Yet another notes and citations question

I’ve made a dedicated good-faith effort to figure this out from the manual, the tutorials (print and video), and the forums, but if it’s somehow covered somewhere in all of that, I’ll confess now to being an idiot for not being able to suss it out, and hope for some merciful help.

I’d like to be able to use Scrivener for a long non-fiction book that I’ve been commissioned to write, but I have exacting instructions about how author notes and citations to references are to be handled:

  1. Superscript sequential numbers in the text for each author annotation or cited reference—but restarting at “1” in every chapter.

  2. The author notes and properly formatted citations at the end of the book, in a section called “Notes,” for each of those numbered annotations, sequentially keyed to them and collected by chapter, with a bold subheading for each chapter group. Of course at each chapter subheading, the numbering would start at “1” again to match the numbering within each chapter.

Whether the superscript numbers in the text refer to an author notation or a cited reference is immaterial, as they all will be collected together for each chapter at the back of the book: some of the notes will be author’s notes, some will be citations to references. I hope that’s clear.

I’m currently using Endnote as the references database, and I understand how to assign bibliography software to work with Scrivener in Preferences, and call it up with Cmd-Y, but I’m in the middle of the learning curve on Scrivener in general, and if there is some simple way to do what I’ve described, I— Well, just see “admitted idiot” disclaimer above.

Thanks for any guidance.

My advice would be to stall: label notes and references with a unique identifier (Jones2006, etc.), but don’t worry about numbering until you’re close to the final draft stage. Depending on your other formatting requirements, you might need to pull the draft into a more layout-oriented word processor by that point anyway.


My career has been built on a foundation of the fine art of stalling. 8)

In this situation, though, I’m afraid that the author-of-record (I’m a ghostwriter on this) wants to review drafts of the chapters as they are completed, with the chapter endnotes for each—which won’t, in the final book, appear at the end of each chapter, but at the end of the book. The draft proofs for each chapter, though, will have to be submitted with the notes appended. The system of notation also has to be flexible enough for automatic renumbering that may be required as a result of author changes through several drafts of any given chapter.

Given the size and scope of this project, this is something I need to work out a solution for in the early going, and I’m beginning to think that Scrivener might not be the right tool for the job. Either that, or its implementation is simply too complex for a mortal (read: non-coder) like me to figure out.

Given Scrivener’s philosophy, I went into this thinking it would be trivial. (Of course, it may be, which is why my “admitted idiot” disclaimer still stands.)

That shouldn’t be a problem – you just compile each chapter separately when you need to send it off. I’ve just compiled a chapter of mine as an experiment. I opened it in Nisus Writer Pro, and as the notes had come out as footnotes rather than endnotes, I converted them all to endnotes (takes a couple of clicks in NWP).

The arrangement for the completed book sounds a bit more difficult, but I take it that you won’t have to worry about that until right at the end, when you would probably have to tinker with the formatting in something like Mellel – – (which I don’t use, but I understand it handles multiple note streams). However, somebody may be able to suggest a way of doing it in Scrivener.

Best of luck with it,

While composing the draft, use the placeholder method I suggested. Put each individual note in a separate file with the placeholder name. Use folders in the Binder to put the notes for each chapter together.

To submit a draft chapter, compile the chapter and its corresponding notes folder into a single document. When you submit the whole thing, recompile with the Binder order setup to put all of the notes at the end.

If it were me, I would try to persuade the client to let me use reference names instead of numbers right up to the very end. I like that method because the name reminds me what’s in the note without actually having to look it up. If that doesn’t work, you can use global replace in Scrivener to replace every instance of a reference name with the corresponding number (Jones90 becomes 1, Smith07 becomes 2, etc.). Or, alternatively, you can keep the reference names in Scrivener, and use your word processor of choice to change them to numbers in the document that the client gets.

Yes, I know that numbering footnotes by hand sounds tedious. Trust me, it is far less painful than having to create this sort of document using a tool other than Scrivener.


Katherine, I genuinely appreciate your interest, and your taking the time to offer me some suggestions for working this out. I feel utterly confident that what you just described makes perfect sense to you, but, given my level of “command” of Scrivener, the above ranks among the most confusing things I’ve ever read, and on more levels than I could easily express—but certainly starting with “Put each individual note in a separate file.” :open_mouth:

On the first count, I’m reasonably certain that the “persuade the client” approach won’t go anywhere. On the second count, if I understand you correctly (and that might be a very big “if”), it seems that I failed to make the exact needs on this clear. E.g., in the book, a notation citing “Jones90” might be note No. 3 in one chapter, citing page numbers from Jones90, but would be note No. 16 in another chapter, citing different page numbers of the same work. I can’t see how any kind of global replace could be applicable.

Hm. Well, on other projects, I’ve found that it’s quite straightforward in, e.g., Word, to insert endnotes and have them collected at the end of a section, which I can define as a chapter, and I can elect to restart the numbering at each section (chapter, as defined). And those are dynamic, so with client changes, the endnotes change accordingly. Of course if I do each chapter as a separate Word document, I can have the endnotes go at “End of document.” In either case I do have to collect all the annotation into a separate section, divided by chapter, once the whole MS is approved, but that’s not terribly difficult.

