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Citation Management Software

A guide for tools to help manage citations and build bibliographies

What is a Citation Manager?

When you write academic papers you will need to give credit to the works you have consulted to support your argument. Because academic papers often require a lot of citations, you can use a citation management tool to make keeping track of your sources easier!

Use this guide to help you get started using citation management software. The tabs above offer specific advice on using EndNote, EndNote Online, Mendeley, and Zotero, including: how to add references to specific software, how to include references in your writing, and how to generate a bibliography/works cited page.

Most Columbia databases allow you to export full citations, and sometimes PDFs, into Citation Management tools, and many citation management tools have web plugins to help capture website information. 

Zotero and Mendeley are both free softwares, and EndNote is free for all current Columbia & Barnard students. All require the creation of an account to use, and have both standalone downloadable versions as well as web versions

Things to Think About

All Citation Management tools have these basic features to help you...

  • Gather and transfer references from databases / resources / webpages into your personal research database
  • Organize, annotate, sort and search your references, images and PDFs
  • Insert in-text citations and reference lists into documents in a wide variety of styles (MLA, APA, etc)
  • Create stand alone bibliographies in a wide variety of styles

Check out the Comparison Charts to the left for each products special features!

Before you choose, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the tool support the citation style(s) that you need? i.e.: MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.
  • Does the tool support the kinds of sharing capabilities that you need?
  • Is the tool compatible with the databases and/or websites that you use the most?
  • What kinds of file formats are you collecting? Does the tool capture webpage snapshots, and does it store PDFs?
  • Does the tool allow you to work off-line or from multiple places?

‚ÄčContact your Personal Librarian for a quick demo of these products to help you make a decision!

And remember: you can always change your mind! In the meantime, you might also consider whether you will need (or want!) the same citation manager after you leave Barnard, or if you will need to use the citation manager to collaborate with internal and/or external researchers.


This guide based on one made by the Yale University Library. Template used with permission, and much gratitude!