Scrivener for Philosophy Dissertation Needs

Hello friends,

I hope you all are well. So I’m a new Scrivener user whose been exploring its features.
I am a current PhD Candidate in Middle East Studies and Philosophy who is looking to transition my writing platform from Microsoft Word to Scrivener.
I am a very experienced Microsoft Word and Apple Pages user, but this is what I’m looking for:

I have Scrivener 3 installed on my iMac and Macbook Air.
I am beginning to use Zotero for bibliographical purposes (Chicago Style, latest)
I deal with a lot of transliterations from Greek, Arabic, and sometimes Hebrew, and therefore diacritics. For example: wisdom (ḥikma/ḥokma)
I use a lot of block quotes and 2-3 styles.
I have a lot of shortcuts and autocorrects setup in Word that I am looking to setup in Scrivener.

Basically, I am looking to be able to organize all the pdfs I need for my dissertation/research work, write out my ch’s with footnotes (long and short), and push out fully formatted chapters from Scrivener with almost no problem. I know I am asking a lot, but can someone here help? Feel free to message me directly or whatever works best. Thank you,

Without knowing the details of your requirements, it’s difficult to give guarantees but in principle there’s nothing in that list which Scrivener can’t do. (Bear in mind that I don’t use Arabic so can’t advise on that – I have used Greek and Russian though and diacritics aren’t a problem because Scrivener will use the same Mac Keyboard Layout that you use elsewhere.)

But there is one thing to bear in mind: Scrivener is capable of producing the final output in many formats, but if your needs are complex then it is expected that you do the final polishing in a specialist program. Scrivener can’t possibly cater for every conceivable layout…

E.g. if you want to write a novel and send it a publisher in standard manuscript format, then publish it to Kindle/ePub, then it will take you all the way. But if you want to have fine control over a complex non-standard layout, then you can expect to do some post-processing (in Latex, Indesign or Word for example).

Whether or not your needs are that complex depends on what they are, but it’s reasonable to suppose that you’ll want to compile the output to docx and do some final polishing in Word. The compilation process should translate all your styles to Word styles, and deal with your footnotes – but footnotes can get very complex, so you may have some tidying up to do.

Basically, Scrivener’s strengths are in the preparation of your content, not its final appearance, beyond a certain level of complexity.

So the obvious advice is to download the trial, familiarise yourself with the Interactive Tutorial (this is essential if you want to avoid needless confusion in the first few days), then try compiling a sample chapter and see where you get. There are plenty of academics on this forum who can give your detailed advice if you need it.


This is a bit dated but I would suggest you forget Zotero. Unless a lot of things have changed, working with Zotero was a nightmare. Instead go for Bookends it works seamlessly with Scrivener.