Scrivener Support for Reference Managers (Zotero, Endnote, Mendeley, etc)

Should Scrivener be updated to support reference Managers?

  • Yes, with urgency
  • Yes, but only after more urgent updates
  • Unsure or indifferent
  • No, Scrivener is fine as it is
  • No, Scrivener should not implement this specific update

0 voters

Scrivener is great for a diversity of writers–but not those who need to regularly cite other works (i.e most report writers, most consultants, most advisers, most bureaucrats, all academics, all students, etc). Reference managers like Zotero (especially) but also Mendeley and Endnote are brilliant for any writer–in much the same way that Scrivener is brilliant for nearly any writer.

Is there a reason why Scrivener 3.0 does not support in-application processing or compiling for these reference managers? Doing so would broaden the market for Scrivener significantly, and given the multiplicity of workarounds users have applied (including me), there seem to be an abundance of durable enough solutions. It seems like there must be a sound reason for not supporting reference managers, but this is reason is elusive & not provided by Literature & Latte. The workaround using python, Pandoc, Marked2, TextWrangler & often a variety of of other external applications is more work than many users would wish to undertake.

If there is a sound reason for not supporting in-application integration/compiling with one or more reference managers, is it possible for Scrivener to at least notify their users via a FAQ or other mechanism as to why there is no such support? At most, is it possible for Scrivener to undertake such an update? It seems that a great many users have to decide whether or not they are willing (or able) to undertake a fairly complex process to code in manually a workaround between Scrivener and a reference manager.

There have been multiple discussions about reference managers and their interaction with Scrivener on the forums. The forums include a search function.

Not all writers would agree that Zotero is brilliant. Furthermore, there are many more really good reference managers, Bookends and Papers 3 to mention two, and Scrivener is better off not making a choice.
If you don’t understand why, do the forum search suggested by Devinganger.

Speaking as a (retired) academic who has written long pieces using Scrivener in combination with a bibliographic manager (Bookends, in my case) I find it intensely irritating to be told that the software I have been using for years is no good for what I am doing, and to be included, against my will, in a group that apparently has an opinion I do not agree with. Parading one’s own opinions as fact and co-opting the “views” of a large group of people who have not been consulted to support one’s own point of view is an old rhetorical trick, and not a very good one. It severely undermines your case. I keep on saying that wherever I go on wishlist forums I come across the False Consensus Effect (, and it seems I will be doomed to keep on saying it for ever. This is yet another case.

Scrivener already supports reference managers. I should know, I use them. Case closed.

Scrivener already supports interacting with leading reference managers just fine (Prefs > General > Citations). Your question is not well posed. What I think you mean, is why can’t Scrivener turn citations into a final formatted document upon compile without any other tools like Pandoc (which does this perfectly)? If so, then it is because it is a complex task that is simply not feasible for Keith to maintain alone.

But there are two potential solutions.

One requires Scrivener making some sort of plugin interface that would do the formatting during compile. Then each reference manager would need to write a plugin to do the formatting. I think this is very unlikely to happen (see the forum post on scripting support).

The second solution is to include a citeproc engine that will do the hard work in terms of handling an intermediate database, and the formatting for thousands of different journals). I have a wishlist post open for this, but at present there is no suitable citeproc engine that integrates well into Cocoa based apps like Scrivener. One is in development however a timeframe is unavailable. If a citeproc engine was included, a user would manually specify a BIB file and a CSL (style file), and citeproc would be called during compile, in theory supporting any output that Scrivener does.

If you mean you want something like Endnote’s CWYW, then this would require a very advanced scripting engine built-in to the editor itself (extremely unlikely), and would be opposed by many users like me who think it is a buggy hell of a stupid idea in the first place.

So how do you go about creating a finished mss using Endnote?

Please note that polls are discouraged in Wish List posts. While we listen to user requests, Scrivener development is not a democracy.


See Section 20.4 in the (Mac) Scrivener 3 manual. Briefly, you use Endnote to create placeholder citations and compile to RTF as normal. Then you consult Endnote’s documentation to learn how to convert those placeholders into correct citations in the format you want.


So a ‘benevolent dictatorship’? I’m fine with that. :wink:


Scrivener should support especially the open source reference manager Zotero.

