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A Guide to Citation Management Software

An introduction to citation management software.

What is Citation Management?

If you are dealing with more than a handful of citations in your reports, you should strongly consider using a bit of software called a reference or citation manager.

Citation management software (CMS) can help you collect and organize the items that you find when searching in databases, and it automates the process of creating your bibliography in your selected style when you're writing.

Choosing a Citation Manager

There are many citation management tools available, both paid and free, all with different strengths and weaknesses.

McMaster Libraries doesn't recommend any specific system, but we do have a citation management software comparison chart to help you choose from these three popular choices:

EndNote logoEndNote is available to current McMaster employees and students at no cost and consists of a website, browser plug-ins and desktop application (which can be synced across devices & with website). NOTE: A web-based citation management tool called EndNote Basic is free to anyone and has no desktop component. EndNote Basic has less storage and fewer features than EndNote. See this chart for details.

Mendeley logo Mendeley is a free citation management tool that consists of  a website, browser extension and desktop application (which can be synced across devices & with website).
 

Zotero logoZotero is a a free citation management tool that consists of  a website, browser extension or bookmarklet, and desktop application (which can be synced across devices & with website).

 
Guides for each of these citation managers [linked above and in the left navigation pane] are also available to help you through the process of setting up a citation management system, adding references to it from a database, and using it with MS Word to format your bibliography.

If these three options do not meet your needs, you can view a much larger comparison chart on Wikipedia, which includes both free and fee-based alternatives.

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