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Referencing guide at the University of Manchester: Referencing Software

How to choose the right referencing software.

Bibliographic managers allow you to collect, store and manage your references in one place, saving you valuable time.

They also allow you to:

  • store and manage your references in searchable folders
  • capture related PDF's, web pages, files, or images or link to available fulltext
  • add personal notes and index PDF fulltext
  • generate bibliographies or insert references into papers
  • format citations in a wide range of reference styles e.g. Harvard, Vancouver
  • create user groups and share references for class and other collaborative research work
  • take notes on articles and save them in your collection of citations


There are a wide range of bibliographic managers to choose from. They don't all have the same features; the chart below illustrates the strengths of each software package.

Training is available for EndNote and Mendeley via the My Learning Essentials.

Feature comparison

  EndNote EndNote online Reference manager Zotero Mendeley
Cost Free to all UoM staff and students on campus Free to all UoM staff and students on and off campus Free to all UoM staff and students on campus Free to everyone Free to everyone
Access Networked on UoM clusters; may use in conjunction with EndNote Web Web-based, data interchangeable with networked EndNote Cloud based. You need to install a word pluggin to use it correctly. Free on UoM clusters Desktop software and browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari Desktop software and web-based. Works with IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari
Difficulty Moderate learning curve Quick to learn - less functionality than the full version Moderate learning curve Moderate learning curve Moderate learning curve
Speed Fast performance Slower performance Fast performance Web based; performance dependant on network speed Web based; performance dependant on network speed
Customisable Very customisable Less customisable Very customisable Very customisable Very customisable
Journal appreviation lists Includes journal abbreviation lists Does not include journal abbreviation lists Includes journal abbreviation lists Not straightforward as you need to install an experimental plug-in Not straightforward; consult the Mendeley help pages
Link to Findit@UML Link to Findit@UML can be configured Automatically links to Findit@UML Link to Findit@UML can be configured No No
Link to URLs Can link to URLs, and to local documents (PDFs, word docs etc) No Can link to URLs, and to local documents (PDFs, word docs etc) Can link to URLs, and to local documents (PDFs, word docs etc) Can link to URLs, and to local documents (PDFs, word docs etc)
Attach full text articles/documents Can automatically find & attach full text journal articles (PDFs) Cannot attach documents or other files Very easy to attach documents and other files Very easy to attach documents and other files Very easy to attach documents and other files
Web page capture Cannot capture copy of Web page Can capture webpage data using the Web Capture download installer. Cannot capture copy of Web page Can capture web page data Can capture web page data
Adding notes/tags Easy to add your own notes and tags Can add your own notes and tags Easy to add your own notes and tags Easy to add your own notes and tags Easy to add your own notes and tags
Inserting figures, tables etc. Can create records to insert figures, tables, etc., into papers Can create records to insert figures, tables, etc., into papers Can create records to insert figures, tables, etc., into papers Can create records to insert figures, tables, etc., into papers Can create records to insert figures, tables, etc., into papers
Referencing styles 5000+ bibliographic styles + create your own style 3000+ bibliographic styles 1000+ bibliographic styles + create your own style Many standard referencing styles Many standard referencing styles
Sharing your references Can share libraries with other EndNote users via EndNote Web Can share libraries with other EndNote online users Can share database with other Ref Man users Can share citations via Zotero website Can share citations via private group.
Reference collection and organisation Appropriate for collecting and organizing sources & preparing manuscripts for publication Not as good a stand-alone choice; best used with EndNote Desktop Appropriate for collecting and organizing sources & preparing manuscripts for publication Appropriate for collecting and organizing sources & preparing manuscripts for publication Appropriate for collecting and organizing sources & preparing manuscripts for publication
Recommended for UG/PGT/PGR/Staff UG/PGT UG/PGT/Staff PGT/PGR/Staff PGT/PGR/Staff
Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence.

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