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Citation Managers

This guide outlines a variety of citation management tools to help you track and organize resources and create citations and reference pages.

About Citation Managers

Citation managers are programs that collect records or citations from research databases and websites that you then organize for your research projects. They help you cite your research by creating bibliographies, citations, and footnotes automatically. Many citation managers also allow you to share references so you can collaborate with colleagues and your professors more easily.

Summary: Citation managers help you stay organized, prevent transcription or typographical errors, simplify citing and creating bibliographies, and facilitate collaboration.

The tabs on this page provide information about some of the top citation managers available, but there are others besides these. If you would like to explore them, contact the library and we can help you find additional options.

How to Choose a Citation Manager

There are many citation managers out there and no one program is best. Each have their strengths and limitations; the best one is the one that most closely meets the needs of each individual researcher. Review the strengths, limitations, and costs of the various programs in this guide or through your own reviews online to help you choose. All have strengths and weaknesses, but all offer similar basic features:

  • Export a batch of references from a database
  • Organize references in folders 
  • Share citations with research groups
  • Create a bibliography of citations in a variety of styles
  • Add a word processor plug-in that allows citation while you write on the document

Here are questions to consider when choosing:

  • Is it free?
  • Will I have enough space for storage? If not, how much does additional storage cost?
  • Can I install it on the computer I use?
  • Can I access it across all the devices I, mobile device, etc.?
  • What is the level of collaboration? Can I share citations and folders with others? How easy or difficult is it to share?
  • What are the PDF features (annotate, search full text)?
  • Is it easy to export files from the library databases I use?
  • What sort of files can be imported? (.ris, .bib, etc.)
  • Does it support the citation style I need?
  • Does the software allow me to edit all the data fields I want?
  • Is it easy to learn and use?
  • Is it glitchy?
  • Do I like the look and feel of the interface?

Comparison Charts Online

Other colleges and universities have published excellent charts to help you compare citation managers. These are helpful resources but keep in mind that some of the content may be specific to each individual institution and the citation managers they offer. Some links in the content may be unique only to those institutions, too. Also included is a link to Wikipedia's popular comparison chart.