Scrivener for researchers

Hello Scrivener community!

First of all, I would like to thank the developers working on the Scrivener project for creating an interesting and unique platform! My perception until now is that Scrivener seems as an ideal tool that is able to boost productivity and efficiency, especially for researchers in academia that usually work with long manuscripts and ideas!
For two weeks, I’m learning and experimenting with this highly versatile product so as to fully migrate all my writings into Scrivener.
However, there exist some crucial points that keeping me from purchasing the Windows and Mac bundle:

1. MacOS and Windows OS communication: I have noticed that current versions of Scrivener for MacOS (3.0.1) and Windows ( are not compatible with each other, i.e. I cannot open a scrivener file in Windows that is created in MacOS and uploaded in OneDrive. Is this a bug?

  1. Equations[/b]: if I am getting it right, the only way of writing equations in a Scrivener manuscript is to buy a MathType license and link it with Scrivener, but this is a commercial product. So, is there any other free alternative to that?
  2. Mendeley and Scrivener[/b]: is there any straight-forward way of importing Mendeley references into Scrivener?
  3. Latex and Scrivener[/b]: searching for efficient routines to follow when working in Scrivener, I get that a standard workflow is to create a manuscript in Scrivener and then export it to .tex for further formatting in a Latex editor. Is there any manual for that process so as to avoid back and forth?
  4. Automated lists of tables/figures/references[/b]: an automated process that will produce a document listing all tables/figures/references residing in a Scrivener project will be a time-saver capability!
  5. Sharing Scrivener templates[/b]: I think that creating a place where users can upload/download Scrivener templates that they have created would be amazing! For example, I would really like to find a Scrivener template for a Master or PhD thesis in Mathematics/Physics/… or other fields of research.

I would really appreciate any thoughts/suggestions/workarounds to solve these mysteries and get back to Scrivening!!
Thanks again for your great effort!

Some background info: PhD researcher and cross-OS user (Windows and Mac)

Hi, and welcome to the forum!
No, it’s not a bug. The Mac version 3 was released late last year and a version 3 for Windows is said to hopefully be released by the end of this year (but don’t be surprised if it takes a bit longer). However, you can download Mac version 2.9 which is compatible with the latest official Windows version 1.9.7. There is also a beta version of Windows version 3 available, for the more adventurous writer. On top of that the Mac version 3 can export in the old version 2 format if you need to collaborate with Windows 1.9.7 users. So there are a number of options.

OneDrive? Oh oh… you don’t want to use OneDrive with Scrivener. So far only Dropbox and under some circumstances iCloud Drive are the only cloud services recommended to be used with Scrivener, due to the complex file structure. A Scrivener filename.scriv project is not a file, it’s a folder. On a Mac it is presented as a package which looks like a file because one doesn’t want the users to interfere with the individual files in the project, but it is a folder.

For the rest of the questions you will probably get answers from others. I don’t use Mendeley or Latex. Papers 3 for references and no MMD at all.

(Greetings from a fellow academic)

Thank you Lunk for your helpful suggestion!
I am glad to see a colleague in the forum!
Since I’m newbie and open to recommendations, would you mind sharing your standard workflow when using Scrivener for academic purposes (lecture notes, papers, etc…)?
Thanks again!

I don’t understand why you think you need MathType if you’re using LaTeX. MultiMarkdown will push the LaTeX equations over and raw LaTeX can be commented out using .... for MMD6 and HTML comments for earlier versions of MMD.

I use Scrivener for writing, not for lecture notes or a lot of other stuff. I use a variety of apps on both my Mac:s and my iPad:s for planning and preparing lectures (Drafts, iThoughts, Indexcard+, Keynote, …), toying with new ideas for research projects (Scapple, 2Do, Papers by 53, …), use Papers 3 for searching, reading and annotating scientific articles, collect bits and pieces of anything in Evernote, do statistics in Wizard and Excel, etc.

I have never really liked the idea of a single workflow, of a planned approach to life, or research. That’s one of the reasons I like to write in Scrivener: I can jump back and forth and don’t have to care about the sequential order of traditional programs like Word or Pages.
(but I do use both Word and Pages though, for some things)

Thank you Lunk for sharing your toolkit!
Happy researching!!

Thanks for your suggestion Liz!
I suppose that using Scrivener and Latex together is the scheme that fits me best.
Is there any guide with examples on how to use them in parallel?
For example, what is the standard notation for writing equations/tables/figures/references in a Scrivener project and then recognised once compiled in a Latex editor?
Thanks again!


I’m honestly extremely surprised that someone would use such language to express an opinion about a computer software. I can’t see what religion has to do with Scrivener. :open_mouth:


You’ve probably notices that there’s an “MMD to LaTeX” option in the Compile window. There’s a ton of info on this forum about using MMD with LaTeX and a number of ways to do it–you need to figure out what works for you. User nontroppo, for example, likes using pandoc, but I find that this is more steps than necessary.

