Software Explanation

On this page:
Practical Advantages | Which one? | Search for info in Sente XML web page | Download as Sente Library | Collaborate


Practical Advantages

How does bibliography software make research and writing easier?

1. The data entry is only done once -- or, with these downloadable files, is already entered and verified. The bibliography editors welcome corrections and additions.

2. Records include additional explanatory information and links to relevant online resources. You can search the bibliography by tags and fields, as explained on the Research Tool page.

3. You can use bibliography software to manage your pdfs of academic articles and make your research workflow more organized.

4. Bibliography software automatically formats footnotes and generates bibliographies. When writing using bibliography software, just insert a "citation ID" for a publication into your word processing document. When you're ready to print, all the citations are automatically formatted, in both footnotes and a bibliography, according to whatever format or style you select. And if you should need a different format, just rescan the document at a single go. If you're preparing an article for Participatio, the "Participatio footnote" field contains references pre-formatted according to the Participatio style guide. Just copy a reference from this field and paste it into your word processor and you're done; only slight manual tweaking required.

More: Reference Management Software article at Wikipedia.


Which software should I choose?

The most popular choices are:
1. Sente, Wikipedia
2. Zotero, Wikipedia
3. EndNote, Wikipedia
4. Mendeley, Wikipedia
5. BibTeX; BibDesk (Mac), manual
6. Bookends (Mac); Wikipedia.

Software descriptions:

1. Sente:

The Good: Sente bibliographies sync automatically between Macs, iPads and iPhones. We used Sente to create these bibliographies. Only the Sente library verifiably supports all of the functions as described on the Research Tools page. The other formats are citation files exported from Sente.

The Bad: Unfortunately, Sente is designed for Mac OS and iOS and is not available for other platforms and devices.

The Ugly: Nevertheless, despite the platform limitation, Sente at present still provides, in our view, the most powerful and elegant bibliographic software solution currently available, with support for tags, statuses, automatic links to Amazon and WorldCat, note taking, online database searching, flexible library sharing, and many other features. In particular, Sente's support for shared libraries, and the combination of QuickTags and statuses, facilitated development and rapid data entry, making it our choice for the initial creation of these bibliographies. And at present, our Sente libraries include custom fields not pre-set in the other formats. Therefore Sente will be the simplest choice if you have a compatible device.

2. Zotero is a modernized manager with online capabilities.

3. EndNote is the older, classic bibliographic solution. Although it is quite expensive, EndNote was recently updated and now lags less far behind Sente than it used to.

4. Mendeley is a collaborative online solution, owned by Elsevier, and designed for sharing rather than privacy.

5. BibTeX (or BibDesk for Mac) is the bibliographic companion software for LaTeX. Scholars who use LaTeX will choose this solution by default. BibTeX and BibDesk are powerful open-source solutions and may be an attractive option even for scholars not committed to LaTeX.

6. Bookends is another excellent choice for Mac users, with an iOS version as well. Many individual Sente users have switched to Bookends, although Bookends does not support shared libraries for collaborative research.

Clarification: We are Sente agnostic, and our choice of Sente is not intended as a recommendation. While in our view it remains at present the most elegant and most fully-featured bibliographic manager, the exported file formats will work with non-Sente bibliographic managers such as EndNote, Bookends, Zotero, Mendeley, Bookends or BibTeX.

Nota bene: Not all of the custom fields and tags transfer over to these software managers, however, but the basic citation information is there.

Ultimately, the core Sente functionality and more will be baked into the new drupal website we are planning for Our goals are (1) immediately, to facilitate data entry and organization with Sente, and then (2) to move to drupal website development and deployment. The Sente library is the original and complete version of the bibliographies. The other files have been exported from Sente in the EndNote or BibTeX formats, ready to import into your existing software library. Practically every bibliographic management software solution today can import bibliographies in at least one of these three formats.


Software Instructions:

From the bibliography home page, there are several ways to access the Sources bibliography: First, by downloading the Sente library. This is the most convenient and powerful option, if someone has Sente. Second, by accessing the Sente XML file with a web browser. This is gibberish, but at least supports searching. Third and fourth, by downloading exported files in EndNote and BibTeX formats, to import into bibliographic management software other than Sente. There are explanations for each of these options on this page, below.

