Citation management software and tools

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

For assistance, send a message to the Citation Managers Team at

About citation management tools

Citation 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, most can help you: 

  • Access and manage your sources online, all in one place
  • Import references from websites, Library databases, and the Library Catalogue
  • Automatically generate bibliographies and in-text citations within Microsoft Word (some tools also work with Google Docs, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice)
  • Share collections of sources with others
  • Work with NVivo (Windows and Mac) or other research software

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 sources. Citations can easily be added by dragging and dropping PDFs of articles into your account, manually entering references, or by using the Zotero Connector in your browser. Use of Zotero is not dependent any affiliation with SFU—you will be able to continue using it after you graduate.

Use of Zotero is free with up to 300MB of storage, which is enough for most users. You can add more 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. 

Learn to use Zotero: Library workshop registration, materials, and recordings

Click here to register for an upcoming online or in-person Zotero workshop.

 Workshop materials

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

 Watch a recorded Zotero workshop

Unable to attend a Zotero workshop or pressed for time?

We have split our hands-on Citations Made Easy: Introduction to Zotero workshop into two recordings. These recordings will arm you with all you need to know to start using Zotero today. Please note that it's important to watch both parts of the workshop in order to harness all the power of Zotero!

Watch the videos now (2 videos, 20 minutes and 15 minutes)

Citations Made Easy: Introduction to Zotero (Part 1 & 2)

Covered in this 20 minute video:

  • ​What Zotero is (and why SFU Library recommends it)​
  • Important terms to understand ​
  • A tour of the Zotero interface
  • Four ways to add items your Zotero Library
  • Hands-on practice adding items to your Zotero Library

Citations Made Easy: Introduction to Zotero (Part 3 & 4)

Covered in this 15 minute video:

  • Citation using Zotero and the word processor plugin
  • ​How to create In-text citations and reference lists—in seconds
  • Hands-on practice using the plugin​ ​
  • Organizing your library​
  • Other features to be aware of


Other citation management tools

  • Mendeley is a citation management tool that helps you organize and share references. 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 Web Importer 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 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.
  • To import a Mendeley library into Zotero, follow these directions or consult the step-by-step instructions on these slides
  • EndNote Basic is a free web-based service used to store references and create bibliographies, and it offers up to 2GB of storage. Login or sign up here
  • EndNote 21 is available for a fee and comes with advanced features, like importing citations from PDFs and annotating PDFs.
  • You can use an Endnote connection file to search SFU Library's book catalogue, and configure the Endnote OpenURL setting to easily locate the SFU Library's full-text links.
  • To import an Endnote library into Zotero, follow these directions

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

Comparing citation management tools

Not sure which citation management tool is right for you? We recommend Zotero, but you don't have to take our word for it—check out MIT Library's Zotero and Mendeley comparison chart for more information. You can also consult this Wikipedia article that compares citation management tools

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 with regard to 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.