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CITATION WORKFLOW FOR EDITORIAL

When I write on the Mac I use either Byword or Scrivener, depending on the size and complexity. On my iPhone, Byword is my preferred editor along with Notesy which is my nvALT replacement. All well and good. I also use Byword on my iPad, but for a long time I felt like more was needed for more complex things. And then Editorial by Ole Zorn came along. Many (like the infamous @Viticci from Macstories.net) have heralded this app as a giant step in the evolution of editing/writing on the iPad.

I tend to agree, that is, if you like building nerdy workflows to amplify the tool and your writing. I think that for bloggers, especially those using their iPad as their primary device, it’s a godsend. Some of the writing I do is not just for blogging, but also for more serious stuff (like work) which requires reasearch and maybe even citations. For bloggers, citations are often links to other blogs, and this is of course where the build-in browser of Editorial is pretty darn good. But when it comes to citations, most people I know, use a bibliography manager, not a browser.

I’ve chosen Zotero as my bibliography manager, as it works really well with my general information management workflow (documented here), which is the basis of most of my more complex research. In general I also keep my documents in Dropbox to ensure that they are available from all my devices. Bottom line is, I’ve long wanted to have access to my references (from Zotero) when I happen to be writing from my iPad, either in Editorial or Byword.

Zotero in action

Luckily, Zotero has the ability to export it’s bibliography as references to a text file, using whatever citation style you prefer. And so I got to thinking, that maybe I could export my bibliography to a Dropbox folder (I chose my nvALT folder) so that it would be available for use in a workflow in Editorial.

The exported list

That way, I could write the lastname of the author of a given citation, select the name and run a workflow. And that’s exactly what this workflow does. I’ve named it “Cite” (not very original, I know) and it works best if you simply select the last name of the author to search for the citation. The workflow loads the text file, scans it for the selected text and presents a list of the matching citations. When pressed, it is inserted as a footnote:

Text Selected
A match!
The inserted reference

Feel free to expand it or provide comments, I’m sure there are ways to enhance the search through the file of citations (maybe using a python script?), but this is where it starts.

If you’re interested in the Editorial app, I strongly recommend reading this review from Macstories.net and grabbing a copy of Federico Viticci’s iBook on using Editorial.

UPDATE: I just discovered this Editorial forum post by mcburton describing his much more advanced workflows which utilizes Zotero library search to enable a local BibTeX file, which can then be cited from. If I understand it correctly, it is for further Pandoc usage, so it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. Try them out as well, I certainly will!

Happy writing!