Support for bibliographic software?


Thanks very much for a fantastic piece of software. I’ve been recommending it to many fellow academics in the past couple of weeks.

Yet there’s one feature that really seems missing, as I’m sure others will have pointed out: why can’t we have integrated support for software such as Zotero or EndNote? I understand the ‘first draft simplicity’ concept, but it really is quite time consuming to add the references manually in Scrivener and then delete them and add them through the bibliographic software when polishing up the .rtf version (as you know, M$ Word and similar word-processors support Zotero and EndNote integration).

Many thanks again!


I couldn’t stand EndNote any longer, so I switched to Bookends, but I think the procedures are similar. When I want to insert a reference in a Scrivener document I just key in Cmd-Shift-y, which takes me to Bookends (it launches it if it is not already running), find the reference I want, hit Cmd-y to copy the reference, Cmd-Tab to go back to Scrivener and Cmd-v to paste the reference in. It appears in the format {Author, Year, Title}, but that format can be altered in Bookends if needed. EndNote would probably insert {Author, Year, Unique ID No.} as it usually uses the Unique ID in its temporary citations. When I have finished the paper I export it as an RTF or Word document, then scan the paper from Bookends, which changes the format of the temporary citations to whatever I have chosen (usually APA 5 in my case) and appends a list of references, once again in the chosen format. I don’t find that any “manual” work is needed. You need to specify the bibliographic application you use in the Scrivener preferences. Never really used Zotero, so I don’t know how it would work with that.

Best wishes,

Martin BB.

Martin is on to something there. You are definitely jumping through some unnecessary hoops.


This seems a bit longwinded. If you link Bookends to Scrivener, then pressing Cmd-Y in Bookends switches to Scrivener and inserts the citation at the cursor position, all in one go. So the workflow is:

  1. writing in Scrivener, need to insert citation, so press Cmd-Y to switch to Bookends
  2. find and select reference in Bookends
  3. press Cmd-Y again. You are returned to where you were in Scrivener, with the citation pasted in

The trick is to tell Bookends that you are working in Scrivener so that it knows which application to put the citation in. You can do that either in Bookends’ preferences, on the ‘General’ tab, at the top; or in the File menu, using the Link To… command. This latter method is to override the preference setting in the short term. For example, in Bookends preferences I leave Bookends linked to Mellel, my main word processor, and when I work in Scrivener I use the File> Link To… command to let Bookends know that I want the citations in Scrivener for the moment.

Many thanks for that tip – I wasn’t aware of it. I have Bookends preferences set up to use M$ Word as my main WP (I know, I’m trying to get rid of it, but I haven’t got time to learn Mellel, though I have a copy). But our original poster is using EndNote, which I haven’t used for a while, and I’m not sure if he can switch applications and paste in one go using Cmd-y from EndNote. I think the longer winded procedure should work, though.

Best wishes,


Endnote does not have a corresponding customizable cmd-shift-Y function (it has a Word-specific function of this sort), but it does provide a universal Service called Insert Citation which can be pressed into service here.

So, a quick-step process could go like this:

  1. Cmd-Tab to flip to Endnote.
  2. Pick there one or more citations.
  3. Cmd-Tab back to Scriv.
  4. Keystroke to invoke the Insert Citation service.
    Endnote will paste the desired temporary cites at the insertion point in Scriv.

To make this work well, you need to assign a key command to the Insert Citation service menu item. So, for example, go into Sys Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts, and add a shortcut for the application Scrivener for the menu item Insert Citation, and with the key combo of your choice (e.g., cmd-option-Y).


Thank you for all of these responses. I think I understand the workflow for using Scrivener with a biblio program. I was beginning to question my use of Scriv because I couldn’t see going back to how I’d written a decade ago; I couldn’t imagine writing without Endnote. I converted to a Mac only last month with the urging of my husband/co-author, mostly in order to use Scriv. I was about to buy Endnote for Mac and then decide if I could continue with Scriv. Reading these posts led me to buy Bookends as a biblio app. I have put in preferences and “link tos” as suggested to coordinate Scriv and Bookends. When we have a satisfactory draft and need to do our final coordination of revisions, I’ll move our writing to Pages, scan the doc with Bookends, and proceed from there. These posts are SO useful to me. :smiley:

I find I learn a great deal from these forums. There are some very knowledgeable and helpful people contributing to them.

Best wishes,

Martin BB.

These are very helpful boards, frequented by knowledgeable and friendly posters. This thread could not have better timing for me.

I’m in a transitional time, about to begin a major research/writing project (dissertation). I am about to purchase Scrivener, after using it successfully several times on recent small projects.

Here’s the challenge: I have limited funds (about $100) to spend on software to help my academic work. I get the academic discount.

Scrivener is definitely on the list.

In addition, I’m trying to decide between a reference manager (Bookends/Sente), possibly adding Mellel (w/the B’ends bundle), and a note-taking, organizational tool (either DT Pro, Notebook, or possibly even Curio (if it won’t slow my aging maching down too much…)).

