Manage Citations with Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote: Home

This guide provides an overview of citation management tools, as well as citation generators.

What is a Citation Management Tool?

Citation management software allows you to download citations and articles from various websites and databases, electronically store and organize the citations, annotate and highlight articles, and format the citations for your paper and bibliography. Citation management software also makes it easy to share references with other researchers. 

This guide provides information about the three most common examples of citation management software: Zotero; Mendeley; EndNote.
Each has strengths and weakness, and this guide is designed to assist researchers in choosing which software to utilize.
In addition to this guide, the PSU library provides workshops relating to Zotero.

Video: What are Citation Managers?

This video describes how citation managers like Zotero and Mendeley can help you with your research by organizing your citations, research articles, and references.

About Zotero and Mendeley

Features Shared Between Zotero and Mendeley

Free to Use - Zotero and Mendeley are both free for anyone and you only have to pay if you exceed your free storage limit (300 MB for Zotero, 2 GB for Mendeley).

Capture, save and add value to citations - Capture snapshots of web pages, library catalog and database searches, and to export PDF articles. You can add value to your research by adding notes and annotations, or by attaching related files (Word, PDF, PPT, etc.) to your citations.

Collaborative tools - Share your citations and collaborate with other researchers publicly, and both Zotero and Mendeley have the ability to create private groups (unlimited in Zotero, limited to 1 group with 3 people in Mendeley).

Applications to take your research with you - Zotero and Mendeley have desktop applications, browser extensions, and mobile applications. They also have word processor plugins that allow you to create dynamic citations and bibliographies that can update if needed. Finally, Zotero and Mendeley will be available to you even after you leave PSU.

Comparing Zotero and Mendeley

Differences between Zotero and Mendeley

Advantages to Using Zotero

  • More customization features than Mendeley
  • ​Third-party plugins and frequent updates
  • Significantly more support for users with screen readers
  • Plugins for more major word processors (including Google Docs, OpenOffice, and NeoOffice in addition to Microsoft Word and LibreOffice)
  • More highlighting and annotation features (with changes made directly to the PDF file)
  • More organization features with more nesting folder options; and unlimited private groups for no added cost
  • Unlimited groups

Disadvantages to Using Zotero

  • Less free cloud storage (300 MB, or about 100 articles)
  • Clunkier user interface
  • Lacks support for Internet Explorer

Advantages to Using Mendeley

  • The web and desktop application have a slick interface that is great for people who are not as computer-savvy
  • Mendeley is available in almost anything, including a Chrome web extension, bookmarklets for other browsers, and a mobile app
  • Search tools based on what you have already added to your working citation library
  • More free cloud storage than Zotero (up to 2 GB or nearly 700 articles)

Disadvantages to Using Mendeley

  • Cannot correctly cite government publications
  • Does not support Google Docs
  • Annotations that are made in Mendeley do not export with your PDF files
  • No accessibility features or screen reader compatibility of its own (although it does allow system ease of access features like magnification and high contrast text).

Video: Zotero vs. Mendeley

This video compares the differences between Zotero and Mendeley, two citation managers recommended for researchers at Portland State.

Citation management software vs. citation generators

If you only need a quick citation for a bibliography, you may benefit from a citation generator. Citation generators take information that you input about your resource (e.g. journal article, web page, book) and format it into a citation, which you may then able to copy and paste into your document. Citation generators normally support only a few citation styles and you need to input your citation information manually. They are useful if you need a quick citation and you do not need the more robust features in citation management software.

There are many free citation generators available and you should never have to pay for one. For more information on citation generators, visit the citation generator page.


Zotero and EndNote both have accessibility features, including screen reader compatibility, customizable keyboard configurations, and support either from the community of developers or from the company.

Zotero will work with in tandem with accessibility web extensions you already have installed, and has additional 3rd party plugins available for further customization. Not all Zotero browser extensions and plugins work with screen readers

Mendeley is neither accessible to screen readers nor ADA compliant.

EndNote is ADA compliant. More information can be found on the EndNote website.

How to Use Citation Management Software in the Computer Labs

Citation management software (including Zotero, Mendeley and EndNote) is not installed on computers in PSU’s computer labs.

What you can do from the labs:

  • Log into the web version of ZoteroMendeley, or EndNote
  • Install the browser plugins/extensions to save citations for your Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote account.
  • Install Zotero desktop application on the lab computers and sync it your account
  • Install the Mendeley Chrome extension
  • Install the EndNote Firefox extension
  • Copy and paste static citations from Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote into your word processor

What you cannot do in the labs:

  • Install the Mendeley or EndNote desktop applications
  • Install word processor plugins for citation management software


Special thanks to Ohio University Library, University of Minnesota Library, and Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Library. These institutions made their instructional videos and resources available under the Creative Commons license and allowed us to re-use them here at PSU. Thanks to Adele Larson, who drafted this guide.