Skip to main content

Reference Managers: Getting Started: Reference Managers: Getting Started

Reference management is collecting, organizing, storing and using your references to generate citations.

What Can Reference Management Do For Me?

Reference management tools/programs save you time and frustration with any writing project where you are gathering references.  They are also useful for monitoring the literature in your field of research, and they make it possible for you to easily share your research.

Reference management tools allow you to:

  • Import reference from an online database, a library catalog, and from PDFs.
  • Organize your references into a searchable database.
  • Generate lists of references to share with colleagues.
  • Create formatted bibliographies.
  • Insert citations and footnotes into documents.

 

Choosing a Reference Manager

With so many reference management programs available to us, it can be difficult to decide which one you want to use.  This chart highlights some of the features of the more popular tools.

 
Cost Free Free Free

$3/mo students


$5/mo faculty

Operating 
System
Online

Desktop software for

Windows or Mac;

can be synced with

web account

Desktop software for

Windows or Mac;

or embedded in Firefox

Online
Ease of Use Easy Easy Easy Moderate
Import Citations from Databases
Attach PDFs
Annotate PDFs
Major Citation Styles
Free Online Storage 2,000 MB 2,000 MB 300 MB n/a
Sharing Options Share groups Free for up to 3 people Create group Create shared collection
Automatically Create Citation from PDF 
Compatibility Microsoft Word Microsoft Word, Open Office Microsoft Word, Open Office, Google Docs Microsoft Word, Open Office, Pages
Best for... Ease of use, group work, use if common citation styles PDF management, academic social networking Group work, capturing different types of references (websites, etc.) PDF management, collaboration with other Papers users