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Citation Management Software: Home

A look at some free tools to manage your information sources.


No citation software is perfect, and the citations they output are as only good as the information/metadata that you input. Be sure to always check your citations against the appropriate style guide. At SAIT, we have guides for APA, IEEE, and Vancouver.

What is Citation Software?

Citation software helps you to:

  • import citations from your favorite databases and websites.
  • build and organize bibliographies.
  • share information with others in your field
  • take notes on articles and save them in your collection of citations.
  • save and organize PDFs, screenshots, graphs, images, and other files for your research.

Which Program is Right for You?

NOTE: We highly recommend against using the citation feature in Word as it's very inaccurate and hard to format. Some instructors may teach it, so we will still support it as needed and have included information about the tool in the table below.

The Reg Erhardt Library supports Zotero and Mendeley citation software as well as the citation feature in Microsoft Word. How do you know which program is right for you? Some things to think about when you choose:

  • What programs are your colleagues using? For example, if fellow researchers are all using Zotero to share citations, you might consider Zotero so that you can share your research, too.
  • Use what you like! There is no one perfect program, so use what you're comfortable with.
  • You can use more than one software. Records can be transferred from one program to another, so don't feel limited to choosing only one.




Microsoft Word


- Simple download of records

- Good for managing a variety of formats, including web pages

- Lots of functionality in an open-source product.

- Can share citations and documents with others

- Great for managing PDFs

- Does a good job of pulling citation metadata from PDFs

- Can share citations and documents with others

- Does not require additional software or plug-ins

- Very easy to create in-text citations and bibliography


Desktop software and browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Desktop software and web-based. Works with IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Built-in tool of Microsoft Word


Free with 300MB of back-up storage. Storage & group upgrades available for a reasonable yearly fee. Open source. 

Download Zotero.

Free with 2GB of web space.


Download Mendeley.


Learning curve

Quick to learn; simple design, many online user guides and demos.

Quick to learn; Pretty simple interface.

Quick to learn

How does it work?

Zotero can tell when you are looking at an item and shows an icon for it in the browser's URL bar.  Click the icon to add the item to your Zotero references.

Export references from compatible databases. Mendeley will also retrieve metadata for pdfs that are brought in.

Manually type in citation information to create bibliography.

How simple is it to import records?

Very simple, as long as the resource is compatible with Zotero.

Very simple using the Mendeley browser plugin. However, the import doesn't work with as many databases as other products.

Cannot import.

What kinds of records can you import and organize?

Traditional formats (books, articles, patents), as well as web pages.

PDFs, web screenshots, and other file types can also be stored in the records.

Best with records for traditional formats (articles, books, etc.).

PDFs and other file types can also be stored in the records.

Cannot import.

Can you search within PDFs

Yes. Make PDFs searchable by choosing to index them in the preferences menu.

Yes. Highlights the words you are searching for.


Are records in your library viewable by others?

Yes, if you choose to share them. You can set up individual and group profiles and share records.

Yes, if you choose to share them. You can set up individual and group profiles and share records.


Can you export records?




Does it work with word processing software?

Yes. Works with Word and LibreOffice.  You can create a list of Works Cited for Google Docs.

Yes. Works with Word and LibreOffice.

Yes. Built-in tool of Microsoft Word

Does it back up your records?

Yes, if you choose to back up or sync your Zotero library. A small amount of storage is free.



Can you annotate PDFs?




Other important features

  • Can be used for collaborative work with groups
  • Will automatically attach PDFs to records if you choose
  • If you back up records, you can sync multiple computers
  • Integrated with work on web that you do
  • Very good for collaborative work
  • If you back up records, you can sync multiple computers


Does it have a mobile site or app?

Yes, a mobile site through

Yes, an app for iPhone/iPad.



Adapted  from Overview of Citation Software at MIT originally created by MIT Libraries.

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