Refer to the website of your bibliography management software for instructions and tutorials:
* Sente; Wikipedia
* Zotero, Wikipedia
* EndNote, Wikipedia
* Mendeley, Wikipedia
* BibTeX; BibDesk (Mac), and manual

EndNote, BibTeX, Zotero, etc.

If you are using software other than Sente:

(1) create one or more libraries using that software, and then

(2) download the file for the Sources and/or Studies bibliographies that were exported into that format, or a compatible format (EndNote and BibTeX formats are compatible with nearly every software platform).

(3) import each downloaded file into an existing library.

For example, if you're using Zotero, download an EndNote or BibTeX format file and then import it into a Zotero libary, etc.


Download as Sente Library

Using the Sente Library is the most powerful and convenient option, at least for now, until the bibliographies become integrated into a new Fellowship website.

1. Download and install Sente on your Mac and iOS devices: Sente download page.

2. Register for a premium account ($60): Purchase page.

3. Download the Torrance bibliographies (Sources and Studies) as Sente libraries. Move them to where you want them to reside (e.g., in your Documents folder).

4. Open them and explore!


I. Explore some of the tutorial videos for Sente. In the upper left portion of the page there is a heading called Sente Videos. Watch the following brief videos:
* Targeted Browsing
* Importing PDFs
* Reading and Annotating PDFs on the iPad
These videos will show how Sente does more than just manage citations; it is designed (1) to facilitate online research, (2) to serve as a means of organizing pdfs, and also (3) to support the annotating of pdfs -- all in a way that syncs between your devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad).

II. Download the Sente user manual from that same page. Use the manual to learn how to set up your own QuickTags, Statuses, and Hot Words; and how to drag and drop citations from one Sente library into another.

III. Go to the page which describes The Sources Bibliography as a Research Tool. Use the exercises on that page for practice. See if you can replicate the search operations and obtain the results as described.


Search for info in Sente XML web page

Sente XML web page

Some data in the master Sente library, as noted above, does not tranfer over to the EndNote and BibTeX formats. Therefore, we have prepared a Sente XML file that can be opened in a web browser. This Sente XML page displays all the data from the Sente master library. Unfortunately, it displays the field names and structure of the data in a dense and impenetrable document designed to be read by machines rather than humans. We have posted it here so that you can search for information in the master Sente library even if you don't have Sente. This is only a short-term measure; all the data will be built-in to the future website during the planned overhaul next year. Or, even now, if you choose to invest in Sente, you can download the easy-to-use Sente library (see above). Meanwhile, however, if you don't purchase Sente, try to disregard the gibberish coding, and look for field names.

Screenshot - Sente XML web page:
Sente XML web page

To discern the nuggets of information you're looking for, don't try to read the document. Rather try the following steps:

1. Search for the McGrath number or a key word in the title of the publication or the journal name.

2. Scan the code immediately above or below the found text for the Participatio Footnote or Participatio Bibliography field names. These fields will give you the citation in a form that is ready to copy to your clipboard and paste into your word processor. The "Participatio Bibliography" field may contain some information not ordinarily included in the "Footnote" field.

3. Scan the nearby code for other field names to obtain additional information:
- Sources Notes: This field includes comments about the original setting of the publication.
- Bibliography changes: This field confirms, when needed, any corrections made to information printed in the standard bibliographies ("BG" = Bryan Gray; "IT" = Iain Torrance; and "AM" = Alister McGrath). See "Development of the Sources Bibliography."
- McGrath number: Use the McGrath number of any publication to search for related publications, instead of searching by key word. See The Sources Bibliography as a Research Tool.
- Status: If the status is "Pass 5 complete" (or a higher number), then the information has been verified by a physical or digital copy. If the status is "In progress" or "Obtain copy" then the citation has only been indirectly verified by electronic databases such as OCLC or ATLA and we are still seeking a copy for direct verification.



We thank you, the members of the T. F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, for your feedback and input to maintain these bibliographies as research tools to catalyze scholarship and promote the mission of the Fellowship. Send corrections, additions and comments to the bibliography editors at We have made and are continuing to make every effort to check and verify each citation against a physical and/or digital copy of the work. Let us know if you can verify any item on our Wanted List.

Bibliography Links:

Send new materials, corrections, and comments to the bibliography editors at Also let us know if you can provide or verify any item on our Wanted List.

Thomas Forsyth Torrance


A distinctively Christian research organization devoted to the exploration, development, and dissemination of the theology of Thomas F. Torrance and other theologians contributing to this endeavor. Continued...

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