the same procedure you would follow with Endnote (which is the software I know). Instead of inserting fully formatted citations, you would insert into Scriv temporary citations which are uniquely identifiable by your citation manager. ( When you flip to the Endnote app and select one or more citations, the ordinary cmd-C copy operation puts the temporary citation you need on the clipboard for Pasting.) If you were using Endnote, you would compile your thesis to docx or rtf and then run Endnote on the result to replace the temporary citations with citations in your chosen format and automatically build a bibliography at the end of the document. In Endnote a temporary citation looks like this:

{Amalthya, 2022 #3652}

or maybe

{Amalthya, 2022 #3652, @24}, if a particular page is being cited,

or even

{, 2022 #3652}

(Endnote is smart enough to know that in certain citation styles it matters whether a citation is in the body of the text or in a footnote.)

Good luck!

Bonus comment: Let’s see. You seek to become certified as the very highest-level of expert in some area of human endeavor, but refuse to use Endnote (which you can probably get through your university for free or little) because (even in its most basic use) it is “too complicated” for you. What is wrong with this picture? [I make this pointed comment with nothing but love and hope.]


The last time I checked Zotero didn’t play well with Scrivener. It was a major pain. You may have to just bite the bullet and learn EndNote.


Yes, that is correct

From the OP’s comment about File → Options, it looks like they are using Windows. If that’s right, Bookends is not a possibility and their choice is limited to Zotero or Endnote, as Mendeley seems not to work for them.

Maybe a Windows user will have further suggestions and advice.


PS These days, I wouldn’t dream of writing a PhD thesis without a bibliography manager.


I am anticipating a near-term future need (I have decided it’s essential) to use Scrivener with academic citations. I’ll probably go with EndNote as used most with colleages which I think is a valuable resource, but I have looked into Zotero (which my wife uses with integration with Word). I have found Cornell University guidance on Zotero and Scrivener which you might want to try out if Zotero is a potential target.

Edit: also came across following about Zotero and Scrivener.

Use your favourite search engine (and search this forum) for more insights.


Note to be repeated ad nauseum: Do NOT use Mendeley, see my previous advice here: Mendeley Integration Prospects? - #2 by nontroppo or Citation / references - #6 by nontroppo or a bunch of other threads… It annoys me how Mendeley, given Elsevier’s dominance and marketing power sucks up naive users even though, apart from the ease of adding refs from webpages, everything about Mendeley is worst-in-class…

I will also self-quote here some general advice for students starting a Ph.D. or anyone thinking about research:

In general, the recommendation I make to my students is that building up your bibliographic references and notes on academic papers or books that will define your studies is critical to your development, and more than justifies a small financial investment. I know as a student one may feel buying a tool is hard to justify when free “good-enough” options exist, but curating knowledge is hard, and adding more bumps on the road has a price…
Word, a tool that depends on a format monopoly, does not help in any way to curate knowledge or develop long-form work, and imposes significant distractions. It was designed for “shallow” office work. Mendeley is a free corporate tool which (apart from the benefits of integration in the Elsevier walled garden) is devolving its citation system to this minimum denominator, Word. This is a fragile and impoverished environment in which to build an academic project…
Citation / references - #33 by nontroppo

If you have access to Endnote, I think the workflow is certainly easier than with Zotero, and it is not too hard to learn and there are lots of tutorials etc. I personally would still take the time to learn Zotero if I had to choose, as it affords much more future flexibility down the road.

Another potential app to try is JabRef; also free. It has I think one of the best reference database editors even beating the Gold-standard of ref managers, Bookends, in some places. It does have a LibreOffice / Word interface but I have not tried it in a full workflow so YMMV…


That article on JSTOR Daily had some good tips on how to organize research material for writing, but unfortunately nothing about about adding citations.

If Tara (the OP) has the budget she could get a Mac and use Scriv + BookEnds, because what is said below is true.

Otherwise it would seem that JabRef would be the best way to go on the Windows platform. That is what I would try if I was using Windows.

yes. organising the hardest part.

