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

Martin, this is just another example of, “Scrivener doesn’t do/work exactly how I want so it can’t be considered serious software/is going to fail commercially”.



Edit: By the way, I looked to see if there was a “significant” number of votes along the lines of the previous poster. Actually, unless they have been deleted, no votes at all have been cast in the poll.

Quite right, Mark, But the psychologist in me continues to be fascinated by how often the False Consensus Effect crops up, and I suppose I have a totally irrational hope that if I point it out enough times, awareness of it might spread. But since it is a cognitive bias, this is not really going to change anything much.


PS: polls have always been discouraged on the forums because, as Keith has often said, Scrivener is not software by committee.

Mmm, about polls, but as the OP had set one up—even though KB won’t take any notice of them—I thought it might be interesting to see how much support this had got. However, at a glance, there are four people who have followed the OP in this, including the latest poster, which given the thousands of Scrivener users, among whom there are very many serious academics.

Another interesting point was the poster who said that Zotero is superior to Bookends because it lists more sources. Surely, what matters is that it lists the sources that you need, not how many it has. Given how responsive Jon at Sonny Software seems to be, I’m sure if there’s a major source not listed by Bookends, he would look to include it.

It makes me think of Eric Beaty’s post in “To compile or not to compile”
where he raises the perception that Scrivener should be an “all-in-one writing tool”.



First of all, i pointed clearly out Scrivener is a very good writing tool. After that I wrote it is ‘my opinion’, nothing more. The description what’re i am using Scrivener was just to give the developers a feedback. The information i gave about the mass of literature was just to point out, working with placeholders would be a lot of work. Doing every step in referencing twice.

For me it is not about who is right, that’s a bit like kindergarden, don’t you agree? Every single user has his point of view. A developer might collect the feedback to weight the needs und to plan the next step. You two guys are not very polity, but that’s your problem not mine. I did not ask you guys for your opinion about my post.

However, have fun. :wink:

Another thing is that current ”reference managers” aren’t reference managers.

They are document handlers combined with a search facility to enable search for scientific literature from within the same software. They are basically all built to help researchers search for, read, annotate and organize scientific articles.

When reference managers emerged we still printed and read articles on paper and the software was used to keep track of what you had and to format reference lists because all journals had different formats. Today all major scientific journals accept any format as long as it’s consistent, and fix the details themselves.

Thanks for reply. If 90% of Scrivener users are book writers i am sure you are right. But if e. g. 30 percent are students and another 20 percent are no academics and no book writers, it could be worth it to have a closer look at their workarounds, needs and pain points.

If you are writing large contents for other reasons than printing a book (for example generating digital sources like pdf or any kind of online content, guidelines within a company etc.) Scrivener is still a great choice. Offering a very good overview, even if you are working with endless contents. The more all the content stays sortable by simply drag and drop it.

In my special case (non-book writing) easy referencing would be extremely helpful in two ways.
1.) Importing notes from sources/mainly pdf and writting summaries within Scrivener. Finding the original sources during writing as fast as possible. Writing is a non-linear process. Stepping back and forth countless times. Check with original sources etc. So the process is very similar to academic writing, even in a non-academic matter.
2.) As soon as the written texts come to use, in my case again, it is very helpful too being able to find the original sources as soon as you need to dig deeper in a special theme.

Yes, and for the very same reason I wouldn’t want that in Scrivener. It’s usually a separate process from the writing. My annotationS might end up in Scapple, not Scrivener. Or in Cmap. Or nowhere.

Scrivener is designed with a rather special idea at its core: long-form writing. I actually hope Keith doesn’t add a lot of more functions. Refining what’s already in there, yes. But Not completely new stuff.

OK, I understand your points. Thanks again for your answer.

Seriously, who hurt you in the past? I meant to say we need integration for those of us who are doing research. We deal with a lot of sources (I had a 200+ in one document at some point). And I had to return to Word just so I could insert those sources and change them - it took forever. And now, I no longer use scrivener for research. Not useful. It has become a note taking app that keep crashing. I suppose fiction writers and journalists don’t need it.

No we don’t.
I have been using Scrivener for all my scientific writing since 2014 and haven’t seen any reason to have an integrated reference handler inside Scrivener. I use my literature handler to search for, organize, read and annotate the scientific articles I read. Most of the time that process is completely separate from writing, just like the statistical analyses are done in a separate software and the final figures to be published are produced by yet another software.

