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Citation Managers: Overview of Citation Managers

What are Citation Managers?

Citation Managers are software applications that help researchers harvest references from article databases, format manuscripts/citations in a variety of styles (MLA, etc.), generate bibliographies, organize a personal research database of PDFs, and share references with colleagues.

For Additional Help

Choosing a Citation Manager

Use the chart below to determine which application would work best for your research situation. (based on web pages created by Rice University's Fondren Library).

ECU LIbraries does not have a campus license to EndNote. If you have a personal subscription to EndNote and need assistance contact Katherine Rickett  or  ___________ at the Laupus Health Sciences LIbrary.

What do you want to do? Citation Managers Explanation
Just generate a bibliography quickly for an assignment


Zotero's Quick Copy function lets you drag and drop a citation from your Zotero library into the text field of any word processing document, Google doc, etc. to generate a bibliography ("works cited").
Collect a lot of web-based references and sources




Zotero's translators allow you to easily capture websites and other web resources.

Medeley's Web Importer provides for capture of website metadata and can save web page snapshots.

RefWorks RefGrab-It works with your browser to capture bibliographic information from web pages.

Work collaboratively with colleagues

Mendeley RefWorks

Zotero Groups allows you to share resources with others either privately or publicly.

Mendeley offers group functionality.

RefWorks allows you to share references, folders, or the full database.

Maintain access to your sources (i.e. beyond graduation, job change) so that you can continue to add over time

Zotero Mendeley


 Zotero is free and not tied to an institutional subsccription.

Mendeley is currently free. Recently purchased by Elsevier.

(You can convert your RefWorks account to an individual subscription. If you have access to a RefWorks subscription at your new institution you can move your account.)

Organize a large number of PDF files that you already have saved 



Each of these tools (Zotero and Mendeley) allows you to organize and index your PDF collection.  (RefWorks is developing a product called FLOW, which is expected to also allow this.)


Highlight and annotate PDF documents


Mendeley allows you to highlight, annotate and add sticky notes to PDF documents.


Cite a work within my document



With Zotero, you can reference your Zotero library to add an in-text citation using a word processor integration plugin.

I think Mendeley Desktop allows the plug-in but the free version does not -- is that the case?

RefWorks' Write N Cite accomplishes this


Remove duplicate cites




All three tools can eliminate duplicate cites
Use a tool that works on my mobile device




Zotero works with mobile devices

Mendeley Reference Manager (Lite) is available for free download at the iTunes App Store.

RefWorks RefMobile works on mobile devices


Further Comparisons

Additional detailed comparisons of citation managers are available from: