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Adding Evernote notes to a Scrivener project

Evernote invariably comes up in my Scrivener courses. Someone mentions how they use it for their research and asks how to integrate it with Scrivener. Someone else asks what it is, and off we go. 😉

Since Evernote is a web clipping tool at its core—and a fabulous way to keep track of all sorts of things, from recipes, all of the ISBNs related to a book, book release checklists, travel resources, and more—it often does a much nicer job of grabbing Internet content than Scrivener. Which is fine with me. I want Keith and the crew at Literature & Latte focusing on Scrivener’s core competencies anyway. Especially since it’s a cinch to import or link to research files stored in Evernote.

Here are a few ways to do bring your Evernote content into a Scrivener project. (Click any image for a larger view.)

Import an Evernote Note as a Web Page

Rather than import the web page directly, let Evernote clip and convert into a nice format, then import the Evernote note.

  1. Locate your note in Evernote.
  2. Right-click the Note (or select it and click the Note menu).
  3. Go to More Sharing—>Copy Public Link (Mac) or Share—>Copy Share URL (Windows).
    NOTE: The link is available publicly, but you’d pretty much have to tell someone where to look for it (via the link) for them to find it. Still, don’t link to any private or personal information this way. If you just copy the note link instead, it may not work properly when you try to view it in Scrivener.





  4. Switch to your Scrivener project.
  5. Select the folder (one outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder; Research is a good choice) where you’d like to import the web page.
  6. Go to File—>Import—>Web Page (or right-click the folder and go to Add—>Web Page).
    A dialogue box appears.
  7. If the web address (URL) is not already filled in with the link you copied, paste it into the Address box.
  8. In the Title box, add a title for the web page to remind you what it is.




  9. (Windows only) Choose how you want to import it. Webpage Complete (MHT) or one of the PDF options should work, but I’m currently having issues importing web pages—especially as PDFs—into Scrivener on my Windows 7 machine. See Windows Import Workaround below.
  10. Click OK.
    Scrivener imports the note and adds it to the folder as a web page. Select it in the Binder to view. All of the links are active and clickable. NOTE: The import process can take a-w-h-i-l-e.


Windows Import Workaround

  1. Locate the note in Evernote, right-click, and choose Export Note.
  2. Choose Export as a Single HTML Web Page (.html).
  3. Click Export and save the file to a location where you can find it again (Desktop, maybe?).
  4. If you get a message that the export succeeded, click Close.
  5. Switch to Scrivener and right-click the folder where you want to import the web page. Choose Add—>Files.
  6. Select the HTML file you just saved from Evernote, and click Open. If you get the Import Files dialogue box, click OK.
    The pictures may not import (they’re in a folder on your computer with the same name as the individual HTML file), but the links should work (if not, right-click the hyperlink and choose Copy Link, then paste into your browser).

Create a Reference (Bookmark) to an Evernote Note

Don’t want to clutter up your Binder? Having issues importing notes as web pages? Or maybe you want to link to a note that you expect to update regularly so you always want the most current version.

Create a reference (called Bookmarks in Scrivener 3) to it instead. We’re going to create a project reference, but the steps are the same if you want a document reference (just select the document in the Binder and choose Document References in step 3).

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above to copy the note URL.
  2. Click the References button in the Inspector pane (or go to View—>Inspect—>References).
  3. Make sure the References header says “Project References.” If not, click it to toggle to Project References.
  4. Click the + button and choose Create External Reference.MacRefMenu
  5. Enter the title and paste the URL into the appropriate text boxes.




  6. To view your note, double-click the paper icon to the left of the reference.

Create a TOC Note in Evernote

Want a references-like list of clickable links to your Evernote notes on a particular topic, stored as a web page in Scrivener? Follow these steps to create a Table of Contents (TOC) note. It’s a handy thing to have within Evernote too (e.g. as a link from one Evernote folder to notes in another).

  1. Select the desired notes in Evernote (the Expanded Card View didn’t work for me, but all others did).




  2. Click the Create Table of Contents Note button that appears on the right.
    Evernote creates a TOC note that you can move to any folder within your Evernote account.





  3. Follow the steps in the Import an Evernote Note as a Web Page section above to import the TOC note.


    Evernote TOC Note viewed in Scrivener

Want more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

References in Scrivener

[UPDATE 31Jan2020: For the Scrivener 3 version of this info, check out this post on Bookmarks at Writer Unboxed.]

Importing research, images, and web pages into Scrivener is handy, but sometimes creating a reference might be a better option. When might you want to use a reference instead of importing?

When you always want the most up-to-date version of a file or web page.
When you import a file, Scrivener creates a copy of it, thus freezing it in its current incarnation. Sometimes that’s desirable, other times not.

If the file is large or you have a lot of them.
Importing files increases the size of your project, which can slow down backups and syncing with online drives. A large project may take up too much space on a flash drive or be too big to email. Some people also prefer not to have their Research folder cluttered with anything but the most important reference materials.

When a web page doesn’t import well.
If you’re having trouble importing a web page, a reference lets you create quick access to it.

When you don’t need to refer to the item frequently, but want to be able to find it easily.
You can create internal references that point to items within the project (usually as document references, see below), but I’m going to focus on external references in this post. External references point to items outside of the project, located either on a drive accessible by your computer, or a web page.

