How do I keep track of sources/citations in Scrivener?
July 21, 2017 3:28 PM   Subscribe

As I'm typing my draft in Scrivener, I want to keep track of my sources on the fly. I want to just be able to link a spot in the draft to a source, and I'm shocked there doesn't seem to be an easy way to do this. I'd also like to be able to toggle between viewing citations and not viewing them, if I just want a clean view of my draft. Why is this so hard?

Ideally, I'd find a way so that if, for example, I type "In the year 1990, Sassy magazine featured Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love on the cover," I can insert an unobtrusive link to a URL, or map to a citation, or a citation manager. Right now I see I can insert a comment, but that looks extremely messy.

FWIW, I'm also using Zotero to keep track of sources as I come across them, but that's just a jumble of links right now, and not mapped to specific facts in the draft. I can't find a way to integrate Zotero and Scrivener.

What am I missing? Why is this so hard?
posted by Mystical Listicle to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a direct answer, but you might try looking on the Scrivener Forums at Lit&Lat and search on "citations" (you may have to register for free to search). It comes up with over 900 hits. A quick perusal seems to indicate integrating 3rd party citation managers, but academic users seem happy with the software.

As with many things Scrivener-related, some of the goodness probably comes in the post-Scrivener processing. For all of its incredibly good features, it's primarily a drafting and organizational tool, not a final output/publishing tool. And, again as with many things Scrivener, you will see your greatest flexibility if you use the Mac version.

Good luck! It's easy to get lost in those forums.
posted by lhauser at 3:50 PM on July 21, 2017

Bibliographic systems are never trivial. The problem is you are looking for both minimalist writing environment as well as powerful citation management. And also maybe production software for publication-ready output? Tall order, in my reckoning.

Maybe check out some stuff about integrating BibTex and LaTeX with scrivener. And markdown!

I guess it comes down to: do you want to manage citations on your own and write simply, or do you want to geek out on automated document processing, citation management, etc.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:25 PM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

While I have used both Scrivener and Zotero for writing my dissertation, I'm afraid my answer doesn't exactly check all your boxes. What I did was keep track of relevant sources I had in Zotero, making sure all relevant information was inserted correctly. While writing in Scrivener, I used the author-date citation style manually (e.g. Casey, 2009, 213) and marked the reference in yellow. While you might suspect the opposite, this is what what allowed me to ignore the references and focus on the content while writing. It was only later, when I exported my finished draft as an Word-document, that I used the Zotero plugin to change all these (easily retrievable) citations to Zotero field codes and automatically generate an academically correct reference apparatus and bibliography. This process took some time, but it allowed me to focus on the writing while writing, and it took virtually no brain-power - which at the end of the writing process I hadn't left much of. So in that sense, all in all, I think it saved time.

All solutions to integrate Scrivener en Zotero that I found online were much more of a hassle, especially for really long documents. However, there is a lot of information to be found and the updated versions of both programs might offer new and different solutions. I second the suggestion to take a look at the Scrivener Forums, as well as the Zotero Forums. Good luck writing!
posted by Desertshore at 1:01 AM on July 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wonder if you have tried inspector footnotes, as opposed to inline footnotes or comments? You can insert inspector footnotes and inspector comments with a click, they are linked to a specific word or phrase in your draft, and they live in the inspector pane, keeping your main text uncluttered. If you don't want to see them you can toggle off the inspector area.

That's what I used for my dissertation. And I actually pasted in complete formatted citations from my reference manager (Bookends), rather than using placeholder citations as others have described, but you could certainly also use placeholder citations in inspector footnotes.

You can convert inline comments and footnotes to inspector comments and footnotes and vice versa, also.
posted by bluebird at 1:22 AM on July 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

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