I use MMD to do all the text formatting, section formatting, and image/figure handling, (I don’t use tables, so I can’t say whether MMD syntax for that is sufficient for academic purposes.) I use replacements with my own shorthand syntax for theorem environments, and for mathematics I use LaTeX syntax, but I prefer to use the unicode-math package so that I can use math symbol literals instead of LaTeX markup. This is discussed some here:
[url]Different kinds of annotations with colours]

The big disadvantage is that once you’ve exported your Scrivener project to LaTeX there’s no automatic way to get any edits in the LaTeX file back to Scrivener. But Scrivener is so much better than any LaTeX editor on the market that it’s worth the hassle.

The fact that existing bibliography apps are expensive is your clue. That usually indicates that the functionality is both difficult to provide and only needed by a relatively small number of people. More extensive bibliography integration in Scrivener would require a significant development and support effort – multiplied by each supported program – for a relatively small benefit to our users.


I completely get this–it would be a small benefit to most Scrivener users, and maybe even a great majority of them, but better bib handling and better research handling in general would be invaluable to academic users. The Scrivener team unfortunately made software which is so good that it is useful for applications outside its original intended purpose. Maybe in some magical unicorn future someone could write a “Scrivener for academics” plugin which would address these gaps.

Are you implying that getting academics to settle on a single standard is difficult? NO!

Next on the news – water is wet! Film at 11.

People have already mentioned the MMD to LaTeX route, but it is important to point out that MMD can also output maths to Word and HTML just as easily via Pandoc, which is a supported compile option in Scrivener 3. Pandoc handles maths much more robustly, and e.g. converts TeX maths to the native DOCX maths notation etc. This means with the SAME document in Scrivener, you could output your work for final typesetting in LaTeX if you need, and a Word document if you have a tutor that wants an editable file to work with.

I’ve said it before on this forum, but I believe that Scrivener is a superb tool for academic writing as is. There are many other academics who are heavy users, and employ one of the many Scrivener + [bibliography app of choice] workflows that have been posted on the forums. If I were absolutely in need of a biblio manager, that’s the route I’d go down. Personally I do without one.

Hello again!!
After some time searching several resources, both in forum and elsewhere, I conclude that the simplest workflow for a novice user of both Scrivener and Latex is:

  • write in Scrivener
  • compile for Latex (MultiMarkdawon -> Latex (.tex))
  • final format and compile in a Tex Editor (mine favourite TexShop)

So, I created a new Project Format (from File->Compile-> gear button->…) and now I am in the process of editing all regular preferences (i.e. Latex packages etc.) that I usually need for a research paper in the “Latex Options” tab.
Since, I am more familiar with Latex commands for sectioning, equations, tables I thought that writing Latex commands such as \section{Introduction} inside my Scrivener project would be easier to compile the document in TexShop, but it seems that I am missing some parts of the equations.
When I do follow this workflow I get back 4 .tex files:

  • Name_of_project.tex: is the main body of my document
  • mmd-scrivcustom-header.tex: including all the information that I have typed in the “Header” from “Latex Options” tab such as Latex packages, \title{…}, \author{…} etc.
  • mmd-scrivcustom-begin-doc.tex: including Latex commands that I have inserted in the “Begin Document” such as \begin{document}, \maketitle
  • mmd-scrivcustom-footer.tex: including Latex commands that I have inserted in the “Footer” to load my bibliography that is stored as a .bib file \bibliography{my_biblio} and the \end{document} command.

However when compiling the project and open the main .tex file I get the following issues:

  1. Sectioning: using raw Latex commands (i.e. \section{Introduction}) for sectioning I get back \textbackslash{}section{Introduction} in the .tex file, which is something that does not be recognised by the TexShop as a proper way of sectioning.
  2. Quotation marks: wherever I have inserted either single or double quotation marks in Scrivener, they are not recognised in the .tex file.
  3. Labels for figures and tables: is there a Latex-friendly way of labelling figures and tables in Scrivener and exported in the .tex file?
  4. Equations: how should I write my in-line or numbered equations in Scrivener, so as to be recognised by the TexShop?
  5. Automatically numbered figures and tables: is there an easy way of annotating numbered figures and tables?
  6. Citation keys: I have not tried to rename all references in the document using the \cite{citation_key} command, but I suppose I would get the \textbackslash issue.
  7. Footnotes: I have not tried them yet, but I will definitely need them!

I suppose that most of those issues may be resolved if I make some adjustments in the “Replacement” tab, but I am not quite sure what kind of replacements should I make. As you may get, I am trying to make Scrivener more Latex-friendly so as to make the final adjustments in my Tex editor.
I have read that many users prefer Pandoc for exporting and formatting but this route is rather sophisticated for my level of understanding, So any advice (or even better a suggestion for a step-wise user manual, videos, photos etc) that is more close to the Latex philosophy is highly appreciated!!
Thanks again!


I’ve taken another approach; rather than struggling with the export features of Scrivener, I evaluate the .scriv directory directly, and compile my LaTeX content from there.

You may want to look at TeXDown:

Here I’ve done a video about my larger workflow:

One workaround that I’ve been using is to use Zotero as my citation manager. I keep a ‘citations’ folder in my Scrivener file and when I cite a paper, I simply go into Zotero, right click on the paper and copy the citation to the clipboard and insert it in my ‘citation’ folder in Scrivener. A manual system at best, but it seems to work - at least for me at this time.

I do wish that Scrivener would be integrated with Zotero. I’m not overly enthusiastic about Bookends.