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Citation Management: Overview

Options for Citation Management

All Citation Management Software allow you to collect, organize, and format citations but there are important differences among the different types.

Which citation management tool is right for you? Here is a summary - see also the full comparison chart.


  1. RefWorks is web-based for easy access from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. Importing from databases is typically easy and many databases have a direct export option. Additionally, RefWorks provides the Write-N-Cite plugin so you can cite references from your RefWorks library in MS Word while you write. RefShare allows you to share citations with research partners or the public.
  2. Zotero is a very easy-to-use open source tool. The program lives right in your Firefox browser! Using Zotero, it is especially easy to capture and save citations found on webpages, and to add notes and other information to saved citations for efficient and creative organization. Zotero also offers a plugin for MS Word so you can cite while you write. The downside is you are not able to edit citation styles.
  3. EndNote is a very sophisticated citation manager that offers the largest number of citation formats and options. It offers a plugin for MS Word so you can cite while you write. You can share citations. The downside is EndNote is not free, is limited to one computer, and is fairly expensive.
  4. EndNote Basic is web-based and is a simplified version of EndNote.  It has the ability to work in tandem with EndNote, as well as be a stand-alone system.  It has a 50,000 citation limit, and less citation styles than EndNote itself.
  5. Mendeley is web-based and has the ability to add citations in MS Word.  Has a cool drag-n-drop feature with pdf attachments and allows you to share your citations in a social network. The downside is you are not able to edit citation styles. While we do not teach Mendeley, it is a popular and available system. 

What is a Citation?

What is a citation? A citation....

  • describes a book, journal article, website, or other published item
  • gives credit to the originator of an idea, thus preventing plagiarism
  • enables the reader to retrieve the item you refer to
  • includes the author, title, source (publisher and place of publication or URL), and date

A citation manager is a tool which helps you to store, organize and output your citations in the format you prefer.

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