Towards a better integration between Zotero and Scrivener

Hello all,

I'm relatively new to the Zotero community, but I think I could have something to share with you all.
I'm a PhD student in France (therefore : please excuse my bad english :p) and I've been using Zotero for a bit more than a year. Since the beginning of my PhD, I'm also using Scrivener for its great long text writing features. But I've been struggling with the citation method. Along with a fellow PhD candidate, we came up with something to enhance our workflow with Zotero and Scrivener.

So this is what I do to upgrade my work flow. By the way, I'm using a mac -maybe you PC/linux users can figure a way out from what I'll be explaining.

1) I use the classic method to link the two softwares : citation using the Scannable Cite export format in Zotero. This can be selected in the options.

2) Now, I build a command that allow me to make the Zotero prompt pop out when I write.
Using this method :
I create a command in Automator. Just follow the explanations in the video. The difference is : don't use the zotpick-pandoc that he's suggesting, but instead download (or copy paste) the code for zotpick scannable cite in zotero. It's all in the same download file in the link :, the name is : zotpick-scannable-cite.applescript.

3) Build the command. I just followed the steps in the video.

4) Now I can use Scrivener, hit a key (that I can configure), chose a Zotero reference within the dedicated panel (and add prefix, suffix, page number...), integrate the citation formatted in my document (it's in scannable cite).

5) Then I can export (ODT), scan ODT to citations with Zotero (the classic way :
and there I have my document with Zotero citations that I can configure.

Not perfect, but great for what I do ! Like I said, it's working, not that simple and intuitive, but its a better integration anyway.
Let me know if you need help.

  • Julian,
    Thank you this is really useful. But when I try to install the zotpick-applescript that you link to, and save it, I get a error message "Better BibTeX not installed: This script will not work unless Better BibTeX is installed. Please make sure that Better BibTeX is installed in the running instance of Zotero." Did you need to do this to make it work?
  • Yes, the Zotero picker that the script calls is part of Better BibTeX.
  • Hi Julien,

    Thanks a lot for this. I folled all the stept from the video and when I am hitting the key this message appears in the scrivener : "Bibliography/Citation Manager not found. The Bibliography/Citation Manager set in Preferences could not be launched. Please check Preferences to ensure that the correct manager is specified and check that it is installed properly on your system".

    What might be the problem? I am very new to Scrivener, just have started learning how to use it..
  • Are you using Zotero 4 or 5? Better BibTeX doesn't work yet with Zotero 5, so none of the above will work.
  • Hi!

    I am using Zotero version I have tried using this method in notes application, and it works, but not in Scrivener though(
  • Hi Valeriya,

    In Automator, try to create an Application instead of a Service (follow the same steps, just select "Application"). Save it in a folder (say ~/Documents) then select your app as a reference manager for cmd-Y in Scrivener Preferences. It should work!
  • To retrieve the citation key their is also an alfred project

    Perhaps for mac user that's a good workflow: alfred + zothero + scanable citation.
  • @gagarine Hi! I'm trying to learn this method, but I can't figure out how to copy citation key with zothero. It only copies formatted in-text citations or bibliography entries. Any suggestion will be appreciated!
  • edited December 6, 2019
    The trick is to change the default format under edit>preferences>export>default format to "scannable cite" once you've installed the ODF scan plugin.

    If "scannable cite" isn't listed as an option (which has been a problem on occasion since the move to Zotero 5) you can perform a manual update as explained in the following forum post:
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