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Citation management software and tools

Citation or reference management tools collect your journal article, book, or other document citations together in one place, and help you create properly formatted bibliographies in almost any style -- in seconds.  Citation management tools help you keep track of your sources while you work and store your references for future use and reuse.

While each citation management tool provides some unique features, all of the following tools can help you: 

  • Access and manage your sources online, all in one place
  • Import references from library databases and websites (some tools also import references from PDFs!)
  • Automatically generate bibliographies and in-text citations within Microsoft Word (some tools also work with OpenOffice and LibreOffice)
  • Share your collection of sources with others
  • Work with NVivo or other research software

SFU Library officially supports both Zotero and Mendeley.  For help, contact us at

Privacy notice: The SFU Library makes a variety of citation software and services available to you for your convenience.  Your use of these citation software and services is voluntary.  Please be advised that any information you enter on these services is stored on servers located outside of Canada.


Zotero is a free, open source tool that helps you collect, organize, cite and share your research sources.  Citations can easily be added by dragging and dropping PDFs of articles into your account.  Not sure how to get references from the SFU Library Catalogue into your Zotero Library?

Use of Zotero is free with up to 300MB of storage.  You can get additional storage by using ZotFile or purchasing additional storage.


ZotFile is a plug-in that helps you maximize your Zotero storage space by automatically saving & syncing your PDFs to a dropbox folder or a custom location on your computer (so that you're not using up all your storage space with the PDF files).  ZotFile provides features like: 

  • automatically saving & syncing your PDFs to a dropbox folder or a custom location on your computer
  • automatically renaming your PDFs (based on rules like author, year, publication name, etc.) 
  • extracting your annotations from PDFs (e.g. highlighted text or notes on the PDF) to the notes field in Zotero, so that they're searchable within Zotero


Mendeley is a reference manager to help you organize and share your research and academic social network.  Mendeley is free with up to 2GB of storage.  Extra storage is available for a fee.

Citations can be added by dragging and dropping PDFs of articles into your account.  You can use the Mendeley bookmarklet to import citations from databases and websites. Not sure how to add a reference from the SFU Library catalogue to your Mendeley Library? 

Other citation management tools



Comparing citation management tools

If you’re not sure which citation management software is best for you, check out the following comparisons:


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