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Thank you guys for all the feed back; I’ll take it to heart. I’ve been watching youtube how to videos and it seems mendeley doesn’t play nice with anything other than word. I’ve found a bunch using Zotero and Scrivener and a few with Endnote. I really appreciate the information. I’ll look into JabRef- I have never heard of this one before.
I have also just learned about temporary citations. I didn’t know these existed or what they were, or what RTF scan is, or any of that. youtube is helping explain what those are.
So what I’m seeing is that you put in a temporary citation, which is basically a placeholder?, then when you compile, you have the reference manage ‘scan?’ the compiled document and it looks for those placeholders, replaces them with the citation, then forms the bibliography that you can attach at the end? Is this correct?
When I was in school last, there was no such thing as a citation manager so I really mean Newbie in the original post :slight_smile: But I can’t even imagine trying to keep tract of all the citations I will have for my thesis without one. I used typewriters in high school :slight_smile:
Thanks y’all!

P.S Edit- can you compile twice? Like, after you compile using the scan option and add the bibliograph, can you compile again into a docx file? Or once you add the bibliography, that is your finished product?

Nope, me neither, that’s why i’m asking :slight_smile: I wouldn’t even know how to begin being that organized. hehe.

@nontroppo I understand what you mean by a small financial investment, but I literally just bought a brand new computer 6 months ago for this, so I can’t justify buying another one. Hence why i’m asking advice here. It may be a little more work than a Mac/Bookends, however, sometimes the extra effort is worth it. :slight_smile:

Yes. The reason being is that citation manager allows you to change your citation style depending on where you submit the document. So you can change from Chicago, to MLA to APA or any of the myriad styles that are out there.

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Too bad you didn’t ask us then before your new machine. :innocent:

You might also get some leads from your school, what are they using, and what workflows do they suggest that work.

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So what I’m seeing is that you put in a temporary citation, which is basically a placeholder?, then when you compile, you have the reference manage ‘scan?’ the compiled document and it looks for those placeholders, replaces them with the citation, then forms the bibliography that you can attach at the end? Is this correct?

Almost correct. 1) The compile (in the workflow you describe) produces an RTF file of your draft. Then you take that rtf file and give it to the citation manager to process directly (so this is happening outside Scrivener). The result is a rtf file with fully formatted citations and a bibliography. 2) Yes, the bibliography will be added onto the end of the rtf document for you — you don’t need to tack it on after the fact. (As in all cases here, I am relying on my experience with Endnote, but expect others work similarly.)

can you compile twice? Like, after you compile using the scan option and add the bibliograph, can you compile again into a docx file? Or once you add the bibliography, that is your finished product?

RTF files can be opened directly in Word, and you can just resave it then in docx format.

Compile is probably best thought of as a one directional operation. Think of your workflow as — i) write in Scrivener, ii) compile a draft to rtf format, iii) process the rtf with citation manager. You are good to go with the resulting rtf (Word opens them) or convert the rtf to docx.


p.s. In my experience, when you are working drafts, you rarely need to convert those temporary citations to their finished look. They are human readable as is. So, you would likely be often compiling just a chapter of your thesis directly inti docx format and handing to you advisor for feedback. Formatting the citations in some finished way is very much an endgame thing. If you ever need a quick bibliography, your citation manager can generate a freestanding bibliography from and collection of cites you pick. For example, in Endnote, if I select some citations in my list, and press cmd-K, Endnote puts on the clipboard a completely formatted list of full citations. I can paste this in any app that handles rich text and print it out or whatever.


I have no experience with EndNotes but with BookEnds (macOS) you can also “unscan” a document and then rescan it. The only reason I can think of doing so is if you want to use a different citation style.

Yes, you can do this too with Endnote — certainly if you were using Endnote from inside Word using their Word plug-in. But these possibilities take us rather afield from the issues at hand.

The important thing here, as I see it, is that the OP will not need to be “re-Compiling” her draft rtf output once the cite manager has processed it — nor will she need to tack her bibliography onto that manually.

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:slight_smile: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Yep Already tried them, it was mendeley, zotero, and endnote were the ones they recommended. And my school doesn’t even know about scrivener- I found other school websites, like Cornell, that has some information. So now that I understand the general gist of it, I can probably work it through. Goal this week is to get this working on my grant proposal (small document) and continue practicing on the smaller stuff. Then when I actually start writing the thesis, I will hopefully have it down. Thanks for your advice. I’m going to post more questions on different topics that i’ve been messing around with like formatting, etc. Much appreciated.

@gr Very helpful explanation, thank you.