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Reference managers and tools: Home


This page provides a quick introduction to reference managers.

Referencing tools

Referencing tools are online tools designed to help you easily create references. You will need to check that the references generated in this way are consistent with your referencing style, as inconsistencies are frequent.

Library Search
Save and Manage records in Library Search, and export to other referencing tools. Also, you can use the citation feature to generate a reference - you will find this under the 'send to' menu when viewing the complete information about any book or journal article.

Google Scholar
Copy and paste references from the ‘cite’ tab on Google Scholar (does not include URLs), or add items to Google Scholar Library, where you can export them to other referencing tools.

Microsoft Word (365)
Import references into Microsoft Word using the Researcher feature under the References tab.

Library databases A-Z
Many library databases have 'cite' features similar to Library Search and Google Scholar.

Generate references for hundreds of styles using a URL or ISBN.

Reference managers

What are reference managers?

References managers are more sophisticated reference management software (also known as citation managers or bibliographic managers) which allow you to automatically capture, store and organise references and generate a bibliography/list of references.  Some also allow you to store and even annotate PDFs, and also have social networking options. Plugins for Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc will enable you to generate in-text references.

These tools work very well with articles in journals. However, not all book references will be perfectly rendered by such tools, and some sources - particularly non-academic sources - might need to be edited or entered manually.

Do I need to use a reference manager?

If you are enthusiastic about technology and like the idea of creating a personal library of research papers, you will enjoy using reference management software, and it will almost certainly be helpful to you.  

PhD students and academic researchers routinely use this software. However, not all researchers use them, and most students on taught courses do not.

Reference managers - what are the options?

The most well-known software are Refworks, Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley. The key features of these are described below.  Links to the products' own guides are provided below.  More information is available from the tabs above.


Subscription required (paid for by the university)
Plugins for MS Word, and Google Docs

Refworks user guide


Integrated browser, desktop and mobile app
Free Plugins for MS Word and Google Docs
300 MB free storage (is quite limited)

Zotero documentation (installation, quick start guide, etc)


Mendeley Reference Manager is web-based (Mendeley Desktop is still available but is no longer being developed)
Free Plugin for MS Word
Social networking Storage and in-app annotation of PDFs 2GB free storage (you have to pay if you want more)

Mendeley guides

EndNote / Endnote Basic

Endnote Basic is free
Free Plugins for MS Word
Integration with Web of Science

Endnote training resources

EndNote Basic is available online. EndNote basic users can create an online library with a maximum of 50,000 references and up to 2GB of attachments.  There are two versions of EndNote basic:

  • The free version of EndNote basic has 21 styles and a limited number of filters and connection files. Sign up to this version which is available to anybody, with no other purchase required. 
  • The version of EndNote basic available as part of the Web of Science has thousands of styles and hundreds of filters and connection files. This version is accessible via the Web of Science. You will need to create an account from within Web of Science.

Accessibility of reference managers for screen readers

EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero are not easily accessible for screen readers. MS Word's built-in Reference option is accessible but might be limited in the number of referencing styles available.

Guidance for using the Word referencing tab with NVDA and JAWS screen readers provided by Ros Walker University of St Andrews