Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Bibliographic Software [Endnote]

Scrivener for Thesis Writing

Scrivener for Thesis Writing

It is possible to use Scrivener and bibliographic software. I’m most familiar with Endnote, so this tutorial will focus on Endnote, though I’m sure that you could adapt it to other software.
Note: Scrivener does not do CWYW – it won’t compile a nice Bibliography at the end for you, but I’m assuming that most thesis writers are going to have to take their thesis into Microsoft Word at some stage, so I don’t see this as huge issue.
  1.  Nominate your Bibliographic Software in Preferences
Scrivener Preferences Bibliography Manager

Scrivener / Preferences / Bibliography Manager

2. Familiarise yourself with Shortcut keys.  It makes including references so much easier. Here are the basics that you should know [mac]

cmd-c for copy

cmd-v for paste

cmd-h for hide

cmd-tab for switching between different open programs.

cmd-z for undo

I also like cmd-shft-v for paste and match style otherwise I find my text ending up all messy.

3. Open up your Endnote Library.

4.  Select the citation that you want to insert.

5. cmd-c for copy

6. Don’t close or minimise Endnote. Instead just cmd-tab for switching between different open programs (Note: if you’ve got too many programs open then this doesn’t work nicely. Try to just have Scrivener and Endnote open and up on the screen. Other programs should be minimised).

7. In Scrivener, just cmd-shft-v for paste. You can also cmd-v but this will then switch to your Endnote font.

8. Your citation will look something like

{Burton, 2006 #1672}

Scrivener Bibliography Insert Reference

Scrivener Bibliography Insert Reference

9. You can easily adjust this. Lets say you want to add page numbers. Just type directly into the citation

{Burton, 2006 #1672, pp.3-16}

You can see I’ve added a comma and then the pages. Endnote can ‘read’ this information later when you compile a Bibliography in Word.

If you want to omit the author

{, 2006 #1672}

You can do this because Endnote is searching for the reference number (in this case #1672).

10. You don’t need to necessarily keep flipping back to Endnote. I do this mostly cause it is good practice but you can just type in directly. Endnote will then help you sort out the references later. For instance, if I was working on my thesis somewhere without my Endnote library I could just type directly in

{Burton, 2006, pp.3-16}

I wouldn’t remember the reference number but Endnote should help me search based on the author surname and year.

Done! I hope you found this helpful. Any questions ask me in the comments.

Remember if you know a PhD student writing their thesis and they don’t yet know about Scrivener- please introduce them to this blog!


About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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4 Responses to Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Bibliographic Software [Endnote]

  1. anton reepe says:

    “– it won’t compile a nice Bibliography at the end for you,”

    But Endnote can do this with a Group of the cited references in your paper 😉

  2. Pingback: Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Comments, Footnotes and Inline Annotations | Qualitative Research

  3. Mia says:

    Hiya, thank you for the helpful insights. I am using Harvard referencing system, and usually I use two types of in-text citation: author (year) and (author, year); depending on the sentence. What kind of format in Scrivener should I edit it to, to get author (year)? I have been trying to re-shuffle the format but failed miserably to get author(year) once I exported the document to Word.

    • Hi Mia,
      I suggest that you do the following. Go to Microsoft word, add your citation in the format you want (with CWYW on) — then from the Endnote tool bar you choose “Convert to unformatted citations” —> this will show you how to type the plain text of your citations in Scrivener. Good Luck!

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