Zotero + ZotFile + BetterBibTeX is the reference manager.

Tangentially, it's surprising how many grad students don't know about reference managers old.reddit.com/r/GradSchool/co

I started using them back in undergrad. How can you write without one is, IDK. Tenacity, I guess.

@cadadr A friend of mine told me about spending three days fixing the references in her thesis by hand and I listened politely but was screaming inside

@ljwrites From a comment of mine there:

One of our older professors told us that back in her days of writing up theses on the typewriter, they'd have the references wrote up as little cards. When the time came to type up the bibliography, they'd sort the stack of cards and go through them, manually creating the bibliography.

Now imagint typing up all of that, and finding you skipped one citation with a guy named Abercrombie... would rather not cite them than rewrite the whole bibliography, I suppose.

@cadadr hey fuck Abercrombie, whatever he said couldn't be *that* important.

OTOH, wouldn't excising the citation require retyping the thesis? :blobcatterrified:

@cadadr @ljwrites

The even older way academics dealt with references was making their wives do all that work (sometimes condescending to mention them in an acknowledgement somewhere in the preface).

@emacsomancer @cadadr something something bad joke about word processors being electronic wives

@ljwrites I'd quite frankly hate to be married to a word processor. I can't even get along with word processors on a platonic level.


@ljwrites I do use LibreOffice when I have to. And I do appreciate it as a concept (of a free software office suite), and the work that goes into it. I just think word processors (esp. post 1990-something) are just horrible paradigms for doing almost anything in, and I'm always miserable when I have to use one.


@emacsomancer @cadadr same, using LibreOffice makes the best of a bad situation. My marriage with her is one of convenience, but is not without fondness :blobcatheart:

@ljwrites @emacsomancer @cadadr my ‘LJ and the Libre Software Polycule’ fanfic is coming out soon

@photonicfae @s0 @emacsomancer @cadadr A passionate but frustrating love story with Emacs with things breaking to the tune of Bad Romance

A friendly cohabitation with LibreOffice, the anthem being A Well-Respected Man

A furious work romance with OmegaT while She Works Hard for the Money blares in the background

@s0 @photonicfae @emacsomancer @cadadr "Ooorg... *Capture* me baby!"
" Gay agenda? The only Agenda I know is you 💖🦄"

@cadadr have you, btw, ever encountered a bibtex style editor/manager that makes it *easy* for editing existing styles or creating new styles from scratch?

every time i've tried to change any predefined bibtex style in any way i've just given up and done manual tweaks, which of course break up after new compiling

and that's the main reason i gave up on bibtex in the past, i just couldn't bend it to the local humanities' style requirements

@Stoori I have never looked under the hood of citation styles before, unfortunately.

@Stoori I did just look at the XML in Zotero and that won't happen ever again. Felt like walking in on your parents in the bedroom 😱

@cadadr I first tried to tweak with raw bibtex styles 15 years ago, and believe me, it was far more terrible than any xml can ever be

so last year i thought that surely things have got better in 15 years and this handy zotero tool to edit bibtex styles will do the job

oh how wrong i was

@cadadr i'm not talking about xml here but the bst style files that i had to deal with 15 years ago

look at the screenshots (no image description), it looks like no big deal, but try to tweak anything on that and it all blows up

i don't remember if i ever find any documentation on the language used here, but if i did, it didn't help

@Stoori Oh, that looks horrible. Reminds me of the shitty DSL in Praat with the suffixed sigils. Doubly horrible if this is implemented in TeX 😱

Tangentially, LaTeX is nice, but it's built on a ton of spaghetti code. Which is why I have high hopes of LuaLaTeX and made it default in my stuff.

@cadadr so yeah, between this and xml, i've for now settled for listing my references by hand to get the style correctly as per our local requirements

all these automatic bibliography systems seem to have forgotten that 1) also people in the humanities would like to use their systems and 2) people in the humanities may not be able to build their own style definitions — they're goddamn humanists! we need someone to hold our hand while we automate

@Stoori @cadadr reminds me, my choices in formatting my diss were either a janky Word template or a janky LaTeX template. I taught myself enough LaTeX to get the job done, it was really hacky and awful and required a lot of searching StackExchange. Even the editorial office couldn't help me with it -- I was like, you made this, what do you mean?

