Scrivener and Zotero Integration

Hello all,

I just want to inform you that new integration between Scrivener and Zotero has been developed.

The main characteristic of this integration is that you can call the Zotero picker from Scrivener, browse the Zotero library through it and add citations in Scrivener. Then through compile add the citations and bibliography in citation style that you prefer. At the end you get fully expanded Word document (.docx).

You can find detail instruction how to use it at

See the discussions at

This integration was not going to be possible without the work of Emiliano Heyns (BetterBibTex) and Erik Hetzner (zotxt). Especially the hard work of Emiliano.

I am very thankful to them!

I hope you find this integration useful.
  • I would love to see step-by-step instructions, in layman's terms, for setting up and calling the Zotero picker from within Scrivener for Windows or Scrivener on Linux. The links provided above do not seem to include instructions simply for Scrivener and Zotero. Thx, m
  • It's on my list of things to do.
  • edited September 23, 2015
    @adamsmith: It's great to see your name in connection with the use of this capability! Will it be able to work with Standalone, and hence with Juris-M, too? Thx, m
  • pretty sure it will, yes.
  • I rarely ask, "How soon?"
  • Hard to say -- it's the next thing I want to write about, but may well take a month.
  • More power to you then! Thanks! M
  • Great to hear things move. I really would like to see a nicely working solution for Zotero/Firefox/ODT/LibO (on Windows without the need of Word)
  • @ChristianR -- not sure I understand. That already exists and has nothing to do with the above.
  • Ok I forgot to add Scrivener: Scrivener/Zotero/Firefox/ODT/LibO on Windows. As far as I understand there is no possibility to access the Zotero Library directly under Scrivener with this setup, I mean without using RTF/ODF Scan later after the exporting to ODF?
  • edited September 24, 2015
    There's various layers involved here.
    Two things are new here:
    1. The availability of the Zotero citation tool (the quick format bar) across the entire system and its ability to copy citation codes (like Scannable Cites or bibtex or MMD) to the clipboard.
    That's the part I'm mainly interested in.
    2. The ability to compile the document directly from within Scrivener using MMD without any need for LibreOffice. Best I can tell, that will work easily only with Scrivener 2.0 for Mac. Instructions for that are linked to from the above post, but personally I'm not interested in that part.
  • Thanks for explaining. I will wait until I read of successful usage in Scrivener on Windows of Zotero citations by "not-advanced" users of the ODT format. I for example have no knowledge about MMD, Pandoc and Marked 2, scripting, etc. and would prefer not to must learn such things.
  • @adamsmith: Yeah, my primary concern is the ability to plunk citations into Scrivener right out of the Zotero/Juris-M picker. Divide and conquer. M
  • edited September 25, 2015
    @adamsmith: is it possible in RTF/ODF Scan to add an option to scan for the bibtex key [@author.year] in the .rtf document. The result of the scan to be a new scanned .rtf document that will be opened in Word and converted in .docx.
    In this way no markdown, pandoc and odf will be needed.
  • I've always figured it could be built into RTF scan once citekeys are supported by Zotero proper, not just via add-ons.
    It can't really be done with ODF scan, which works without querying the Zotero database at all.
  • thanks!
    I am thinking loud now.
    We have Better-bibtex through which citation keys can be generated. They can be placed in separate Citation Key field in Zotero.
    We can use zotxt to search Zotero for the citekey in this Citation Key field. Actually we used zotxt in the first version of the new integration of scrivener and zotero to this. Thus, I am thinking maybe we can use it also now. I saw some attempts for this at
    However I am thinking instead of odf to use rtf.
    I tested the zotxt filter on pandoc where input is .rtf and output is .rtf document and it recognizes the citekeys. Thus it should also work in the RTF/ODF Scan.
    What do you think?
  • I'm sure it can be done on a technical level, but RTF scan isn't an add-on, it's built into Zotero, so it can't rely on functionality provided by an add-on.

