Using Zotero with Scrivener

Scrivener is writing software that has become increasingly popular with academics. It helps organize long pieces of writing. Affordable, cross-platform, and can be installed on multiple computers of the same platform. There is a  generous 30 opens (not 30 consecutive days) free trial.

There is currently no Zotero plugin for Scrivener, but there might be a tool in the near future. Until then there are a number of workarounds.


Two Easy but un-Dynamic Methods

  1. Drag and drop citations from Zotero into Scrivener (or manually type) footnotes and citations. Use Zotero to generate a bibliography which can be copied and pasted  into the Scrivener project or the compiled Word document.
  2. Draft in MS Word using the Zotero Plugin for Word to create footnotes and bibliography. Export the document along with its footnotes/citations and bibliography into Scrivener in order to further organize using import  or import & split.  Caution: The connection to Zotero is no longer dynamic and footnotes/citations and the bibliography become static and simple text.


Two Less Easy but more Dynamic, Reliable, and Powerful Methods that require installing more Add-ons and software:

  1. Top Method Recommended by Zotero for precision and reliability: ODF Scan Plugin
    1. Very detailed instructions: Zotero ODF Scan Help  which require quite a few downloads. Expect to encounter some challenges with the downloads. Specifically--on a Mac, you may have problems with Java. On a PC, you may have problems installing Scannable Cite.
    2. Once you've downloaded and installed everything you need, insert placeholder citations into Scrivener from Zotero (e.g., by setting your default export format to RTF Scan and dragging from Zotero into Scrivener).
    3. When you are done writing, export from Scrivener in the format *.ODT.
    4. In Zotero, click Tools -> ODF Scan and select your document to have Zotero convert the placeholders to dynamic Zotero citations.
    5. Open the document in LibreOffice (free, open source Office) to finish formatting. 
  2. Less Recommended by Zotero as slightly less reliable but usually installation problem-free: RTF Scan
    1.  Detailed instructions: Zotero RTF Scan Help 
    2. In Scrivener, drag and drop or copy & paste a citation in the body of a document. Note that you should insert the citation in the body of the document, and not in a Scrivener-style footnote.
    3.  In Scrivener, insert {Bibliography} in the body of the document, in the spot where you would like the Bibliography to appear (assuming you want the references at the end)
    4.  In Scrivener, compile the document, using *.RTF as the output format.
    5. In Zotero, go to Tools > RTF Scan. Zotero will prompt you to select input and output files. Select the RTF file that you created in the previous step. You can also select an output file, or you can accept the default file created by Zotero. Click Next.
    6.  Zotero will display a table and ask you to confirm any ambiguous references.  Ensure that every citation listed in the table has a corresponding Item Name. i.e. if the "Item Name" field is blank, you must select a citation. Once you have done this, click Next.
    7. Zotero will prompt you to select a citation style, e.g. MLA or APA. Select a style and click Next.
    8. Zotero will confirm that your document has been scanned. Open the document and confirm that the formatting is correct.