Which reference management software should I use?

Last changed: 08 June 2017
Forestry students conducts field measurements

Reference management software aid you in collecting and organizing references, to read and take notes in PDFs and to create correct citations in text and reference lists in different citation styles. They also provide ways to share references within a group of people and to collaborate on manuscripts. SLU has a campus licence for EndNote, but there are a lot of different programs to choose from.

When you are writing a longer paper you often collect a large number of references to books, scientific articles and other types of publications. Reference management software makes it easier for you to collect and organize your different resources. These applications also allow you to create automated reference lists and insert citations directly into your Word document (or document form another word processor).

EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero?

Three major reference management softwares are EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero. They all work well for reference management, although EndNote does have more options for organizing the reference library and for inserting references into text. The biggest difference is that Mendeley and Zotero are cloud based, while EndNote is an installed program on a specific computer, which also stores the references. For Mendeley and Zotero this means a limitation to storage space, but it also means that it is easier to synchronise references on several computers or mobile units. 

The table below gives an overview of the three different software. 


  EndNote Mendeley Zotero
Cost SLU campus
Free to a certain extent Free, open
Win, Mac Win, Mac, 
Win, Mac,
Installations Desktop (one computer),
EndNote web 
Desktop (multiple
computers), web, mobile
Desktop (multiple
computers), Firefox
extension, web

Locally on computer

2 GB cloud service 300 MB cloud service
Word processors Word, Open office,
LibreOffice, Pages 
Word, Open office,
Latex, LibreOffice,
Word, Open office,
Latex, LibreOffice, 
Apps (official) iOS iOS & Android  (3rd part iOS & Android)
Yes Yes Yes
Citation styles > 6000  > 7000 (CSL/open
> 7000 (CSL/open

Share entire libraries
(15 pers. max),
traveling  library

Share groups of files
and references 
Share groups of files
and references 

Page editor: bib-webbredaktionen@slu.se