Storing references: binder vs. references

I’m an academic new to Scrivener and wondering about the best way to link references. I have stacks of pdfs, and other references for each paper. Is it better to store them as references in the Inspector or in the “binder” section under research? Thanks.

Edit: I used BBCode markup to make a list, but it’s not working at the moment. I’m too lazy to edit it out though. Hope it’s not too hard for you to read.

There are lots of pros and cons, depending on your needs.

Document references:

  1. Document references are a little out of the way, which keeps your binder uncluttered, and lets you link specific sections of your work to the relevant references.
  2. They’re often out of sight, and so can be “out of mind” fairly easily
  3. You can note what page/paragraph is relevant in a reference in the name of that reference.
  4. They don’t add to the bulk of the project file (they’re just links to internal or external sources.
  5. Updates to the original source will obviate any worry about the data being stale
  6. Updates to the original source can change or obliterate what you were originally referencing.
  7. Scrivener-based searches (as opposed to using Spotlight searches) will definitely not turn up anything contained within these external references.

Importing into the binder:

  1. Creates a copy of the source document, so updates, moves, and deletions of the original don’t affect your project reference.
  2. Large pdfs (or large numbers of them) can make backups and copies of a project less practical if space or copy time is a factor (like when using with Dropbox and other cloud solutions)
  3. Annotation often has to be done in an external editor, since Scrivener’s PDF viewing capabilities are fairly limited (but a button for editing in external editors is easy to get to)
  4. All of your research is visible in the binder, organized however you like and separate from any other documents that you may add, split, or delete.
  5. Scrivener-based searches may or may not (I’d have to experiment to find out) work with imported PDF documents (but definitely not if the pdfs are just image scans).

What I’ve said about PDFs applies equally to webarchives. Word documents and a few other word processing document types will be converted to scrivener text documents automatically, and so will be completely searchable if you import them. Spreadsheets, images, and other unsupported document types will not be searchable, and some will not be viewable within the Scrivener interface (but will open in their default application when you choose to do so).

Hope that helps.

Thanks, very helpful.

One other advantage to importing into Scrivener’s binder: you gain all the metadata associated with a file in Scrivener. That includes Synopsis card, Document Notes, keywords, references (useful to note where you found the document), Status, and Labels. If you import text that gets converted to a scrivener document, you also get snapshots (for comparing updated information), inspector comments, inline annotations, and footnotes.