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Citation Management Software: Intro to Citation Managers

Introduction to Citation Managers

What are Citation or Reference Managers?

Citation management software, also known as reference management software,  bibliographic management software or citation managers, can help you manage and organize your citations and format bibliographies and footnotes in your papers.

Many different citation management tools are available - some are available for free while others are not.  Examples include Mendeley, EndNote, and Zotero. All citation managers carry out the same basic functions but specific features may vary from program to program.

Most citation management tools can help you to:

  • Import citation information from databases and library catalogs
  • Collect, organize, and annotate citations
  • Manage PDF articles
  • Generate bibliographies and format footnotes or endnotes in a variety of styles

Comparison Chart

Citation Management Tools: EndNote, Zotero & Mendeley Comparison of Basic Features and Functions

As of September 10, 2016



EndNote/EndNote Online




Education discount @ UM Bookstore. Available from $149.99/box edition for students, $199.99 for staff. Upgrade cost is $129.99. 

Free basic account (fee to upgrade)

Free basic account (fee to upgrade)


EndNote desktop: Unlimited references and file attachment storage for 2 years on Endnote Online. EndNote Online only: 50,000 in reference storage and 2GB file attachment storage. 

Free account = 300 MB of Web storage 

$20/year for 2 GB

$60/year for 6 GB,

$120/year for unlimited

Free option if setting up with free cloud computing services.

Free account = 2 GB of Web  storage ($55/year for 5 GB,

$110/year for 10 GB,

$165/year for unlimited)

Mobile Apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, smart phones

Yes, iPad App that allows PDF annotation. Can access EndNote Online on devices via browser.

Yes, created by 3rd  parties. See support/mobile for info

Yes, official iPad/iPhone and Android;  3rd party Android apps also available


Compatibility with word processing programs

Yes – for MS Word, OpenOffice (Windows), Apple Pages;  LaTex through BibTeX

Yes – for MS Word, OpenOffice; LaTex through BibTeX

Yes – for MS Word, LibreOffice; LaTex through BibTeX

Types of items that can be saved/ attached -

Book/article citations, PDFs, webpages (URLs only)

Book/article citations, PDFs, webpages (URLs + snapshots), video, images

Book/article citations, PDFs, webpages (URLs + snapshots), video, images

Tools to help capture online items

Yes, in EndNote Online – download the Capture button

Yes, with Chrome, Safari, Firefox extensions – icons shown in browser bar

Yes – download the Web Importer bookmarklet

Accessible from more than one computer

Yes, EndNote can now sync across EndNote Online and all computers where you have installed EndNote desktop x7.

Yes – Web-based and can download Zotero Standalone on multiple computers

Yes – Web-based and can download Mendeley Desktop on multiple computers 

Share your library with others

Yes,    can    share   your library with up to 14 other EndNote users in X7 or 100 users in X8.




 Many research databases offer Export options specifically for EndNote.


-Can auto-detect item types to save in Firefox or Standalone.

-Unlimited # of private or public groups.


-Free searchable online library of papers & citations.

-­Good tools for adding annotations  to PDFs.


-­Not as user-­friendly, but improving.

-­Not able to save webpage snapshots.

-­Very limited storage space w/free account.

-­Only 1 private group (3 members) w/free acct.

-­Still mainly popular in scientific communities.

Good choice if

you want to:

-­Manage a massive number of references.

-­Collaborative work and communication.

-­Work in multiple groups and freely share resources.

-­Easily save webpages + snapshots.

-­Communicate online with colleagues.

-­Work in a small group w/ good collaboration tools.




Other Comparison Charts