After my last post about the joys of using Papers together with Word 2008 to create nice bibliographies, I tried to actually use the thing during the writing of an actual paper. I’m sorry to say I have to agree with the answers to the previous post: the bibliography tool in Word 2008 is a sad joke.
The Papers part, I have no problem with. Right now it’s the best tool to manage a lot of scientific papers, the built-in search and organizing tools are definitely useful. But as soon as you export a bibliography to Word 2008, all hell break loose.First, something I don’t understand: when you open the Bibliography pane in Word, it’s empty. You first have to go into the “main source” and copy the references you want to use into the current document, THEN they appear into the pane. This is an unnecessary step: once in the document, you’ll have to select the references you want to use anyway. And I ended up copying the entire reference list anyway (I don’t want to have to *choose* which references I need beforehand, what’s the point of an integrated reference manager otherwise ?) — all of ~700 references.
The reason why you have to do that extra step becomes clear once you try to add a reference into the document by double-clicking on its entry in the Bibliography pane: it’s extra super-slow. My powerbook beachballed for what seemed like an eternity before the reference actually showed up. Moreover, the Bibliography pane is very small, so you don’t see a lot of details about items — if you have ten papers by the same first authors you’re out of luck telling them apart. You have to scroll within the list, vertically to find the first author and horizontally to check the publication years. There’s no built-in search. You can’t organise the references in folders, it’s just a flat list of 700 items. Switching to the Bibliography pane beachballs. All in all, finding the right reference is pretty hard, when it shouldn’t be.
I must admit that at this point I was already feeling discouraged — I couldn’t picture myself going through this ordeal for all ~30 references I wanted to add. But when I tried to create the actual bibliography inside Word, the “Insert/Document items/Bibliography” menu item was grey and inactive. I tried several things to get Word pick up the fact that I had actual references in there, but nothing worked.To sum up, a pretty disappointing experiment.That’s when I realized that all the other tools I had to manage references (Endnote, Zotero and the others) don’t work with Word 2008. Sucks. So I ended up going through all the references manually, using the “copy as reference” tool of Papers to create the bibliography.
2008, indeed. I had an easier time using latex back in 1998.
Update: Thinking about it, now that I can’t envision using Word 2008’s bibliographic tools, I don’t see any reason using it at all. No reason to wait for Microsoft getting their shit together. The copy-n-paste of references, I can do it in Pages, and I will do it faster and with better style.Bleh.