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Citation Style Guides: Comparing citation managers

The Basics


EndNote basic

Mendeley Zotero
Price $205 from Shop USask Free Free (cost to upgrade storage) Free (cost to upgrade storage)
Free web storage unlimited 50,000 references
and 2 GB of attachments
2 GB 300 MB
Web App? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop App? Yes No Yes Yes
Mobile App? Yes Yes No Yes
Organizes PDFs, docs Yes Yes Yes Yes
Plug-in for MS Word Yes Yes (limited) Yes (see instructions) Yes
Web plug-ins Yes Yes Yes Yes
Annotate & highlight PDFs Yes No Yes No
Syncs across platforms Yes No Yes Yes
Full-text search for attached pdfs? Yes No Yes Yes
Citation Styles 6000+ 21 8000+ 8000+
Spell Check Yes No No No
Advanced Search Yes Yes No Yes
Private (invite-only) groups Yes Yes Yes (up to 5) Yes
Public groups No No Yes Yes
Social Networking No No Yes Yes
Pulls citation info from PDFs Yes No Yes Yes
Create references from DOIs Yes No Yes Yes

*Please let us know if you come across any updates to this information.

Comparing features

I want to... We Recommend: Why?
Work on more than one computer or device

EndNote Online



All of these tools are web-based. As long as you're connected to the Internet, you're good to go.
Work offline sometimes



These tools save to your computer and you always have access to your library.
Save and work with images & websites



Zotero has a snapshot feature that lets you cite these alternate formats and other grey literature.
Manage a large volume of citations



EndNote has no storage limit, and Mendeley provides 2 GB with the free subscription: plenty of space for your files and citations.

Frequently asked questions

What is a citation manager?

Citation management software (aka reference or bibliographic management software) helps manage and organize citations for bibliographies and citations in your papers. There are many different options out there--some free and some for a fee. Examples include EndNoteEndNote basicMendeley, and Zotero. All of these options have the same basic functions, but also have their own unique quirks and features. The basic features you should expect to see are:

  • Import citation information
  • Collect, organize, & annotate citations
  • Manage PDF files
  • Generate bibliographies and format footnotes or inline citations in a variety of styles

How do I pick a new citation manager?

We recommend checking out the features of Mendeley, Zotero, and EndNote and deciding which features are most important for your research. Try talking to others in your department to see what they use, and take advantage of online tutorials. 

I don't need a complex citation manager. Are there other products I could use for simple citations?

You bet! Try out any of these free online tools:

I have more questions! Who should I contact?

We are here to answer any of your questions about citation managers!

Workshop recordings

The University Library offers introductory workshops on citation managers throughout the academic year. View recordings of past workshops to find out more about the different citation managers. 

Pros and cons


Pros: Very robust, many research databases offer export options specifically for EndNote

Cons: Not as user friendly, not able to save webpage snapshots, complex to learn

Good choice if: you have a large number of citations to manage, and you need to work collaboratively with a group

Comparing EndNote & EndNote basic? Want to learn more?


Pros: User-friendly, good tools for annotating PDFs, free searchable online library of papers & citations

Cons: Only 1 private group with the free account

Good choice if: you want to work in a small group with good collaboration tools, want to communicate online with colleagues


Pros: User-friendly, can auto-detect item types, unlimited # of private or public groups, easily saves webpages

Cons: Very limited storage space with the free account

Good choice if: you want to work in multiple groups and freely share resources, you need to save webpages and snapshots