Why? I have used Scr for my doctoral dissertation. It was OK having to copy-paste footnotes after generating them in Word…but then, the citations did not update as I updated or corrected some details of the references used.

Since then, I have not written in Scr. I returned to Word only because it makes it much easier to cite…no single other feature or reason, just that…and this the story of most academics and students and others whose line of work requires referring to multiple sources and works etc

Please, please, please, have scrivener support this feature. It is simply indispensable for us.

Thank you,

A cursory google search shows that Scrivener does support Zotero, and there are top-ranked videos explaining how.

Us? As in Your Highness? Or as in United States?
Whichever it is, saying “please, please, please” seems to contradict both alternatives…

I am really very disappointed in so many comments in this thread. The point of forums are for discussion, not cut-downs. The end meaning here is that the user wants to use some bibliographic software in combination with Scrivener and with these kinds of responses, you may have just driven a customer away from Literature and Latte.

I have trouble using Zotero, myself and that is how I landed here. Not one comment is helpful. Ironically, this is the first topic in the search that I decided to read. Not a great first impression at all.

Taking offense so easily and replying with sarcasm or nit-picking about “us” is completely uncalled for and unnecessary.

1 Like

Not one? Not even the one pointing you to the manual page on how to use placeholder citations with Endnote?

Sadly, no. I cannot afford EndNote, hence my use of Zotero. I fully understand that it may be worth the purchase, but when you don’t have the money, you simply don’t have the money.

I have been using Scrivener for years and I did read the manual (though I don’t use Mac, so Scrivener 3 is out). I do understand Scrivener’s use for footers and end notes but it’s just the time it takes. My point was that at present there is no integration, nor plugin that will continue to update links to citations, numbering and so on, unless I have missed something, which is why I was here, That said, sometimes automation is a bad thing and creates errors and I am a stickler for accuracy. It may work out for the best, in the end.

Thank you though for responding and attempting to remedy the situation. One day it will all come together and hope is always a good thing.

When I wrote my PhD thesis (85,000 words) I used Scrivener 2 for Mac and Bookends, using temporary citations. I then compiled to RTF and scanned the file to insert the in-text citations and create the bibliography. The last phase took about five minutes. I’d recommend looking at Zotero’s support page (if you haven’t already). It’s at I’m not criticising if I say that I think people get a bit seduced by the idea that there needs to be a plug-in. Temporary citations and RTF scan work fine in my experience (I also wrote a 560 page book using that method, with Word 5 and Endnote – on a PowerBook 180 with floppy discs as storage). It might turn out to be easier than you think. And you could at least try it with a short piece to see how it works. Best of luck with it.

Note that Scrivener is tool-agnostic. You can use any reference manager that works like Endnote does: any manager that lets you insert placeholder citations in the RTF file and replace them with real citations later. For that matter, you can even roll your own with custom replacements for placeholders you create. Scrivener doesn’t care.


It looks to me that you are a windows user: in which case, there is a way to get Zotero and Scrivener to work together. Not going to lie, it takes a bit of trial and error but to me it is worth the effort, as it allows you, after scanning your document, to have live citations AND gives you access to the zotero picker so you don’t have to drag and drop.

See my github page for details:

Not an ideal solution as it relies on 2 zotero plugins, a powershell script and using libreoffice as a middle man, but it gets the job done

Would like to vote “support for reference Manager, urgently” (preferred Zotero for mac), but the above formular does not work.

I understood the meaning of the most comments in this thread, But i’m not native english. So please excuse, if some pros and cons are already figured out.

I am not a writer, i am a marketer. Choosed Scrivener 3 to write guidelines for daily routines within a marketing and communications department. The idea is to sort out countless tasks in marketing and communications and bring them into order, Instead of running around like headless chickens day by day. Therefore i collected a lot of literature in zotero. To get the best out of the mass of informations within all these pdf-files. I searched for a good workflow for a long time, E. g. how to link my written guidelines to original notes and literature.

The descriptions in this posts “Support for Reference Managers” are workarounds, but no solution for a writing app. Scrivener is a really good tool for writing, but in my opinion a reference manager integration ist a must have. Especially, if Scrivener wants to be taken as one of the serious taken “players” in the market of writing tools.

Kind regards


You might want to have a look at the testimonials page on the site:

Looks pretty serious to me.