Accessing the References Pane

To view the References Pane, click the References button at the top of the Inspector.

Reference button circled


Reference button circled PC


You can create a document or project reference. A document reference is only visible when the item to which it’s attached is being viewed in the Editor (or is selected in the Corkboard or Outliner). A project reference is visible regardless of which item currently has the focus in a project.

Click the References header in the Inspector to toggle between Project References and Document References, see below. In this post, I’ll be creating project references.

References header Mac


References header windows


Creating a Reference To a File

Use this procedure to add a project reference to a file on a drive that’s accessible from your computer.

1. If necessary, toggle the header to Project References.
2. Click the [+] button and choose Look Up and Add External Reference.

Add External Reference menu


External references menu


3. When the Add References window opens, choose a file and click Open.
The reference document shows up on the line. For Mac users, the URL in this case is the file's address on your drive.




Creating a Reference To a Web Page

This option lets you manually enter the reference information. If you happened to know the file path for a file on your computer, you could use this option to add it as well.

1. Click the [+] button and choose Create External Reference.
2. In the first text box, enter the description of the reference (e.g. Bob’s Vacation). Press the tab key to move to the URL text box.
3. Type (or copy and paste) the web address for the page (e.g.
4. Press Return or click anywhere in the References pane.

creating a web reference


new web reference


TIP: You can create links to Evernote notes this way too. See this post for more on how to copy a note's URL.

Dragging & Dropping References

To add any kind of reference, you can also drag it from Finder (Mac) or Windows Explorer (PC), the Scrivener project Binder, or your browser’s address bar (grab the URL icon) directly to the References pane. No extra steps or clicking buttons required.

Just make sure you’ve selected either Document or Project References first, and that for a document reference, the desired document has the focus in your project.

Viewing a Reference

To view a reference, double-click on the document icon at the left of the reference line.

Editing a Reference

If you give a reference the wrong name, or need to edit the location, you can edit it anytime by double-clicking it.

Deleting a Reference

  1. Select the desired reference.
  2. Click the [-] button in the References header.
    The reference is removed.

Want more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

{Updated 17 Mar 2016}

Take note, paper

How I take notes in 2012.

I may never take notes on paper again. Not if I can help it, anyway.

I took my iPad to my chapter meeting. Not only was the presentation noteworthy, but for me, so was the process of jotting it all down.

I’ve long wanted to take my laptop to such events, but for various reasons decided it wasn’t a good idea. For one, I think the clacking of keys is a bit obnoxious in a small, quiet room with only the speaker talking.

We also don’t have tables or desks at our normal venue, so my lap would get hot, and I’m not lugging my lap desk!

But I can’t overstate the advantage of digital notes. I take them directly in Evernote, which means they’re instantly searchable, organized into a notebook, and tagged. No more notes hidden away in a notebook on a shelf that I may never crack open again. And they're accessible from anywhere I have internet access, not just my living room bookshelf!

With apps like MindNode, I can mind-map the meeting if I want, or with one of the drawing apps, I can draw pictures. Heck, with the awesome camera, I can take pictures (directly into Evernote even).

What’s not to love about that?

How do I love thee, Evernote?

When I first posted about Evernote last week, I had a feeling it would be a game changer. So far it's living up to my expectations and has become an indispensable part of my life both for writing and everything else. And I'm not even using it to its full potential, I'm sure.

Not only can I rip articles and blog posts off the web–which saves both the text and the hyperlink–I can create notes and lists, scan photos, save photos from the web, and keep it all organized in notebooks.

Another cool feature: if you add a photo that contains text, Evernote will convert the text so that it's searchable. Wow!

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek (which I found highly interesting) discusses how he uses Evernote in this blog post. He even uses it in conjunction with Scrivener, much like many of us.

Right now, I'm using Evernote to save articles and notes on story ideas, research, writing craft, and the business side of writing. I also save recipes, a list for things we need to take when we move, lists of books I want to read so that I have them when I'm at the bookstore or library, and a list of gift ideas for upcoming birthdays in the family.

Next, I'm going to set up a notebook that contains my hotel and airline confirmations for all the travel I'm doing this summer.

Since these are synched between my Mac, my iPhone, and the web, I can get to them from anywhere as long as I have phone service or my laptop.

Evernote is like carrying a 3-ring binder for each area of your life, but without the backpack. Best of all, it's simple to use. If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend it.

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Finders keepers

Okay, so after my recent post about, you're using it–or something similar–to save online articles and posts you want to read later. Right?

The next step is to collect the “keepers”. Again, bookmarks get messy, printing wastes paper, and not everything applies to your current Scrivener project (hence you may not want to import it there).

So here's your solution: Evernote.

It's an online binder that lets you create multiple notebooks and synch them between your computer, your PDA, and the web. You can store photos, articles, blog posts, checklists, your own notes, and even tweets from Twitter. I've just started collecting in Evernote, but I can already see the power and value.

I have notebooks for craft articles, research, writing ideas, and recipes. You can tag each item to make searching easier too.

And best of all, it's free!

Check it out and let me know what you think. I think before long I won't be able to live without it.

Happy collecting!
[tweetmeme source=”Gwen_Hernandez” only_single=false]