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Citing Sources: Citation Management Software

Citation format instruction for technical & scientific writing.
Citation Software

Citation management software is a tool designed to make your work easier!

There are many great features:

  • save and organize your references
  • insert and format citations within your paper
  • create a bibliography
  • search library databases
  • collaborate with others online
  • discover the latest research

This guide discusses three options:

  • EndNote - the industry standard software tool for publishing and managing bibliographies, citations and references
  • Mendeley - a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research
  • Zotero - a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research


  • You don’t have to pay for it because University Libraries has subscription. EndNote Basic is freely available to UI affiliates and EndNote Desktop is freely available to faculty, staff and graduate students.
  • If you need to download thousands of citations, EndNote is probably the best tool.
  • If you work a lot with Web of Science or PubMed, EndNote is probably the best tool since it can directly import references from Web of Science and works very well with PubMed.
  • If you need access to many different citation styles, EndNote supports thousands of citation styles and continues providing new citation styles upon request.
  • It’s easier to edit existing citation styles or create your own in EndNote.
  • Where to get?

EndNote Desktop
Endnote Basics
Pricing Free for faculty, staff and graduate students
but $113.95 for undergraduate students
Free for faculty, staff and all students
Reference Storage Unlimited 50,000
Attachment Storage Unlimited 2 GB
Bibliographic Formatting Styles 6,000+ 6,000+
Reference Sharing Yes Yes
Send references directly from online databases 500+ 500+
Search Online Resources within EndNote 6,000+ 1,800+
Formatting in Microsoft Word Yes Yes
One-click "Find Full Text" Yes No
Automatic Reference Updating Yes No
Advanced Reference Organization Yes No
  • Open EndNote library (version 20), and select the references that you would like to export to BibTeX. 
  • On the bottom right corner, expand the citation style box, click Select Another Style... And in the list that appears, choose BibTeX Export
  • From the toolbar dropdown menu, go to File and select Export, rename file name as needed, save the file as Text File, and then select the output style of BibTeX Export.  
  • When the output file is generated, make sure change the file extension of .txt to .bib 


  • Free but there are costs for upgraded storage. If you want to continue to use a citation management software after graduation, when you will no longer have access to University’s EndNote subscription.
  • If you have a huge number of PDF files in your computer that you want to import into a citation manager, Mendeley works the most smoothly for this purpose. Mendeley’s file organizer can automatically rename your PDFs and file them in a clear folder structure.
  • If you work a lot with Science Direct and Scopus, Mendeley is probably the best tool, since it can directly import references from Science Direct and Scopus.
  • Mendeley’s Web Importer allows you to import references from websites and databases into your Mendeley library with a single click. It works well with Google Scholar, IEEE Xplore and PubMed.
  • The Mendeley interface is probably the most intuitive out of the three citation managers.
  • Mendeley has social media features that enable you to share your research with a network of people, find out what citations other people are compiling in their libraries, or search Web Catalog which is Mendeley’s crowd-sourced research catalog with millions of papers.
  • Where to get? Mendeley website
  • Exporting Citations in BibTeX:
    • Select reference records you wish to export to BibTeX.
    • From the toolbar dropdown menu, go to File and then click Export.
    • On the pop-up window, choose file type BibTeX(*.bib), rename file name and save it.


  • Free but there are costs for upgraded storage. If you want to continue to use a citation management software after graduation, when you will no longer have access to University’s EndNote subscription.
  • If you are a Firefox user, Zotero works best as a Firefox extension.
  • If you want to archive webpages, Zotero allows you to capture a screenshot of the webpage as well as other data about the webpage.
  • Zotero allows you to import citations from websites such as Amazon and Flickr.
  • Where to get? Zotero website 
  • Exporting citations in BibTeX
    • Select the library you wish to export to BibTeX.
    • From the toolbar dropdown menu, go to File and then select Export Library.
    • On the pop-up window, choose format BibTeX, and then click OK.
    • Navigate to the folder where you would like to save the file, rename it and save it as BibTeX.

Feature Comparison Chart

  EndNote Mendeley Zotero
Format Web interface called EndNote Basic and desktop called EndNote Desktop, which can sync with online account Web interface and desktop, which can sync with online account Firefox extension and standalone version. Can sync with online account
Cost Web interface free to UI affiliates; desktop version free to faculty, staff, and graduate students but $113.95 for undergraduate students Free but there are costs for upgraded storage Free but there costs for upgraded storage
Where to get Download desktop version from ITS; Sign up for an web account Sign up for an account and download the desktop version​ Sign up for an account and download the Firefox extension or Standalone version
Cloud storage 2 GB storage for web interface 2 GB storage; 100 MB storage for sharing groups 300 MB storage
Platform Windows, Mac Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac, Linux
Mobile application iOS iOS and Android iOS and Android
Update Can automatically update and manually update Updated on the Mendeley server Firefox checks by default for updates of extensions
Support BibTeX export for use with LaTeX Yes Yes Yes
Import references from indexes or databases Yes; direct import from Web of Science; hundreds of import filters available for databases; from websites using Capture Reference Yes; direct import from Science Direct and Scopus; from many databases and search engines using Web Importer Yes; from databases and websites using the RIS format
Duplicate detection Yes Yes Yes
Extract citation information from PDFs Desktop version - yes, uses DOI or PubMed ID fields; Web interface version - no Yes - PDF text analyzed for information, DOI, Arxiv, PubMed, Crossref ids all used; Mendeley also uses it's own database to check citations Yes - uses DOI or ther extracted information from PDF; matches in Google Scholar
Get full-text PDFs via the Libraries' subscription Yes Yes Yes
Annotate PDFs Yes Yes No, but can sync PDFs annotated with third party software
Collaboration and sharing Yes, can share exisiting library of references with others; with web interface, can share groups of references Yes, share open, invite-only and private groups of references; private group members can annotate a shared version of the PDF Yes, share public and private groups of references
Create in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies Yes; When desktop version is installed, it will create an EndNote ribbon in Word processor; If use web interface only, Cite While You Write plugin is available for Word processor Yes; Mendeley's citation plugin is compatible with Word processor and LibreOffice Yes; Zotero's citation plugins are available for Word processor and LibreOffice
Number of citation styles 500 built-in; search 6,000+ styles by journal name or publisher 15 built-in; search 6000+ styles by name or example 18 built-in; 8000+ styles can be found
Edit or create citation styles Yes. You can also submit a request for the creation of a new citation style  Yes Yes