Skip to main content


An introduction to Mendeley, the bibliographic citation program with a social media component.

Citation Programs and Software

What is citation management software?

Citation management software, also called “bibliographic software”, allows you to organize, store, and retrieve information, such as citations for books, articles, and Web sites. You can simultaneously import records and PDFs from databases. You can add abstracts, keywords and other functions that enhance and improve the efficiency of your project. The citation manager then works with word-processing software to insert properly formatted footnotes or citations into a paper and create a bibliography.

What it won't do:

It will not always create a perfect bibliography or reference list according to your favorite style. For example, you will still have to know APA, MLA, Chicago or Turabian and check over your results. It will not correct errors or omissions that were in the database from which you retrieved references. It will not always know what type of material you are putting into it from a database (e.g. it cannot always distinguish a proceeding from a book).

What are online citation builders?

These are free, online sites that allow you to quickly create citations and bibliographies but not to store information or link to word-processing software.  Please check out the list of online citation builders on the right.

How do I know which tool to use?

There is no one program that currently works best to support everyone's needs. Online citation builders are helpful when you are in a rush and have a small number of sources to manage. Citation software is more time consuming but extremely useful for handling larger. more complex citations and for its word processing compatibility. There are a variety of citation software tools available and each has its own strengths.  The AU Library provides EndNote as a free download to the AU community. The Library also offers support for Zotero and Mendeley, two other citation software tools. Please see the comparison table of citation software below. 

Citation Software Capabilities

AU Library primarily supports EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley so we will focus on comparing these three. Other popular tools include RefWorks and ProCite. EndNote Basic , formerly EndNote Web, is a sister product to EndNote, and designed to work in tandem. EndNote Basic allows you to gather and save citations through their web site (and through a browser bookmarklet), and citations can be synced with EndNote. To learn more about EndNote Basic please see our EndNote Basic (Web) subject guide here.

I Need to:



…work from multiple computers or locations.



Zotero saves your citation library to your local computer, but syncs with multiple computers so you can work from home, work, or school.

Mendeley is a program that lives on your local computer, but syncs with a web account.

…work without an Internet connection.




Zotero, Mendeley and EndNote store your citation libraries locally on your computer.

…archive web pages and import citations from sites such as Amazon, Flickr, and ArtSTOR.


Zotero allows you to easily save snapshots of web pages and annotate them within your citation library. It is a great tool for scraping citation information from web-based publications and some commercial and social networking sites.

…work on a group project or share my citations with others.

Zotero           Mendeley      EndNote Basic

Zotero allows you to share your citations through shared folders -- you can give individuals or groups permissions to add and edit the citations in the shared folder. Mendeley allows you to share citations and documents with a group of up to 2 other users, or create a public reading list that is open to all. with unusual or complex citation styles, cite unusual document types or create my own document type


EndNote has more citation styles than any other program, more flexibility, ability to customize styles. extensively with PDFs


Menedeley has better ability to extract citation information automatically from PDFs, PDF full-text search-ability, and a social networking component to see what others in your field are reading and commenting on (particularly in the sciences).

 adapted from Penn State University Libraries

Citation Manager Comparison Chart

Criteria Zotero Mendeley EndNote
Web based? Yes, works with Firefox browser and can sync with online account; connectors for Chrome and Safari available Not primarily, but can sync with an online account which is editable No, but can transfer library to EndNote Basic (Web)
Operating System Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac, Linux Windows or MAC
Cost Free for basic account, some cost for more online storage space Free for basic account, some cost for more online storage space $$, AU community may download for free through portal
Word-processor compatibility MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs MS Word, Open Office, LaTex MS Office, Open Office, iWork Pages
Mobile Device Application 3rd party iOS and Android apps, web interface iPad, iPhone, 3rd party Android apps, web interface iPad, web interface
Number of citation styles About 16 pre-loaded, "thousands" available for download from Zotero Over 1180 Top 100 downloaded, over 4000 more available
Number of import filters 247 "translators;" other sources captured as web page About 50, + COinS, + integrates with Zotero's "translators" 700+
Import from databases Yes Yes Direct export from specific databases
Import citation info from web pages Yes, also archives the page and you can add annotations Yes, with a bookmark for a limited number of sites (mostly publishers or databases) only with EndNote Basic (Web)
Storage capacity Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 100MB free Zotero file syncing (larger syncing plans available for purchase); or can use WebDav Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 1GB personal and 100MB shared online space (larger online storage plans available for purchase) Unlimited local storage
Attach associated files (PDFs, etc.) Yes, with option to attach automatically Yes, and can highlight and annotate PDFs Yes, and can highlight and annotate PDFs
Search full text of PDFs Yes Yes Yes
Duplicate detection Yes Limited Yes; fully customizable
Create group or shared libraries Yes Yes, free for up to 3 group members (larger group plans available for purchase) No but EndNote Basic (Web) can
Create bibliography with different styles Yes Yes Yes
Automatic citation extraction from PDFs Yes Yes Yes
Other features Sync library with multiple computers
Use tags to organize/search
Sync library with multiple computers
Sync with Zotero library
Insert figures and charts using word processor integration

 adapted from Penn State University Libraries