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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 Mar 23, 2023.

Tool/Criteria EndNote/EndNote Online Zotero Mendeley
Cost Education discount @UM Bookstore. $159.99 (student), $199.99 (faculty/staff) 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.
Storage EndNote desktop: Unlimited references and file attachment storage for 2 person 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.
Citation/bibliography Compatibility with word processing programs Yes - for MS Word, OpenOffice (Windows), Apple Pages, Google Docs Yes - for MS Word, LibreOffice, Google Docs Yes - for MS Word
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 in X8 and X9. Activity feeds for shared libraries Yes 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
Pros - 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 Zotero 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.
Cons - Not free
- More difficult to learn
- Very limited storage space w/free account if you want to store PDF's on Zotero server
- Although relatively easy to use it still takes some time to learn the software
- Some limitations 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 Zotero Standalone
- Share and publicize your scholarly work.
- Work in a small group w/ good collaboration tools.

Other Comparison Charts

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