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Choosing a Citation Manager

Choosing a Citation Manager: Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote

The following popular citation managers provide the same basic features and functionality with some exceptions. Below are a few scenarios that might be helpful when choosing a citation manager. Once you have narrowed down the choices, the rest is personal preference. Some tips: Consult the comparison chart below for specific features. Talk to people in your department – some disciplines tend to use one tool more than others. Consult your subject librarian for a recommendation. For a more complete list of citation management options see this Comparison of reference management software article.

How to choose a Citation Manager
I Need to: Use: Why:
…work from multiple computers or locations. Zotero
Mendeley
EndNote Basic
Flow
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.
EndNote Basic is entirely web-based and can be accessed from any computer with internet access, and can sync with EndNote desktop.
Flow is entirely web-based and can be accessed from any computer with internet access.
…work without an Internet connection. Zotero
Mendeley
EndNote
Zotero, Mendeley and EndNote store your citation libraries locally on your computer.
…archive web pages and import citations from sites such as Amazon and ArtSTOR. Zotero 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
Flow
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. EndNote Basic allows you to create and share groups with other users. Flow allows you to share your citations through shared folders by inviting up to 10  individuals and giving permission to read, annotate, or modify the entries.
Citation Manager Comparison Chart
Criteria Zotero Mendeley EndNote EndNote Basic ProQuest Flow
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 Yes, with EndNote basic account Yes Yes, entirely web-based
Must be online? No No No Yes Yes
Cost Free for basic account, some cost for more online storage space Free for basic account, some cost for more online storage space $$, Student discount through computer store Free   Free when register with with PSU email address. Keep your access after graduation
Word-processor compatibility MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs MS Word, Open Office, LaTex MS Office, Open Office, iWork Pages MS Word Google Docs
Import from databases Yes Yes Direct export from specific databases Yes Yes, use RefWorks option when Flow is not listed
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) Yes, with Web Capture tool and EndNote basic account Yes, with Web Capture tool

Yes with the Save to Flow tool for your browser

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 Limited to 50,000 citations and 2 GB of attachment storage 2GB of cloud 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 Yes Yes, and can highlight and annotate PDFs
Search full text of PDFs Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Create group or shared libraries Yes Yes, free for up to 3 group members (larger group plans available for purchase)
Yes, with EndNote basic account Yes Yes
Create bibliography with different styles Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Automatic citation extraction from PDFs Yes Yes Yes No 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

 

Use tags to organize/search

Integrates with Dropbox for additional  file storage

Export references as an RIS or BibTeX file

Last updated October, 2014
For additional help contact the University Libraries’ Citation Tools Help team at: UL-CIT-TOOLS-HELP@lists.psu.edu