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Eckerd College Library Research Guides: Citation Management Tools

Research guides, course guides, and useful resources compiled by your friendly EC librarians.

What is a citation manager and why should I use one?

Citation Management

What is a citation manager?

A citation manager is a tool or program that helps you collect, organize, and create citations for your research in whatever format you prefer.  See the comparison of citation managers below to help you decide which one to use for your needs.

Why would I want to use one?

If you are doing an extensive research project and want to keep track of your citations, it is a good idea to use a citation manager because all your citations are in one place where you can:  

  • organize citations by topic or assignment
  • import citations from library databases or websites
  • create a properly formatted bibliography or references page from a number of citation formats (e.g. MLA, APA, etc.)
  • link to word processing programs to easily reference citations and insert footnotes or endnotes
  • add notes for citations you have used or plan to use

They are particularly useful when you are researching an area where you know you will do further research down the road. If you plan to write many papers on a particular subject, a citation manager will keep all the information together for you.

Remind me, what are citations again?

When you write a research paper, you generally need to refer to any resources you used for information, whether these are published papers in peer-reviewed journals, websites, or interviews you conducted in person.  Citations describe what those resources are, including titles, authors, publication dates, journal titles, and other identifying information.  Citations often need to be in a particular format, such as MLA or APA.  This is dependent on the subject area or particular course that you are writing a paper for.


OneSearch is Eckerd Library's primary search tool that searches across many of our databases in a single interface.  It includes a simple citation management tool that easily saves and organizes citations you discover through OneSearch. 


  • Generate citations in MLA, APA, Chicago, and many other formats
  • Create folders to organize citations
  • Download bibliographies for citations all at once


EndNote Web

EndNote Web is a web-based citation management tool for organizing citations. 


  • Keep track of your sources
  • Keep your research together
  • Manually enter citations
  • Create an automatic reference list based on the citations you enter
  • Cite While You Write plug-in for MS Word



Zotero is a FREE citation tool that you add to your web browser, or use as a standalone application.

Key features:

  • Add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
  • Mac and PC compatible.
  • Add items from websites, library catalog and databases, PDFs, audio, video, and image files.
  • Export citations to MS Word, LibreOffice.
  • Citation styles include MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, and many others.

Resources from Zotero's Documentation page


Mendeley is another free citation management tool.  It includes an online version, desktop version, and MS Word plugin for direct citations.


  • User-friendly, standalone desktop version
  • Ability to highlight and annotate stored PDFs  


Which one do I use?

Need help deciding which citation tool to use?  The following table compares a number of excellent citation tools free to Eckerd students, faculty, and staff.  Choose the one that best fits your needs.

This is just a small subset of citation managers.  If you want to see the many, many other citation managers available out there, see this Wikipedia article.

NOTE: Automatic citation generators are a good place to get your citations properly formatted, but they are not always perfect.  Always review your citations to make sure they are consistent with recommended formats for your style.


  OneSearch EndNote Web Zotero Mendeley
Cost Free to Eckerd community Free to Eckerd community Free to all Free to all

Access online at OneSearch website. 

First time users need to create a new account.


Access online at:

First time users need to create a new account.

Go to Zotero and download browser plugin OR standalone version for free.

Create a new account to store data.  Paid version gives you more storage.

Mendeley is online or as standalone software.

Create a new account to store data.  Paid version gives you more storage.

Browser requirements Any Any Firefox add-on OR standalone version with Firefox, Chrome, and Safari extensions Web or standalone version
Access from any computer with Internet access? Yes Yes Better if setup from your own personal computer - can sync across computers Yes
Import data from library databases? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Import data from websites? No Yes Yes Yes
Manually enter data? No Yes Yes Yes
Word processing integration? No Microsoft Word Word, OpenOffice, limited Google drive Microsoft Word, LibreOffice and BibTeX
Share references? Yes, but only to view, not collaborate Yes Yes Yes
Operating system PC or Mac PC or Mac PC or Mac PC or Mac