I had just about convinced myself to purchase Bookends. The trial has gone well, and the comfort of having a stand-alone application appealed to me, as well as the ease of integration with Scriv. However, after having upgraded my ibook G4 to leopard (which went surprisingly well!), Firefox now runs much better on my machine and I’ve given Zotero another look. The ease with which I can pull references really appeals to me and I may want to go that route after all, since saving the $70 would alllow me to get Scriv. and DTPro or something similar.

Here are my questions: what will I miss by going with Zotero over Bookends or Sente? Any suggestions regarding the other apps.

My primary needs are:

– a place for notetaking and storage of random data in a way that is easily accessible and easily brought into other applications
–Something intuitive and enjoyable enough that I can and will use quickly without a ton of upfront investment

If I could hire my own research assistant, I’d have them scan or type all the notes I’m trying to organize from the last decade of studying. I think in the long run, as I do some of this, DTPro is my option, but I’m not going to have a ton of time to play with it.

Thanks for your help.

Many of those developers offer educational discounts.
But check also with your school’s IT department.
They may have licensing deals that will save you much.
EndNote, for example is only $10 annually for a campus license.
Also, you may need to prioritize your purchases.
Of the pieces you mention, I’d rank them in this order

  1. Scrivener
  2. A reference manager. (I prefer Endnote)
  3. A word processor (OpenOffice is free)
  4. Note taker (DevonNote or DT Pro)

Scrivener IS a note-taker. So you could postpone buying #4.
Good luck on the dissertation.

For a note taker, check out Evernote. It stores in the cloud so you can use it on iPHones and any computer. It gives you an amazing amount of storage without paying anything. You’ll find on other message threads here good directions for using it with Scrivener (not automatically, but not onerously). It has great capabilty to capture web pages and store them with tags and in topic specific online notebooks. (A scanner makes it even more useful for ccollecting research.)

“Major project” probably means different things to different people (for my mother it meant doing the weekly washing, but she was always given to hyperbole) but I assume you mean something like a three-year piece of research. For me, such a project means gathering anything from three to six hundred references, documents, maps, etc., from a variety of sources (archives, the internet, libraries, and so forth), for a piece of writing that may be 100,000 words in length. And in the end, for me at least, it always comes down to a problem of organising the material. Finding and gathering is only a first step. Making sense out of what I have gathered is far more important (at least, that is my view) so I would suggest you probably need software that is going to help you with that. (In the past I just used to sit in a chair surrounded by pieces of paper, which I tried to arrange in a sensible order.) After hearing people talk about Devonthink, I have only just begun to use it, but I’m already beginning to feel that I will never be able to do without it again. It integrates very well with Bookends and Scrivener, and I have found it very helpful in bringing some order to my research material. I would recommend giving it a try. As I said, for me it is organising the material that is crucial, and I don’t think Evernote (which I also use) is really designed for that. But it may depend on how much material you intend to gather, and how heterogeneous it is. I’m not sure how well one could integrate Zotero with Devonthink, but I know that Bookends will co-operate with it fairly well. (My method is to let Bookends handle PDFs downloaded from the internet, keeping them in its own Attachments folder, and get Devonthink to index them without importing them. I then drag any attachments I need to refer to from the Finder to the References pane in Scrivener (instead of importing them). Items from Devonthink can also be dragged in the same way, and to view them in Scrivener is easy – you just drag them from the References pane to the title bar.)

Sorry if this is a bit long-winded, and, of course, it might not be a suitable workflow for your subject matter, but I hope it gives you an idea of how things can be done. Broadly speaking, my recommendation for a really major project would be Devonthink, Bookends, and Scrivener. I think the word-processor is a little less important, because in effect it will only be used for formatting the output. It does depend on how large the project is, but I would give that a try.

If I haven’t made something clear, I will try to elucidate.

Best of luck,

Martin BB.

Based on what you say, Zotero should be more than enough. What is your field?

I’ve never gotten around to making DevonThink work for me, so my own very personal sense is that if you don’t have time to play with it… forget it. Zotero + Scrivener, again depending on the kind of work you do, should work fine. I work in literature and cinema studies.

What you “lose” with Zotero is that at the moment, it’s harder to customize citation styles. I don’t care about this since the styles I use–Chicago footnotes and MLA–work much better in Zotero out of the box. I don’t want to have to fuss with the styles (and I’ve never understood why Bookends sand Sente doesn’t have complete and perfectly working citation styles for such common styles…) Zotero also doesn’t integrate with Mellel like Sente or Bookends. You can use a cite while you write-style plug in with open office or Word or the rtf scan (as I do, since I write in Scrivener…). This is for adding citations, for notes: you can attach notes, as you probably know.

Zotero also syncs between computers–not the pdfs and docs in storage (unless you set it up to work on a WebDAV server or something like that)–but the citations and NOTES (!).

As for intuitive, Zotero has it: can you click the little icon? Presto, you’ve downloaded the pdf and metadata.

