Citation management software and tools

Zotero image on a laptop screen with a printed bibliography beside it

About citation management tools—and help 

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 (Windows and Mac) or other research software
For help with citation management tools, please contact us at

Privacy notice: 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, or by using the Zotero Connector in your browser to add sources from the web. 

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

Large-scale imports from databases using the Zotero save button too frequently may be viewed as "excessive" downloading by some vendors, such as Web of Science. This will result in the IP address being block and access to the SFU community denied. Please avoid saving too many items at once. 

    Other citation management tools


    • Mendeley is a reference manager to help you organize and share your research. Mendeley is free with up to 2GB of storage. Extra storage is available for a fee.
    • Please note that due to privacy implications, the Mendeley Cite Plug-in cannot be installed in SFU's Microsoft Word environment. Zotero is compatible with SFU's Word environment. If you would like assistance migrating to Zotero, contact us at or consult these slides for step-by-step instructions
    • 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. 
    • Beginning September 1, 2022, users will no longer be able to download and install Mendeley Desktop (more info). It will be replaced by Mendeley Reference Manager.


    Please note: access to SFU RefWorks has been discontinued as of December 31, 2017, and is no longer supported.
    Questions? Contact


    Interested in learning more about citation management tools we didn't list here? See this Wikipedia article that compares citation management tools

    Comparing citation management tools

    Not sure which citation manager is right for you? We recommend Zotero, but you don't have to take our word for it - check out MIT Library compares EndNote, Zotero and Mendeley for more info. 

    One important point to note: most of the popular citation management products store your data on non-Canadian servers, which means your account information may be subject to US laws, specifically the US Patriot Act.  This act allows US authorities to access your personal information.  If you are concerned that your personal information is stored outside Canada, do not use these services. SFU Library has been unable to identify any citation management products that store data exclusively on Canadian servers. However, the following tools can be downloaded to your computer and used offline exclusively: 

    Note that there are no guarantees on the privacy of these tools, since most of them also have online functionality, and using any online features will affect the privacy of your data.

    Workshops and workshop materials

    Click here to register for an upcoming Zotero workshop.

    Citations Made Easy: Introduction to Zotero workshop materials:
    Access the slides and handout