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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 November 9, 2019



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 covering personal server space up to 2 GB, 100 MB Shared Library, 5 private groups with up to 25 collaborators.

Fee to upgrade storage space.



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 for info

Yes, for iOS and Android  devices available.


Compatibility with word processing programs

Yes – for MS Word, OpenOffice (Windows), Apple Pages

Yes – for MS Word, LibreOffice, Google Docs

Yes – for MS Word, LibreOffice

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 only), 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

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 100 other EndNote users in 100 users in X8 and X9. Activity feeds for shared libraries


Yes (see also, Cons)

LaTeX Features -Import and export BibTeX files.

-Import and export BibTeX files

-Automatically generate cite-keys (with additional extension)

-Import and export BibTeX files

-Automatically generate cite-keys 

-Automatically sync a BibTeX file with the reference library 

-Generate \cite commands to paste into LaTeX documents


-Integrated searches with PubMed, Web of Science, and possibly other databases

-Can manage large-scale projects.

-Activity feed of the group

-HIghlighting & annotating tools for PDF's

-Can auto-detect item types to save in Z Standalone.

-Unlimited # of private or public groups.

-Can add additional features with third-party plug-in's

-Free account up to 2GB

-Free searchable online library of papers & citations.

-­PDF reader with annotating and highlighting features.


-­Not free

-More difficult to learn

-­Very limited storage space w/free account if you want to store PDF's on Z server

-Although relatively easy to use it still takes some time to learn the software

-Some limitation for private group creation and participation for users with a free account:

-- Although relatively easy to use it still takes some time to learn the software.

Good choice if

you want to:

-­Manage thousands of references.

-Easily find/replace duplicates across libraries

-­Work in multiple groups and freely share resources.

-­Creates nice work integration with the browser and Z Standalone

-Share and publicize your scholarly work.

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




Other Comparison Charts