That exaggerates the difficulty of working with DT.
Here’s what you do.
Drag items into the left-hand frame.
Organize into folders and subfolders as needed.
Run a search.
Find amazing unexpected connections.
The rest is up to imagination, a little experimenting,
And possibly reading the manual.
If you’re setting out to be a scholar-critic,
the database grows more valuable with each passing year.

What druid said. At the most basic level, DevonThink requires no knowledge at all: dump stuff in, use the search to find it later. As the database grows, the usefulness of the other features becomes more obvious.


I just wanted to point out that cmd-Y also works with Sente, and has for some time. Select one or more references in Sente, press cmd-Y and, if Scrivener is running, control will switch to it and the citation tags will be pasted at the insertion point.


DISCLOSURE: I am with Third Street Software, the maker of Sente.

Thats as well may well be, but you are now, first and foremost, a member of the crew of the Good Ship Scrivener! A truly motley crew of ner do`ells, no hopers and miscreants. Your social standing has plummeted. Your only hope of redemption, is: to creep, remorselessly, to our omnipotent master, Grumpy Blounty.
Take care
PS: Welcome aboard Michael

Thanks to all who replied.

Things have gotten much busier now as the term has started. I’m teaching two first-year level undergraduate courses while preparing for my last comprehensive exam in October (including an oral exam over my prospectus) before I begin serious research and writing of a dissertation in theology and American studies.

I have looked at the checklist on the Devon website, but it’s still hard for me to tell how much I will miss if I just purchase DevonNote rather than save up and get DTPro. Can anyone explain more about the differences in less technical language?

I’ve set up an Evernote account, and it seems like it will really help me keep my inbox clear of all the articles, etc. I’m sent and don’t know where to put at the moment. I worry, however, that Evernote will only be as good as my tagging system, and I’ve never been one to do the up-front work to create my own taxonomy–or, I tend to get bogged down playing with the system and never reading and writing about things to put in the system… It seems that DT is much more suited for my more intuitive style of making connections. Does that sound right?

I’ve been experimenting with using Scrivener for lesson-planning. I find there’s something soothing about the corkboard and the way a compiled draft looks (with asterisks as “scene breaks”) that makes me feel that lecture and class activities will have a better flow to them. We’ll see how that works in practice.

At some point I think I’m going to want either Bookends or Sente, but neither are affordable right now. I have paper copies of several hundred articles in my personal library that I’ve never catalogued or organized well and I think a stand-alone app that resides on my ibook would be much better for that, but I can find other work-arounds for the time being.

Again, thanks for the help.

Here are your main sources of research data:

  1. Advisers, other scholars, and librarians
  2. Books and articles on paper (or microfilm)
  3. The same in PDF files
  4. URLs for Google Books and other sources on the Web.

Every source requires a bibliographic reference.
And it’s best to record them on first encounter
In a reference manager: EndNote or BookEnds.
Despite what fans say, they aren’t that different.
So get the one that costs you the least.
(Ask for the educator discount)

A reference manager helps record sources
And format output, in footnotes & bibliography.
Plus, it handles all kinds of reference types,
Like books, journals, maps, CDs, etc.
Just enter the reference data, plus notes, abstract, and URL.

You also need a text database, like one of the DT products.
That stores all digital sources and notes
(Including those exported from the reference manager)
And lets you organize and analyze that data.
Because PDFs are essential, you’ll need at least DT Personal.
(And ask for the educator discount)
(See also Skim and Papers for collecting and annotating PDFs)

Other requisites are Scrivener and a word processor.
Be sure to check always for educator discounts!

Yes, it does – at least, it does to me. I’m not keen on tagging. I’d sooner search the data itself, and the more sophisticated search tools that you get with DTPro are a great help in getting useful results. (I find that being able to search for a word that is NEAR another word is particularly useful. Concepts don’t always crop up in neat packages.)

I’ve never used DevonNote, but to judge from what it says on the web-site, it is aimed more at taking notes than at heavyweight organising of data. If you are going to need to organise a lot of material, I would think that DTPro would be a better bet. I would advise you to try it for a while – the beta version is (I think) free to use for a couple of months or more.

I would miss the Applescript capability, too. One doesn’t really need to be able to write Scripts because there are various free ones available, and they do offer some useful additional functions. Depending on what you are doing, the concordance might also prove useful. It is basically a list of all the words in the documents in your database. It can be quite illuminating to discover that a certain word is cropping up a lot in your data (though I have to say that I’m doing textual analysis, so I would find it useful).

There are obviously some advantages in going through the process of thinking out a taxonomy – principally, of course, the fact that it makes you think! But the work I am doing is data-driven – in other words, it is by looking at the material that I discover links, themes, etc., etc. So for me, creating tags in advance is not really the right way to go about things. It is potentially forcing ideas on the data before it has been collected.

I think I would at least give DTPro a trial for a while to see if it suits you. If not, you can at least export your material and use something else.

Best of luck with the teaching and the exam. My first lesson to undergrads was pretty chaotic, but we all survived (and, I hope, went on to better things).

Martin BB.