Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Productivity Tools

Just a quick post today, as I'm on the move again. So what I have for you is the list of productivity tools for writers:

Citation & Note-taking:

Basic writing software
: Frogprincess and a couple others (me included) are using Scrivener.** Don't worry – it's perfectly compatible with Word. It's just a very nice format for organizing and constructing your work, and especially for looking at it in small chunks that you can later seamlessly integrate. Be warned, though: there is a slight learning curve – it takes about a week to learn 85% of it (and the other 15% you may not actually need). Another note: it was designed for Macs, and I think the PC version is still only in Beta, FWIW.

Miscellaneous Productivity Ideas:

And finally: Frogprincess weighs in with a recommendation for Netflix instant, "for those 15 minute breaks we all need." Movies aren't my preferred writing reward (it takes me out of whatever flow I've established), but do make sure to plan in short breaks and rewards – whatever moves you forward without setting you back.

**And those of you who are using Scrivener – have you figured out how to get it to rotate pdfs in your "research" folder? Some of my Interlibrary pdfs arrive scanned sideways, and the inability to view them right-side-up in Scrivener is bugging the crap out of me.


New Kid on the Hallway said...

Notorious - I think if you open the PDFs in Adobe Reader, Reader has a "rotate view" function. You can turn the PDF right-way round, then save it (or save a copy as something else). Then when you open it in Scrivener, it will be the right way around.

At least, I *think* that works! Good luck!

NSK said...

How seamless is the integration between Zotero and Scrivener? I've been intrigued by Scrivener, as it has a nice looking interface and what seems to be some helpful organizational features.

However, for scholarly research and writing, Zotero is now a pretty vital part of my workflow and being able to directly port citations into Word from Zotero is really helpful. Is this still possible with Scrivener?

I've just browsed these forums (, but it seems like there's some challenges between the two programs. Any thoughts or advice?

Travelia said...

I've had the same question as NSK regarding Scrivener and EndNote. Scrivener is so appealing, but almost 10 years of bibliography in EndNote creates a lot of inertia. The drop-in citation function is just so convenient.

ca78john said...

I just drop in the citations from Zotero to Scrivener and it seems to work fine. The transition of footnotes into Word is a bit clunky.

NSK said...

@ca78john, does Scrivener recognize when sources have been used multiple times and shorten them or use "ibid." in the appropriate circumstances?

Reconquesta said...

In my experience, Scrivener and Zotero don't work well together. There's a way to use the RTF scanner feature (see, but in my mind having to type in footnotes manually (and keep them in-line) defeats the purpose of the Scrivener Inspector Footnotes feature and limits the usefulness of Zotero (one of its biggest assets is its gift of plug-and-play). I've chosen to ditch Zotero as a citation tool and just use Scrivener. For me, Zotero still works as a stand alone note-taking, research-organizing tool.

Tigs said...

I also do tomatoes and am evangelical about them. is indispensable to my work process.

-k- said...

Love, love, love Scrivener. (If I have to rotate, I do it outside of the program, then import.)

firstmute said...

I am torn between Evernote and Zotero. Can anyone who's tried both speak to why s/he decided on one or the other? I like that Evernote is sort of a whole-life app, but I also think it would be convenient to have an easy citing program. I currently use Bookends for all my notes and bib but find the integration with Word not great.

I used to use Scrivener but found footnotes too frustrating, so I've switched back (for now) to endless Word files. I also like that I can use Word files anywhere through Dropbox.

It was easier when we didn't have a choice :)

Ro said...

@firstmute I'm using both Evernote and Zotero, actually. I'm taking research notes and doing formal writing in Word, copying the same material into Evernote for tagging and easier access, and using Zotero as a database for citations and related links.

I like the ease of backing-up and accessing Word files (used w/ Dropbox too) in their original format, so my most important notes and writing are happening there then getting imported into Evernote in duplicate. Not so fond of the fact that there are relatively limited options for file-type in backing up one's Evernote files, hence the continued use of Word.

I've tried note-taking in Zotero but found the formatting options and access / sorting better in both Word and Evernote. That was a while back though - I'd love to hear more from folks who are using Zotero for notes these days and how they're liking it.

Anonymous said...

Evernote is indeed a great tool for writers. I use it everyday to keep all things organized.

Dave @ Productivity tools for entrepreneurs said...

I agree Reconquesta. Scrivener and Zotero don't work well together. I love these tools but I can't figure out how to integrate Scrivener with Zotero, even after multiple Internet searches.