Scrivener + Zotero + LaTeX

edited August 2, 2017
Hey guys,

I'm about to start a PhD and I'm looking into my options for writing at the moment. I'm already using zotero to handle sources/citations/documents etc. I was wondering if someone could provide some advice for using the three above tools together:

- Planning/writing in Scrivener
- Using zotero to insert citation keys
- And then outputting to LaTeX for typesetting

I've read everything I can find on using them together, but I'm still unsure how 'well' the three play together, and what exactly the process involves. Could anyone provide a simple description of how the three are used together, what the current level of integration is, and what the caveats might be? (I'm on Windows in case that makes a difference)

Thanks in advance!
  • If you are using Zotero 4.0, you can use the BetterBibTeX plugin for Zotero to manage BibTeX citekeys.
  • Hi @bwiernik - I'm using Zotero 5 with a Firefox connector.

    If you use BetterBibTeX do you still have to use the RTF Scan method? I'm confused as to what the actual process is for using all of these tools together.
  • The general process for using Zotero with Scrivener is to install the ODF Scan plugin. Then you insert citations into your document in the Scannable Cite format. Then, after you are finished writing, you export from Scrivener to ODF and use the ODF Scan tool to transform the Scannable Cite placeholders to live Zotero citations in LibreOffice. You final Ian the typesetting in LibreOffice.

    If you really want to use LaTeX to typeset, you can instead export a .bib database and then insert BibTeX citekeys into Scrivener. Some tips on this process can be found here:

    Zotero can’t natively automatically keep a .bib database in sync with your Zotero library. That is what Better BibTeX does. It also does some other things like ensure stable and non-conflicting citekeys. However, it doesn’t currently work with Zotero 5, so if you want to use that plugin, you will need to install and use Zotero 4.0.
  • Thanks very much for the explanation! Much clearer to me now, I appreciate it.
  • I have tried to install the odf scan plugin to work with Zotero 5.0 / Scrivener. However, it does not seem to work. First, the RTF/ODF SCAN FOR ZOTERO add-on is listed under "Extensions", but listed only as "Downloaded". There are no "Preferences" and "Disable" options like the ones for LibreOffice and Mac Integration. And then, if I close Zotero and open it again, it disappear altogether. Furthermore, as I go to PREFERENCES > EXPORT the option "Scannable Cite" does not exist?

    What does it mean? Is the ODF add-on no longer compatible with Zotero 5.0? If so, is there a way around to allow us to work efficiently with Scrivener?

    Thanks in advance!
  • For ODF scan you currently need to
    a) install the beta version of the add-on: (note the installation instructions for Zotero Standalone here:

    b) manually install the Scannable Cite translator: Download from here: Cite.js
    and place into the translators folder in your zotero data directory:
    restart Zotero.
  • Dear adamsmith,

    thank you for your help, but I can't fully follow your instructions. For step 'b', you gave a link that takes me to a page with computer coding in it. Is that what it is supposed to be? I can't find a way to paste that coding into the translators folder in my zotero data directory. Any suggestions?
  • I Managed to drag the computer coding content into the translators folder. Then, I restarted Zotero. Still, the add-on is still not showing on TOOLS > ADD-ONS > EXTENSION location. And there is still no option "Scannable Cite" under PREFERENCES > EXPORT > DEFAULT FORMAT location... Any ideas about what I am doing wrong?
  • For step 'b', you gave a link that takes me to a page with computer coding in it. Is that what it is supposed to be? I can't find a way to paste that coding into the translators folder in my zotero data directory. Any suggestions?
    Right-click on this link: Cite.js and choose "Save target as" (keep the name "Scannable Cite.js")
  • Thank you Gracile!

    It worked, in the sense that now the Scannable Cite options is listed in PREFERENCES > EXPORT > DEFAULT FORMAT location.

    What is still not showing is the ODF Scan add-on in TOOLS > ADD-ONS > EXTENSIONS location. Does it matter?
  • You'll need that for scanning, yes. How did you (try to) install it?
  • edited August 9, 2017
    Ohhh... I think I finally got it. As I was writing you the step-by-step process that I followed I realized that when adding the zotero-odf-scan .xpi file I was actually adding the old file, not the new, beta, version. For some reason it did not appear in my "downloads" folder. I then right-clicked the beta file and saved it as 'save link as' in my desktop. I then added it to ZOTERO > TOOLS > ADD-ONS > Install Add-on From File. Now the add-on is listed there!

    I think this is it, right? Anything else I am missing or that I should do?

    Thank you so much for your help!
  • Yes, that's right. (The documentation is there:
  • Thank you both, Gracile and admsmith. I really appreciated your help!
  • Work on BBT for Z5 is progressing steadfastly (if not necessarily smoothly), Progress can be followed here: and here: . Testers welcome!
  • Tsau017, if you're using Scrivener for final output in LaTeX, you should think about what kind of material you'll be writing. LaTeX is especially good with math and equations, and this may be why you want to use it. But Scrivener is not good at all for composing this kind of material.

    After investing a good amount of time getting up to speed with Scrivener, this was a deal breaker for me, and I switched to LyX (with Zotero & the LyZ plugin) instead. Scrivener is still great for managing a large writing project and composing components of it, but unfortunately it's not very good for scientific/technical writing.
Sign In or Register to comment.