But yeah, I'm sorry to hear it's been a pain for you. Writing itself is hard enough; you shouldn't have to fight formatting.

@greyor @Stoori Ow. I guess this is why I consider writing drafts with pen&paper first. LaTeX is nice but tends to get in the way of writing, especially the first drafts and edits. I have nice Bibtex keys in Zotero, I could just include them like in Pandoc markdown.

Also, I dread it but I may have to type the final version in Word. I did make a .sty github.com/cadadr/hacett-socsc but don't know if they'll let me use it :(

@cadadr @greyor do you have to deliver docx? or can you deliver a pdf that just looks like as it was made in word?

also, if you have to deliver docx, do you really have to type in it, or could you just use pandoc to convert a file from a better format to docx and deliver it?

@Stoori @greyor I think I could deliver a PDF as the final product if it looks bug-for-bug equivalent (and I tried to meticulously do so) but IDK if my PI would be comfortable working with LaTeX & PDFs as we go back and forth on the drafts.

I also worry the school may demand a .docx for some reason, the staff is pretty dickish.

The couple times I've tried to use pandoc or similar to convert to/from Word it seemed to require a full read&edit because random things go wrong. If I can convince everyone tho, my plan is draft chapter in ink, type it up in pandoc markdown, edit/discuss on that and maybe HTML exports, and finally export PDF with my .sty.

I like drafting w/ pen&paper because typing text in, you get to spot many phrasing mistakes that you wouldn't catch otherwise. Or I, maybe that's a me thing, I'm terrible at editing initial drafts on screen, the text ends up contorted and extremely dry, like that of an 80yo british professor from an aristocratic background and inferiority complex...

@cadadr @greyor I've been using Scrivener to write fiction for so many years that I've settled with writing even my academic texts with it.

There are some quite complicated ways to get references and bibliographies semi-automatically from Zotero, but quite honestly they look like much more work than just doing them manually.

Other than that Scrivener is very flexible in how to format the final compilation, so I can make word-lookalikes in no time.

Well, TOC has been a problem so far...

@cadadr I'm increasingly convinced of the value of (real) pen&paper drafting. It feels inefficient, because you do of course want anything of value to eventually have an electronic form, but I think there are real advantages nevertheless.

@Stoori @greyor

@emacsomancer @cadadr @Stoori my handwriting is not great, so I avoid pen&paper wherever possible so everything is legible. But I get that, sometimes an electronic doc is difficult to navigate.


it's not just about navigation, but mental processes too. I tend to have clearer memories of things I've written down rather than initially typed (plus for things that I do end up typing up, there's then re-inforcement), but also just in terms of "thinking" and getting ideas down, *sometimes* pen&paper is easier.

I've worked on improving handwriting over time. Using a pen with freer flowing ink than a biro/ballpoint I think is ideal (at least for me) for longer writing sessions (biro is fine for quick notes), both in terms of not tiring out and just the general enjoyability of the process (I'm generally most interested in maximising the enjoyability of processes).

@cadadr @Stoori

@emacsomancer I have always heard that muscle memory &c. improves retention (taking handwritten vs typed notes), so that makes sense. Yeah, my wife is a fountain-pen enthusiast and swears by them.

I should work on that too, that might be fun. I'm still trying to teach myself Emacs, too, and move as much of my workflow there as possible.

@cadadr @Stoori

@greyor @emacsomancer @Stoori Fountain pens are lovely. They are cost-efficient and green, a nice bottle of ink will supply you for a couple years (I exclusively did everything on paper during undergrad [had a low tech episode those years] and used up ~a bottle and a half of ink). They are also pretty pleasant to write with. I am really enjoying the Jinhao X750 with medium nib for writing, Lamy Safari with fine nib for annotating and agenda, and Kaweco Sport as a (bag) pocket pen with fine nib, and love KWC inks. These stuff are cheap but high quality, nice beginner stuff.

@cadadr @Stoori so I initially wrote each chapter in separate .odt files and once it was all done, I entered it into the LaTeX template by hand. Didn't know a quicker way to do it correctly. If I'd known more LaTeX I would have started that way. LaTeX is a steep learning curve for the humanities for sure though.

I hope you don't have to do the final version in Word, that's no fun.

@greyor @Stoori Yeah, coming to humanities/soc-sci from tech has been a big advantage for me in that regard.

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