Citations in Scrivener!?

Scrivener is a software I have heard about many times from academics;  I first read about it on the Thesis Whisperer blog a few years ago, and I could immediately see the appeal.

Scrivener is a word processing software widely used by people who do a lot of writing – like novelists and scriptwriters.  What it is really good at is breaking down the writing process into smaller chunks. Rather than writing something like a novel as a big, hundreds of pages long, word document, Scrivener lets you write it chapter by chapter, or even paragraph by paragraph. When you use Scrivener, you write the document in small pieces, and then are free to reorder the document as you see fit.


You can see how this would make writing something like a scientific paper easier too. You could write section by section, or write up the results figure by figure, changing and reordering and adding as you go.


The one fatal flaw that kept me from fully embracing Scrivener a few years ago, was the lack of integration with cite as you write referencing software. While Scrivener might have saved me many hours of writing time, it was going to cost me many more hours of formatting and numbering citations.


Luckily, time has passed and I am very pleased to say that it is now possible to use referencing software with Scrivener! While the process is still not smoothly integrated the way that citation tools are in Microsoft Word, it has reached a point where using referencing software with Scrivener is a viable option.


The thanks for cluing me into this process go to Elaine at ALawUntoHerself; her guide is much more thorough that what I am posting here.


If you aren’t familiar with Scrivener, there is a 10 minute introductory video on YouTube worth watching. Scrivener offers a free trial, and they offer student pricing to purchase the software. It is also worth mentioning that a Scrivener iOS app is being released this week, and according to one writer at least, it is worth checking out.


Without further ado — citing in Scrivener using EndNote X7!


  1. Open Endnote and copy the reference you want to citeEndnote.png


  1. Paste the reference into Scrivener. You will end up with something that looks like this:

Scrivener 1

  1. Export your Scrivener document to Word

Word 1

  1. Click on “Update Citations and Bibliography”
Word 2

Et voila! Magically formated!

If you are looking for other details, like adding page numbers, I suggest taking a look at the post from ALawUntoHerself.


I haven’t tried this with other citation software, as I typically work with EndNote lately. I have seen some posts about using a similar process with Zotero references, and I would be very interested to know whether anyone has a similar process for using Mendeley with Scrivener!

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