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There are a variety of citation management tools. This guide provides information about the tools on which the LETU Library can provide support:

  • Mendeley​ 
  • Zotero

Benefits of Citations Tools

Citation management tools allow you to do the following:

  • build a database of your references
  • attach articles to references so that all your research is in one place
  • store notes with references
  • search references
  • cite your sources in your paper with a touch of a button
  • automatically build your bibliography (works cited/reference list)
  • easily change your citation style if needed (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.)

Comparing Citation Management Tools

Which program is right for you?

Some things to think about when you choose a program:

  • 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 not 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.





  • Simple download of records
  • Good for managing a variety of formats, including web pages
  • Lots of functionality in an open-source product.
  • Downloads records from several databases that don't work with other citation products, including Factiva, USPTO, Espacenet, & FreePatentsOnline.
  • 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


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

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


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

Download Zotero.

Free with 2GB of web space. LETU users have access to enhanced storage and group upgrades. See our Mendeley guide for details.

Download Mendeley.

Learning curve

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

Quick to learn; Pretty simple interface.

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.

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.

What kinds of records can you import and organize (PDFs, images, etc.)?

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.

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 to other citation software?



Does it work with word processing software?

Yes. Works with Word and LibreOffice; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX. You can create a list of Works Cited for Google Docs.

Yes. Works with Word and OpenOffice; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX.

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 (highlight & make notes)?



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 There's also an app called ZotPad for iPhone/iPad.

Yes, an app for iPhone/iPad.

Link to vendor documentation