Merging Excel spreadsheet (literature review) into Scrivener

I know a lot of people who use Zotero with Scrivener but I prefer Excel as I am more familiar with the spreadsheet. However, I am not sure how to merge the spreadsheet into Scrivener. I would appreciate any feedback and insights. I also bought Devonthink software which someone recommended I use. Is there a site to show how I can optimize these 2 programs into Scrivener? My problem is finding my materials i.e. word documents, pdf research articles, excel spreadsheet, powerpoint, which is scattered all over my desktop so for 2022, I NEED to maintain some sanity and find a way to put them all in ONE place. Hopefully Scrivener can help somehow? Would be most grateful for any feedback, ideas, and suggestions. Thank you.

You can bookmark external files in Scrivener or drag them into Research.

You use Excel as a citation manager? :thinking:

Yeah, hmm. Must be copy-and-pasting formatted citations to bibliographies.

I’m not experienced with Devonthink, but my recommendation would be to import all of your files into the Research folder so you can easily view them in one place. I’d also create a folder for your project and have all of the original files grouped together nicely, rather than scattered on your desktop :wink:

Note that files like Excel spreadsheets can’t be edited within Scrivener, but they can be viewed and referenced.

And, of course, opened for editing in their original external application!

What exactly do you use Excel for? What is your workflow? If we knew that it might be easier to answer your question.

What do you mean by “merge”? Something similar to Mail Merge, where you use a spreadsheet as a database of addresses to either send emails or print mailing labels using the spreadsheet + another application (Scrivener in this case)? What do you expect out of the end result of this “merge”?

Scrivener is not the tool I’d choose for printing envelopes.

<sarcasm>Nonsense! Scrivener is a tool designed for importing tabulated data and perfectly aligning that data into very specific, nitpicky layouts, as we all know! </sarcasm>

When I asked "do you mean something similar to mail merge… I didn’t mean are you trying to print envelopes with Scrivener?

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But I did, apparently.

Envelopes, mailing labels. Not much difference.

@LenaGan Since I’m apparently confusing matters by using an example of how other software can merge data from a spreadsheet, let me ask plainly: Are you hoping to merge a spreadsheet’s columns of data into Scrivener’s metadata columns? If so, I’m sorry, but that’s not a feature of the software.

You mentioned Zotero, which implies you’re working with citations; Are you hoping to integrate the contents of your spreadsheet into a Scrivner project so that you can compile a paper with those citations as footnotes/end notes? Something similar to mail merge (but to be clear for those who are confused, not to print address labels of envelopes) might work after you compile to a word processing format, but that would be between Excel and Word, if you can find a way to insert template codes into Scrivener that Word will recognize as placeholders for certain citations…. I’m really outside my area here, so please forgive the vagueness and misused terms.

You also mentioned Devonthink, but it’s not a citation manager; it’s a general-purpose document repository with strong search capabilities. Scrivener can accept most formats of files into it’s projects, though it can only really interpret Word, RTF, plain text (including MMD), and html in a way that allows for searching the contents of that data; a spreadsheet would (for instance) just be an object stored in the project that could then be opened by Excel for editing and/or searching data within the file.

Hopefully, the above helps you clarify what you’re after, and/or tells you what you were trying to glean. Good luck!

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Thank you for responding and my apologies for the misunderstanding. I am using Scrivener to do my dissertation. Hence my literature review was done in the Excel spreadsheet. Zotero would be a citation manager but I was hoping to view my Lit Review in the Excel spreadsheet in Scrivener so I can look at it as I write. I mention Devonthink because I was recommended to purchase it in order to help me organize my paper. I guess I am “converting” to using technology rather than index cards but it is taking me some time. Thank you.

I urge you to use the feature of your Mac which you can work in Scrivener in a window, say 1/2 the screen, and Excel in another window, using the other 1/2 the screen. adjust the relative sizes of windows to suit. keep things simple.

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If you want to view the spreadsheet from within the Scrivener interface, you can try this: Drag the spreadsheet file into your Scrivener project’s research folder. That will make a copy of the spreadsheet, so this won’t have any effect on the original. Now view it in an editor split in Scrivener. See if you can view all of it that you need to refer to. If so, you’re golden. If not, then drag it to the project’s trash and empty it, then go back to the original file.

You could try to print your spreadsheet to a PDF. Scrivener can read PDFs fine, so if you can get a good PDF out of it, then you can import the PDF into Scrivener for reference.

Or you can follow rms’s advice and keep them separate, but open the spreadsheet in full screen, Scrivener in full screen, and then drag one FS desktop to the other to combine them onto one side-by-side full screen split.

Most spreadsheets tend to be laid out in a wide format, so I’m thinking that using one of my solutions allows you to view the in-Scrivener copy of your data in a horizontally split Scrivener editor for best readability.

Try some of the above out and see what works. What could it hurt?

If you are writing a dissertation then at some point you are going to need a citation manager. Since you are on macOS then BookEnds works flawlessly with Scrivener. (Zotero has issues.) You can gradually add your references that you use in your dissertation to BookEnds. This will allow you to add citations as well as generating a bibliography of all cited works at the end of your paper. BookEnds allows you to use a myriad of styles including but not limited to Chicago, APA, and MLA.

BookEnds has a lot of other useful features for writing a paper that Excel doesn’t have. BookEnds is specifically designed as an academic tool for the kind of work you are doing; Excel, with all its virtues, was not.

The following thread has a lot of discussion on the topic of citation managers that play well with Scrivener. You might be profited by reading it before starting your dissertation

Plus one on this advice.

Now, you still need to handle the other need which was to bring organization to your materials which are a bit scattered across your Mac at the moment. While you can store files of all types inside a scrivener project’s Research area (and open those files in their original apps like Excel from there), the truth is that organizing those materials in there is not going to be fundamentally different than keeping the same materials organized in a folder on your Mac. So, if you are challenged to do the latter, it is not clear moving all those materials into your Scriv project is helping you. (Not that there are not ways it could, but unless you’ve got an idea what they are…)

If you had many different projects going with their own resources that you wanted to keep with their respective projects that would be one thing, but the dissertation is one big thing that will occupy your time. So, one big scriv project and one big folder on your mac for all sorts of resources — are two things you will not lose track of!

@LenaGan, I second what @gr said, but I’ll add that you can make each external file a document or project bookmark in Scrivener, so that you can easily reach them when needed.