Skip to Main Content

Reference Managers: Home

Supporting students who want to manage their references and easily create in text citations and reference lists

What are reference managers?

When was the last time you sat up until 3 in the morning trying to get your citations squared away right before the deadline? Tired of forgetting where you got that perfect article? What about remembering what sources you still needed to read and review?

No more! Reference managers can help you

  1. keep track of articles, books, and other sources you might use in your writing,
  2. organize, read, and annotate those materials, and
  3. automatically generate in-text citations and bibliographies in your papers!

The River Campus Libraries offer and support several reference managers. Find one that works for you, and never spend the last few hours of a paper fighting with citations again!

Which reference manager is for me?

Feel free to try two or three different ones and see what you like! They all specialize in different additional features and act in slightly different ways, but they will do the same primary things: keeping track of sources, helping you organize them, and generating citations and bibliographies. 

Some tips on where to start:

  • I work mostly with PDFs.
    • Mendeley tends to do the best at managing PDFs of journal articles and book chapters.
  • I use a lot of different computers, so something web-based would be best.
    • RefWorks or EndNote Web is web-based and easy to get started with.
    • All of the others will let you see you library of references from a web interface too, but may not be as full-featured on the web.
  • I need to keep track of a bunch of attachments: art pieces, images, data sets...
    • Zotero might be a good place to start, because it makes it obvious how a general record relates to a bunch of attachments.
  • I need to customize how the software interacts with my citations.
    • ​EndNote Desktop has the steepest learning curve, but it also has the most flexibility in formatting citations.
  • My group wants to share references using this software.
    • ​EndNote and Refworks have the most robust tools for sharing references among a group. (For free, at least.)

How to get help

Ask an expert!

Interested in an in-person training for yourself, a class or a group? Please contact any of the librarians above.

See the provider's documentation!

For RefWorks, start with their Introduction to Refworks guide.

Mendeley offers a number of Help Guides and a Support Center.

EndNote's training page has a ton of great resources. And here is support for EndNote Web.

Zotero has a robust documentation page including screencasts. Check out the tutorials that a UR student, Kylah Rendell, created with help from Outreach Librarian Sarah Siddiqui: &

Reference Managers we support


Do you have a favorite reference manager that we haven't listed here? Let us know by email and we'll see about adding it here.

Reference Manager - What will it do for me?