When you use temporary citations in Scrivener, you can easily automate your route back to that reference with 3rd party software. It is as easy as double-clicking an {ID} in Scrivener and hitting a hotkey, et voila. We [plural] do use Scrivener for academic writing alongside reference managers and hundreds of citations and are completely happy with our workflow. I search, cite, research, link, reference, read and format. I use Scrivener for writing, OPML if I want info explicitly in Scrivener, but mostly just use ID links back to Bookends, a program which was built from the ground up to excel at managing my research references and searching for related knowledge.

KB has asked many times what exactly people want, and there is never a clear answer (or a multiplicity of non-compatible ones). Some people want a complete reference manager fully functional as part of Scrivener, which is really a route to disaster (jack of all trades, master of none); I doubt would ever happen and several of us have strong opinions against this. Others want cite-while-you-write as they are used to in Word+Endnote (which whenever I’ve had to use in in collaboration has been buggy and klunky as hell), which is also likely to be a development quagmire for KB. Others want Zotero treated in some special way, though it isn’t clear exactly what that is, and it isn’t clear Zotero won’t change along the way (big changes are needed for upcoming versions) rendering any special support moot.

This thread will nevertheless rumble on…

If Scrivener is crashing routinely, please open a support ticket, here:

FWIW, being forced to use Word for a project large enough to have 200 sources would cause me to seriously consider changing careers. Whatever advantages it might have for citations are overwhelmed by its awfulness elsewhere.


That’s essential to those who use Scrivener for academic work. An integration with Mendeley would be fantastic!

I’ve been using Scrivener for academic work since about 2006 (see my earlier post), and I’ve never had any real problem with the existing functionality (footnoting was not ideal back in the early days, but it is fine now, for my needs). Those who are hoping for a plug-in of the kind that you can find in MS Word can probably stop hoping, because I get the impression it is not going to happen. I’m not a programmer, but this seems to be one of those things that look simple to those who are not programmers, but turn out to be technically hard or impossible to achieve. I find nothing wrong with the existing solution of temporary citations and scanning of the finished document. It has always worked well for me.

I’ve been using Scrivener for academic work since around 2008 and will admit that citations and footnoting back them was far from one of its strengths. I got round it by pasting formatted citations - from Bookends - within the body text and then after compilation used a couple of Nisus macros to clean up the text and put the footnotes in their proper place. Clunky, but it worked and I used that system until Scriv Mac V3, when I found thatusing temporary citations and scanning the finished document was much easier and more reliable than in the past…

I don’t believe that for most users it’s really a problem.

For Mac users unless you are forced to use Word, Nisus writer is worth a look. Its macro language is extremely good and there are some very helpful guys on the Nisus forum. It uses RTF as the default format, so it makes an ideal companion to Scriv.

As someone who is a potential customer for Scrivener, the only thing putting me off is the lack of plugins for reference management software programs like Zotero. The writing I do is mostly academic in nature & while I know there are clunky workarounds, I won’t be shelling out for Scrivener while other programs offer that all-important integration. I also know many other academic friends who have also stayed off the Scrivener ship for this reason alone, so it seems pretty clear that there is a serious market for this. If you just have a look online you’ll also see countless other people posting about the same thing. Am I right in thinking there are absolutely no plans to develop this? If so I’ll be sure not to bother checking Scrivener for updates & will inform others on Twitter etc. of the same.

Really? I haven’t seen that, and I am also an academic writer. But then again, I’m happy with the “workarounds”, as you call them.

Yes, that’s what the developer has said. No plans for that.
Why? Because he asked if anyone could describe exactly what they want, and so far no one has answered. Maybe you can explain it? Exactly how do you want it to work? Click by click?

I’m afraid this is yet another example of the False Consensus Effect:

Another academic writer here very happy with Scrivener ways of working now for citations and footnotes. I don’t regard any of it as a kludge or clunky. The complaints unaccompanied by concrete proposals is beginning to sound like the ERG.

It’s very strange that you jump to that every time another person says that the lack of reference management integration is losing Scrivener interest. Did you do a search online as I suggested? Given your response was immediate, it indicates that you did not.

  1. This is the number 1 wishlist suggestion on Scrivener’s iown website. It has >15,000 views.
  2. Additionally, there are countless requests for this on Zotero’s website as well as the other reference managers. For example, see the number of respondents to this= thread, or this= one, or this one.
  3. Universities, in their guides to students, will regularly answer negatively in their 'FAQ’s on the integration of Scrivener and reference managers. Seehere=,are%20a%20number%20of%20workarounds.&text=Manually%20type%20footnotes%20and%20citations,or%20the%20compiled%20Word%20document. for the example at Cornell University.
  4. Countless times when there’s a question on Twitter or other social media about using Scrivener for academic writing, academics will point out the lack of reference integration. For example, see here=, and here=, and here=, and here=, etc. etc.