    Pretty sure it'd be possible to pack this into an add-on if someone is interested, but I'm personally not very interested in this as I think RTF isn't a very attractive format. Back in 2006 when this was included into Zotero it made sense since markdown et al weren't really a thing, but thinking about where to push Zotero, I'd much rather move towards a more universal approach to text scanning.
  • I completely understand you. I also write my work in markdown. However, my idea is how to expand the integration for people that use the rich text format. Unfortunately, I do not have the knowledge and skills to develop that so I will ping people from time to time :)
    Keep the good work!
  • Hi everyone,

    I am about to embark on some postgrad research and am in the process of trying to figure out a decent workflow. I have just about got my head around the basics for Zotero and am not trying to figure out which word processor to use. I came across Scrivener and its looks great but I am hesitant to use it as its integration with Zotero seems a bit intimidating for a non tech-head like me. Will a more simple integration be introduced soon or does anyone else know of any similar word processors that might I might use instead?
  • edited October 2, 2015
    Well, the basic version of Scrivener integration we describe here: is slightly less smooth (which is why I'm excited about the above-mentioned stuff), but less complicated to set up and works well. We have a good number of people relying on that for a couple of years now without problems.

    edit: but that's likely all there's going to be in the near future and there's nothing else like Scrivener--certainly nothing with any better Zotero integration.
  • the main developer of Scrivener plans a better integration of Pandoc in Scrivener ( for the next version of Scrivener.

    This might bring more simple integration.

    or if somebody changes the RTF scan addon to scan biibtex citation keys.

    Till then these are the (very good) options
  • edited October 16, 2015
    Thanks to all involved in creating the BBT picker. In case it wasn't quite clear at the start of the thread, you can use system scripts to make BBT's Zotero picker pop up in Scrivener (or another text editor) in Mac or Linux. These scripts generate citation markers in Scannable-Cite or Pandoc format, for use with the main existing Scrivener workflows.

    The AppleScripts for Mac are here, courtesy of Dave Smith.

    I've done something similar for Linux in bash (xdotool package required):
    scripts and workflow/instructions.

    System scripts are down and dirty integration, with bugs and unpredictable behaviour. But I find picker access more than makes up for a few niggles. The picker floating over my text avoids the disruption to the writing process of leaving my writing to go into Zotero. Select your reference in the picker as usual and the picker adds it into the text for you.

    The scripts rely on the Better BibTeX plugin to access the picker. But if you're using Scannable-Cite then your workflow will make no other use of BibTeX, and you won't need a .bib library. Might system-wide picker access become part of Zotero proper in due course?

    ETA: New location for scripts.
  • Can anyone help me set up my macbook to integrate zotero citations and bibliography with scrivener as per the intructions link above which I was not able to work? I am in London. Thanks
  • see this guideline
  • Thanks. I have tried and failed; do you do private consutancy to help me get going? Thanks
  • Hi, I'm new to Scrivener but have been using Zotero with Word for some time now.

    I've found these two tutorials to be more straightforward, both suggest using OpenOffice (ODT) as an intermediary format.

    The only difference to the above tutorials is that I've installed the Better Bibtex extension and Cite As You Write picker so I can pull references directly into Zotero without the need for copy-paste.

    I am not far into it enough to see if I will need to worry about Pandoc or command-line conversion.
  • Wanted to reach out and see if anyone is still working on a turnkey solution to the zotero-scrivener integration issue. I'd love to move portions of my workflow to scrivener, but the lack of easy zotero integration is really holding me back. I imagine I'm not alone. Would love to see a real solution to this that enables most the power of the zotero integration with MS Word. Any news?
  • What part specifically are you after. I think we're in a pretty good place with scrivener integration. It's a bit hard to set up, but once that's done, out works well
  • A couple issues. First and perhaps most important, I'm not inherently a technical person and the difficulty in setting this up and the extra steps involved even after the workflow is established are non-trivial for me. Second, from what I can tell even the best integration results in an output that can be workable with zotero (references edited, bibliography added, etc), but the intermediate products are a little bit of a mess. In my workflow I'm constantly adding, removing, editing references as I write and re-write. I also need to move back and forth with MS word to collaborate with others, and it seems this may be a challenge using this workflow. I think Scrivener could be great for writing, but I need a simpler yet powerful solution before I'd be able to make the switch. I bet many feel the same way. Of course it's easy for me to ask; I don't have to do the work to improve the situation.
  • no intermediate products with some version of placeholders and good Word back-and-forth I don't think are going to happen any time soon, no.
    I'm not even sure Scrivener is technically able to do the former. I think some type of scan will always be required.
    The latter would be thinkable by using some type of citekeys in an RTF-scan type setting, but but given that citekey support in Zotero is not fully implemented, I don't see this in the near future, no.
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