Your experience with Mellel (or plus Bookends)?

Hi folks,

This is the very first topic I created in this forum. Nice to meet you guys;-) Hope you all are doing well.

So, when I searched for a good reference manager, I noticed Bookends. And some posts in this forum already talked about it. :point_down:

I also noticed that this reference manager had a close connection with a word processor, called Mellel. They seem to cooperate well. But I haven’t found any specific topic that talks about this. Bear with me if I missed some…

So, I would like to hear your voice about these two softwares if you are using them by chance. Or you can comment one of them.

By the way, I currently use MS Word plus Zotero. I like the real-time synchrony function of MS Word but it crashes very often. Zotero is an open source reference manager, so far so good except for the unattractive interface.

Stay safe!



Welcome to the forum!

What kind of writing do you do?

Hi John,

Thanks! It’s for my doctoral dissertation. As my research area doesn’t use formulas or weird characters, so LaTex won’t be necessary.

Disclaimer – no experience with either. However the Bookends site says it can be used with numerous word processors they list. That said, Melel’s claim to fame is multi-language support, especially handling right-to-left as well as left-to-right languages. If you don’t need that, have a look at Nisus Writer Pro as well. Both of these have long histories with Macs. I’ve used Nisus for final formatting of printed books several hundred pages long which it handles easily and quickly. (Writing originally done in Scrivener.) Historically I’ve had bad luck with MS Word and long documents, going back 30 years.


I use Mellel and Bookends together, and that combination works really well. Very tight integration with keyboard shortcuts flying from one app to the other, making it exceptionally expedient to insert references on the go without interrupting one’s workflow. I finished a (second) master’s degree about a year ago and used Mellel / Bookends for all submissions in the later half. No flaws, no hassle, just writing.
Also the support from Bookends is excellent. I’ve had a couple of questions and Jon from Sonny Software was exceptionally responsive on both occasions.
I think Bookends support the major US reference styles out of the box. I was able to adopt it to Oscola (Oxford) with no hassle.
tomalmy recommends Nisus Writer Pro, which I agree, is also a great product. I personally prefer Mellel when it comes to working with references – I think the integration between Mellel and Bookends is more tight and more bi-directional. But that may be me having used Mellel more than Nisus Writer.

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Thank you @ryrasmussen and for sharing your experience with Mellel and Bookends. I would like to give them a try.

Hi, thanks for your input to this discussion. I will check out Nisus Writer Pro. It’s the first time I heard of it.

Hey there. As someone who often procrastinates on big projects by changing the apps that I use, are there problems with your current work flow that you cannot address?

I work in academics and am stuck with Word as it is what pretty much all of my collaborators use. I als switched to Zotero from Papers a year ago as Papers stopped working well and was going to require a subscription.

I ask because new shiny tools look appealing and exciting, but you lose a certain amount of time trying them.

I’ve written a “Papers to Bookends” export script which should help trying out Bookends when you’re coming from Papers. While that’s probably too late for you, Craig, I’m mentioning it again in the hope that other people looking to move from Papers to Bookends may find this helpful:

Bookends is robust, and has indeed world-class support. Plus, as mentioned in the above linked thread, Bookends features extensive scripting support which opens up great opportunities for integration with other apps, and further helps to avoid any kind of lock-in…

So, IMO Bookends is definitely worth trying out. I’m also using Nisus Writer Pro and I can recommend it as well.


Thanks for your input on this! @msteffens

I have the the same concern as yours. The learning curve (cost vs. output) of new software makes me a bit hesitated. I already wrote more than ten thousands words in MS Word with Zotero references inserted. I don’t know how to or if it is worthy to migrate the current work to new software or platform.

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Let’s be real. For the average user all of these tools can do all of the same stuff.

Pleasure and easy of use are important and can make your dissertation easier BUT it’s always worth making sure you have truly mastered your existing tools.

When examining these issues, I struggle to differentiate between what it actually moving my priorities forward, and what is just churn


I agree with you, Craig.

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However - Word has caused me a lot of grief, and I only use it under duress.

If you choose to use Word, end each sentence with a period, then press Cmd+s (Ctrl+s).


Overall, Mellel is a fine software. That said, there are some things that annoy the s.*t out of me.

The portuguese version translation of the software is a joke. Seriously. It is mistranslated to the point that it is unusable. I wrote them about this, almost a year ago, making a few corrections and suggesting that if they were unwilling to correct them, they should remove this version altogether. They neither corrected nor removed it.

Also, they proliferation of styles in the palette is mind boggling.

I can’t say much about Nisus, since I haven’t used it much.

MS Word, on the other hand, appears to be the best option (as much as it hurts for me to say this). Pages isn’t bad either.

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I used Zotero and moved to Bookends. I like to see formats. I format most of my citations myself anyway. There is a non-IT point though that I have to make. There is way too much citation going on. I am in a position to push back against that now. You won’t be. So I could actually do all my citations by ‘hand’ as it were and do, very often as footnotes only.
One needs a dedicated bibliography program though whatever one does I have found. I keep everything in DEVONthink 3 though and I don’t link to Bookends or anything like that but don’t keep any attachments in Bookends.

I use LaTeX: out of LOVE :grin: though, like others here, I no longer use ‘weird’ symbols.
I find Mellel and Bookends to be nice programs. I can’t really tell you why exactly. I write a lot in Markdown anyway now.