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Drexel Library

Citation Management Tools

Comparison of software and online tools for managing research references.

What is a citation management tool?

Citation management tools are software or web/cloud-based applications that individuals or groups use to store, organize and utilize bibliographic citations.  At their core, these tools are a database of the researcher's selected citations; most provide the following functions:

  • Means of adding citations to the database, either manually or be importing citations from bibliographic databases or other sources.
  • Methods for organizing citations and/or searching within the database.
  • Integration with word processing or other document production software to incorporated properly formatted citations into scholarly writing.
  • Mechanisms for sharing citations with collaborators.

Comparison of Selected Citation Management Tools

EndNote Desktop

  • EndNote is produced by Clarivate Analytics; it is available to students, staff and faculty by site license through Drexel University IT.  Current version available is EndNote 20 for personally-owned computers (for faculty, staff and students) at; EndNote 21 is available for University-owned computers from the Software Center for Windows or the Self-service MacOS portal. Versions of EndNote are available for Windows, Mac and iPad (iOS) use.
  • Allows direct import from 500+ databases, online searching of 6000+ databases.
  • Citation library is stored locally, with unlimited reference and attachment storage; can be synced to EndNote Web (see below) for online availability and sharing of either a full library, or specific citation groups.
  • Retrieves full-text of journal articles via Libraries' linking utility; PDF, spreadsheet, graphic or document (word processor) files can be attached to citations. Attached PDFs can be annotated, highlighted and searched (full-text); citations created automatically from DOIs and other metadata.
  • Integrates with Microsoft Word and Google Docs; 6000+ predefined bibliographic formatting styles; can create customized styles.

EndNote Online

  • EndNote Online is the web-based version of EndNote, also produced by Clarivate Analytics. An account can be set up directly at or established as part of the installation process for EndNote Desktop.
  • Allows direct import from, or online search of a limited number of databases.
  • Citation library is stored online, limited to 50,000 references, 2GB attachment storage space. Citation groups can be shared with other EndNote Web users.
  • Integrates with Microsoft Word with 21 predefined bibliographic formatting styles


  • Mendeley is a combined desk-top and web program, now owned by Elsevier Publishers.
  • Mendeley requires the user to store all basic citation data on its servers—storing copies of documents is at the user's discretion. Upon registration, Mendeley provides the user with 2 GB of free web storage space, which is upgradeable at a cost.  Since its 1.19 release in 2018 Mendeley encrypts its local database using a proprietary algorithm, making it difficult for users to export their data from the application.
  • Attached PDFs can be annotated, highlighted and searched (full-text); citations created automatically from DOIs and other metadata.
  • Mendeley supports creation of bibliographies and citations in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
  • Social networking features include newsfeeds, commenting, public profiles; private groups allow collaborative tagging and annotation.
  • Guide to Mendeley Reference Manager (Elsevier)


  • Zotero is a free, open source developed by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship and the Roy Rozensweig Center for History and New Media. It combines desk-top and web-based applications.
  • Citation data and associated files can be stored locally, and can be synced to online account. Free online storage is limited to 300 MB.
  • PDFs, notes, images and other files can be attached to Zotero items; citations can be created from DOIs and other PDF metadata.
  • Zotero supports creation of bibliographies and citations in Word, LibreOffice and Google Docs, with support for 9,000 citation styles.
  • Accounts on Zotero's web application allow the creation of both public (open and closed) and private groups for collaboration.