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Manage Citations with Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote

Provides guidance on how to use choose a citation management program and how-to use various citation management programs.

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- ScholarSpace -

What is citation management software?

Citation management software helps you:

  • organize references, PDFs, and images
  • take notes on references and PDFs
  • format bibliographies and in-text citations in hundreds of citations styles
  • share references and collaborate on projects with colleagues

This guide only covers citation software supported by the library: Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote. When deciding which one to use consider your research habits, word processing, and collaboration/sharing needs. These programs can work with each other and some people may need to use more than one throughout their academic career.

Which citation management software should I use?


  • Free to download from
  • Install standalone program locally; install web connector and MS Word plugin; create free online account
  • Provides syncing of local database with online account
  • Easy to use
  • Web browser plugin provides one-click capture of citations to articles, books, web pages, etc
  • Best choice for capturing web-based and other non-standard sources (i.e., non-journal or book)
  • Well supported
  • Excellent integration with MS Word and LibreOffice
  • Also features integration with Google Docs 
  • Also has a related tool, ZoteroBib, available, a simple easy to use web site for generating properly styled citations with no additional software, similar to web sites like EasyBib or Citation Machine.   Available at
  • Provides support for over 9000 bibliographic styles
  • Provides free online storage and syncing up to 300Mb; more available for a fee
  • Collaboration:  create an unlimited number of both private and public online groups to share citations and PDFs; you can access and manage those groups both online and in the standalone desktop version
  • Available in versions for Mac, Windows, and Linux



  • Not free, unless your unit or school provides you with a license (for example, LS&A does)
  • EndNote X9 for both Mac and Windows available for purchase at the Computer Showcase (;  $249 for faculty and staff, $125 for students
  • Standalone program installed locally;  can also create and sync with free online account (EndNote Basic) 
  • Provides syncing of local database with online account
  • The most powerful and full-featured citation manager;  also the most complex to learn and use
  • Well supported
  • The most powerful and flexible integration with MS Word
  • Has the most features for working with very long documents (e.g., books, dissertations, etc)
  • Ability to directly import PDF files and annotate them
  • Provides support for over 7000 bibliographic styles
  • Provides unlimited online storage for users of the desktop software
  • Collaboration:  Share your library with up to 100 other EndNote Desktop users;  can also share private groups on EndNote Basic
  • Available in versions for Mac and Windows



  • Free to download from
  • Provides syncing of local database with online account
  • Provides support for over 1000 bibliographic styles
  • Support from the publisher has been inconsistent
  • Excellent integration with MS Word
  • Has the best tools for direct import of PDF files and has the ability to annotate PDF files directly
  • Includes access to a large network or “social media” of other Mendeley users, including the ability to search for and share citations collectively
  • The free, non-premium Mendeley account provides up to 2Gb of online storage and up to 5 private groups of up to 25 members
  • Available in versions for Mac, Windows, and Linux


Here are some other sites that compare citation manager features:

Citation Management Options (University of Michigan)

PIM Citation Tool Comparison Chart (University of Minnesota)

Comparison of reference management software (Wikipedia, very detailed and many programs)

You may also get personal assistance in choosing a new citation manager from ScholarSpace staff, either via email or by an in-person consultation.


Where to acquire software:

If you want information about where to find and how to install these  programs:
For Zotero, go to the Zotero guide linked to on the sidebar under the Zotero link

For Mendeley, you can download and install it by following the link here
To create a free EndNote Basic account, go here
The full version of EndNote that you would install on your computer is not free software.  You can purchase it from the Computer Showcase in either Shapiro or the Duderstadt Center;  more info here, or see these pages for purchase info:

EndNote Mac Student

EndNote Mac Faculty/Staff

EndNote Windows Student

EndNote Windows Faculty/Staff

You may also wish to check to see if your school or department will provide you with an EndNote license.  Some units on campus provide software for their affiliates.  For example, LS&A provides EndNote licenses for LS&A faculty and students;  move information on that is here.