PDF alias in Research folder vs PDF reference in Document References

Dear All,

Can someone please explain the difference and virtue of using an alias in the Research folder for a PDF file located in an external program versus making a Document Reference in the Inspector to that same external PDF file? I am having trouble figuring out which way is better for how I work.

To explain further: I keep all my research PDF files in my bibliography application (Bookends). I find it most convenient and orderly to have all the meta-data and my notes and highlights for the individual PDFs relevant to my work in one central place, rather than having the PDF files themselves scattered across multiple projects. In this case, is it smarter to make Document References which will then open in Bookends, where I can see the article and makes notes, etc., or should I make an alias in the Research folder to the PDF, which will then also open in Bookends?

I realize that one difference is that Document References are linked to specific files/folders in the Binder, so that I can, say, easily check a quotation for accuracy, while a PDF file or alias in the Research folder is not assigned to a specific document, but it can be linked to various documents/files in the project by using an Internal Link in the Document References panel in the Inspector. I’m just not sure which way to think about this.

Any usage, workflow, or technical suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading, and I hope this question helps others, too!


Actually your summary is very accurate. I also try to keep my PDFs in bookends, and I mostly use aliases to my Bookends PDFs in the Binder organised in Folders for general articles, but then also use bookmarks (document references) for papers that apply to a specific doc in the Binder. As they are aliases it doesn’t matter to have then duplicated in both places.

Thanks, nontroppo! I appreciate your response. I’m still not sure which way I like better, so I’ll just have to experiment more.

A follow-up, if you don’t mind: with a Document Reference, is it possible to associate it to a specific sentence or section of the document, or is a DR for the entire document only? For instance, if I use a quotation and want quick access to the original article it’s from to check the accuracy, can I make the DR specific to the end of this quote, or can I only link it to the whole document?

I tried doing something like this with a Comment, putting the alias in the note itself so that it’s right there for me to check, but I don’t think it’s possible to add a Reference link or a Research file alias in a comment. Any thoughts?

Thanks again! ~glj.

To me that sounds more like a hyperlink to a file than anything else. Can you select the text that refers to a PDF, use Edit/Add Link…, set the type to “File” and drag and drop the PDF into the text field.

I tried opening a PDF to a specific page using file:// URIs from a File link in scrivener like so: /Users/ian/Desktop/PDFs/vaney2012.pdf#page=4 — but page specification doesn’t work with Scrivener for file URIs, though I also can’t get it to work from the command line using Chrome as the PDF viewer (which should support URI modifiers)…

Perhaps Skim supports this?

Last time I checked, the file manager doesn’t take requests with parameters, and I don’t see that practice described anywhere in RFC 8089, but I might have missed something.

That aside, what I think you are referring to is very specifically a Web browser plug-in trick:

Yes, I was hoping it would be a solution to the OP’s need to be able to link to a specified part of a PDF, a feature I think other users would find useful.

I did manage to get Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer to follow the #page= trick, but not reliably and couldn’t work out if this was a bug or just user error…

Thanks, Amber and nontroppo! I’ll try out the hyperlink idea to see if that works for me.

But perhaps there was a misunderstanding somewhere: I don’t need the PDF file itself to open to a specific page of the research article, because I’ll have the page number in the footnote; I was asking about having a Document Reference point to a specific sentence in my document, and that is where I’d like to have easy access to the source article.

For instance, I write a paragraph on the theory of Romantic metaphors (Lit. major) and at the end of that paragraph in my document, I want to easily access the original source article on Romantic metaphors so that I can double check the accuracy of my quote.

Can a Document Reference in the Inspector be added at the end of my paragraph, or is a Document Reference for the document as a whole, and not connected to a specific paragraph?

If a hyperlink is the best way to do this, can that hyperlink be inserted only in the editor at the end of my paragraph, or can a hyperlink be in a Comment or Footnote or where I already have the citation info for the source?

And lastly, is there a way to open a Document Reference (PDF) in a Quick Reference window, or only in the Editor or in my PDF viewer (Preview)?

Thank you again. ~glj.

References are strictly what you see in the inspector sidebar. A list of materials that are generally useful to an item—if you come to an chunk of text and want to look up a supporting document that relates to that section of text then that’s the best tool for the job. No having to hunt through the text or comments for a cross-ref.

Yes, they can be stashed into off-page notes in the inspector, and into inline notes as well, if you need to keep the link out of the final copy. Another approach, if you don’t need live hyperlinks in the final copy, is to use the Transformations compile option pane to strip out all links—then you can freely pepper your source text with contextual links.

If you right-click on a Reference you’ll see all available options—QR not included. If you’re going to open the PDF in a separate window, wouldn’t Preview be a better host for doing so?

Thanks again, Amber! The Scriv team is the best, and I’m excited to support you when S.3 comes out. Cheers, glj.