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. 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. Or, when writing for other journals or publishers, just insert a "citation ID" for a reference 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 later on, just rescan the document at a single go.

More: Reference Management Software article at Wikipedia.


Which software should I choose?

The most popular choices are:
1. Bookends (Mac); Wikipedia.
2. Zotero, Wikipedia
3. EndNote, Wikipedia
4. Mendeley, Wikipedia
5. BibTeX; BibDesk (Mac), manual
6. Sente, Wikipedia (obsolete as of Nov 2017)

Software descriptions:

1. Bookends:

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

The Bad: Unfortunately, Bookends is designed for Mac OS and iOS and is not available for other platforms and devices. However, Bookends offers a "Bookends server" solution which will allow online access and searching of both bibliographies as an intermediate solution, even if you don't have Bookends or use a compatible platform. We anticipate having both bibliographies available through Bookends server via the current website in December 2017. So not so bad after all.

The Ugly: Until the first week of November, 2017, Sente was our choice for the initial offline creation of these bibliographies. Sente's support for shared libraries facilitated our development work and rapid collaborative data entry. The first week of November, 2017, Sente server support vanished. Sente is no longer supported by its developer. The offline bibliography workflow has now shifted to using Bookends instead. At present, the Sente libraries included custom fields not pre-set in the other formats, but which we have re-created in Bookends. Therefore Bookends will be the simplest choice if you have a compatible device and wish to have an offline copy of our working Sources or Studies libraries.

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 Bookends 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. They would be an attractive option for scholars not committed to LaTeX even if they were not free.

Clarification: We are Bookends agnostic, and wish to support your use of any bibliographic software. Our current use of Bookends is to facilitate our offline workflow only. While in our view it is an elegant and fully-featured bibliographic manager (superior to the others listed above for our purposes), file formats exported from Bookends will work with non-Bookends bibliographic managers such as EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley, or BibTeX. In addition, access to the bibliographies using Bookends server soon will be possible through the current website without requiring purchase of any dedicated bibliographic software.

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

Ultimately, our core offline software 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 Bookends (formerly Sente), and then (2) to move to drupal website development and deployment. The Bookends library is now the original and complete version of the bibliographies. The other files were 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 formats.


Software Instructions:

From the bibliography home page, there are several ways to access the Sources bibliography: First, by downloading the offline Bookends library. This is the most convenient and powerful option, if someone has Bookends. 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 Bookends. 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:
* Bookends; Wikipedia
* Zotero, Wikipedia
* EndNote, Wikipedia
* Mendeley, Wikipedia
* BibTeX; BibDesk (Mac), and manual

EndNote, BibTeX, Zotero, etc.

If you are using software other than Bookends:

(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 Bookends Library

Using the Bookends 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 Bookends on your Mac and iOS devices: Bookends download page.

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

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

4. Open them and explore!


I. Explore some of the tutorial videos for Bookends. These videos will show how Bookends 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 notetaking and the annotating of pdfs -- all in a way that syncs between your devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad).

II. Open the Bookends user guide by opening Bookends on your computer and choosing User Guide from the Help menu.

III. Go to our web 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

This page was created in early fall 2017 when we were still using Sente instead of Bookends for offline bibliography development. It is somewhat out of date, but not terribly so. Some data in the master offline library, as noted above, does not tranfer over to the EndNote and BibTeX formats. Therefore, we prepared this 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 Bookends, you can download the easy-to-use Bookends library (see above). Meanwhile, however, if you don't purchase Bookends, 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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