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What's the best citation management software for me?

So how do you pick the best citation management software for you? There are many factors to consider. For example, if you are an undergraduate student, you might be looking for the fastest and easiest optionsomething with a short learning curve, which lets you grab citations and produce bibliographies in a snap. Oh, and let's not forget: it needs to be free or cheap.

If you're a graduate student or a faculty member, you might have different considerations: the software needs to work well with the databases you use frequently, it must be able to organize and filter a large number of citations, and it should be able to produce a bibliography in the primary style used in your discipline. If you're working on a research team, you'll also want to make sure the software allows you to collaborate with your colleagues smoothly.

We've put together a comparison chart below to help you examine the different features available and figure out the best option for you.

** Files can usually be saved and imported into a different citation management program quite easily. **


Comparison of features





EndNote Basic (Web-only)

EndNote Desktop (X8)

Reference Manager


What does it look like?

Video tutorials

Video tour

Video tutorials

Overview video

Video training

Training videos

How much does it cost?

Free while at U of T

Can migrate the account to another insitution

Free and open source Free for everyone Free

Current U of T and UHN Students and Staff with  TCard  or UHN ID may purchase  Single License for personal or departmental use

15% discount off purchase price until 31 Dec 17. 


$90 for U of T community    
How do I get it?

Create or log into account

Group code for off-campus access

Downloads available upon logging in, under Tools menu

Create account


Create account

Download desktop client

Install Web Importer

Install Word plugin: Windows or Mac

Call 1 800 336 4474 ext 1767 or send an email directly to using

discount code LIBRARY.

This discount is not available at the U of T Bookstores or any other Bookstore.

Purchase from UofT Bookstore    
How does it work? 

Web-based interface accessible anywhere


Plugin for Firefox or desktop client which can be linked to Chrome or Safari

Backup & sync via web-based account accessible anywhere

Desktop client (Win / Mac / Linux)

Web-based interface. Register through Web of Science.  Accessible anywhere.

or download the Free software for a 30 day trial - includes all of the features

Desktop client (Win/Mac)

Desktop client (Win)

Will it work on my computer?


RefGrab-It plugin or bookmarklet for IE & Firefox

Write-N-Cite plugin for Word (Win/Mac)


Plugin for Word (Win/Mac), OpenOffice, & LibreOffice (Win/Mac/Linux)


Also works with Google Docs



Web Importer bookmarklet for most browsers


Plugin for Word (Win/Mac) and OpenOffice (Win/Mac/Linux)



Web Capture bookmarklet for most browsers or Firefox add-on


Cite While You Write plugin for Word (Win/Mac)



Cite While You Write plugin for Word (Win/Mac), OpenOffice (Win), & Pages (Mac)


See full system requirements here



Cite While You Write plugin for Word (Win)


See full system requirements here


Can I use it on my mobile device?

RefMobile website (free)

Third party apps for iOS & Android (various prices)

iOS app (free) 

iPad app (Free)

iPad app (Free)


Can I save citations while I browse?

Yes: direct export from many popular databases, manual import using RIS/BiBTeX, or grab citations from some websites using RefGrab-It plugin/bookmarklet 

Yes: browser plugin grabs citations from many popular databases, manual import using RIS/BiBTeX

Yes: grab citations from popular databases using Web Importer

Yes: direct export from some databases, manual import using RIS

Yes: direct export from some databases, manual import using ENL / RIS

Yes: manual import using RIS

Can I search external databases?


Limited: ISBN, DOI, or PMID lookup

No (coming soon)




Can I attach PDFs or other files? Yes Yes: can automatically grab PDFs with citations, can add notes and other attachments, can retrieve citation data for PDFs, can archive web pages Yes: can organize and annotate PDFs, can retrieve citation data for PDFs No Yes: System Find Full Text embeds PDFs to your citations where available. Yes: can attach PDFs and other files    
Can I run a full text search on my account?







What citation styles are available? 3,000+ output styles 2,800+ citation styles (CSL) 2,800+ citation styles (CSL) 3,400+ output styles 5,000+ output styles 1,300+ output styles    

Can I collaborate with others?

Yes: can share folders publicly or privately with RefShare, can share account to collaborate on papers Yes: can share references through public or private group libraries Yes: can share references through public or private groups Yes: can share references privately via groups Yes: share references with or without PDFs. Limited: can export and share reference list, can collaborate with others using "traveling library" feature    

Can I use it after I leave UofT?

Contact UofT's RefWorks admin Christina Tooulias-Santolin for more info

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes    
Where can I find more help?    

But wait... there's still more!

Other alternatives

While we've included the most popular examples on the table above, there are plenty more options out there. Some other options you might want to consider:

Check out another great Comparison chart of reference management software on Wikipedia for even more suggestions.

Online citation generators

Did you know there are online citation generators that let you create citations and bibliographies on the fly? These generators usually only offer a few citation styles and features, but if you're writing something short they just might do the trick:

Please note: online citation generators are usually less accurate and reliable than citation management software that has been vetted by many users. Always check your work before submitting it anywhere!