I had, perhaps unreasonably, expected there would be some similar facility in Scrivener.

Sorry about that… Let me try again with a little less Scrivener-speak…

One of the fundamental ideas of Scrivener is that the thing you’re working on can be written in chunks. Maybe you write chapters out of order. Maybe you start by transcribing an interview, then slice it into bits and pieces and shuffle the pieces around. Maybe you’re assembling a collection of articles into a book. Whatever your workflow, the smallest unit in Scrivener is the “document,” and documents can be any length, from thousands of words to a few sentences, or even an empty document with just a title. All of these documents are visible in the Binder, which is the list at the far left of the Scrivener window, and you can use the Binder to re-order them at will. This capability takes some getting used to, but it’s extremely powerful and wonderful. Especially when the client starts changing the outline around…

So, I am suggesting that you create a folder, “Chapter 1 Notes,” and within it place a document, “Jones90,” with the contents of the note. This folder can go wherever you like, but I’d suggest putting it at the bottom of the Draft section of the Binder. Meanwhile, in the running text, you put a placeholder, [Jones90], where the foot/endnote marker should go.

Before you read the next paragraph, it might help to open up Scrivener and click the File/Compile menu item. The first item in the list of options is Contents, and it includes a menu of sections and a list of checkboxes allowing you to choose the files to include. (If you haven’t been through the tutorial, now would be an excellent time. It has a complete document you can use to play with these options.)

So, when it comes time to show Chapter 1 to the client, you use the Contents list to assemble the text of Chapter 1 (which may be contained in several documents) and the Chapter 1 notes into a single file. At this point you still have the numbering problem, which I’ll get to in a minute, but you’ve achieved the goal of creating a review draft of Chapter 1, with notes at the end.

Then, when it comes time to assemble the entire work, you make sure the notes folders are in the right place – the end – and use a different set of Compile options to stitch the whole thing together, again creating a single file to send to your ultimate editor.

Make two notes. “Jones90p5” and “Jones90p42.” You’ll end up with each identifier appearing in two places: the running text, and the actual note. The global replace turns both instances into the same number.

Yes, most formatting tasks are trivially easy in Word. The problem is that everything else associated with preparing the document is hard… on one project, I got client feedback from three different people. One sent an email. One marked up the draft I sent him. And one included large chunks of new text at various points in the draft. Some of the feedback was contradictory, with two people wanting two different things. In addition to changes to the text, they wanted to swap several sections around. I used Scrivener to split each input into chunks, reorganize the chunks so that related sections were all together, merge them with my original, and edit the whole thing for consistency and continuity. Less-elegant endnote management is a small price to pay for not having to do that kind of editing in Word.


A few screenshots of the method I use – the notes in Scrivener:

Choosing only one chapter in Compile:

Choosing endnotes in Compile:

Since I can’t add more than three attachments, I’ll put the resulting file in the next one.

The result I get in Nisus Writer Pro is this:

No idea if that helps at all.

Cheers, Martin.

Thank you for that thoughtful and comprehensive explanation, Katherine.

I hope you’ll forgive me for what follows, because nothing you said, specifically, gives rise to it. Perhaps it was the catalyst—but only as the culmination of 15+ years of working with just about every text- or writing-related program in existence (at least for Macs), and of embarking on learning Scrivener, and of having invested an uncountable number of hours throughout the years of poring over documentation and tutorials for an uncountable number of such programs (much of the documentation being of very questionable literacy or proofreading levels, or both), and of having invested literally hours very recently in poring over the documentation and tutorials for Scrivener, and in reading I don’t know how many threads in these very forums concerning the enormous complexities (some would argue, with good foundation, “options”) for compiling—

And I just literally burst out laughing. This is no common “LOL” moment; I mean this was borderline-hysteria-laughing. Glee.

It just finally overcame me that for all the time I have invested in trying to figure out how to be “helped” by computers in writing, I dare say I could have created a book-length manuscript using a hammer and chisel on stone tablets.

ENIAC was created in 1946, so it just happened to hit me very hard, in this particular thread, that after 65 years of digital computing, we are still at this extraordinary level of complexity in simply trying to express ourselves with words. Then I glanced at the virtual calculator open on my screen, and marveled that with a few quick clicks, I can perform mathematical calculations that would have required a degree a few decades ago. Yet I read and edit (professionally) works that have been carefully and meticulously crafted—using computers—by people who have degrees, more than a few of them post-graduate degrees, and most of them couldn’t construct a comprehensible or engaging English sentence if they had a gun to their heads.

Perhaps this all is divine retribution for—or the natural consequence of (take your philosophical pick)—attempting to collaborate, literarily, with a cold and hard material device that was designed to understand two and only two things: “0” and “1.”

Perhaps if computers had been designed originally to process language, writing would be a breeze, and the number-crunchers would have to invest this kind of effort in doing those mathematical calculations that my little funky stock calculator does at the speed of light.

I deeply repent for this gratuitous and erratic philosophical detour into the woods. I think I’m going to sit under a tree for a bit, and seriously consider looking for a good deal on a portable electric typewriter.

Thank you again for your interest and help.

Yes, it does help, and thank you very much.