Citation Managers

How to choose the proper citation manager

There are a few things to consider when choosing a citation management software program:

  • Do you use different computers when doing research?
  • Do you need to share your research with others?
  • Do you need to occasionally work without internet access?
  • Do you like to mark up documents that you read?
  • Are you using the Office 365 click-to-run version of Word?
  • Are you fairly "tech savvy"?

What are citation or reference managers?

Citation managers - also called reference managers - are software programs that allow you save, organize and cite your research.  Many of these resources are free, only requiring payment for upgraded features.  Some require a paid subscription.

What do citation managers do?

In general, citation managers allow you to easily save your articles, book chapters and other documents either to your computer and/or a cloud-based account.  Some allow you to notate your documents.  They save information that will allow you to create in-text citations, references and bibliographies.  Some citation managers have cloud-based programs that allow you to share your work with others.

Things to know

Citation or reference manager programs run on Macs and PCs; on different operating systems; with many different browsers.  These programs interact with different subscription databases, and different word-processing programs.  All systems must be in sync to work successfully.  It is not uncommon for operating system or browser updates to cause problems if the citation managers are not updated in a timely manner.  In some cases, browser changes prohibit the use of certain citation managers (most commonly, Safari).  Similarly, updating or NOT updating word-processing software can cause issues.  Virtually all citation or reference management programs have support pages or forums on their websites in order to help users troubleshoot issues that will invariably arise.


The Fielding Library does not offer institutional subscriptions to any citation management software programs.  Fielding Librarians can offer some guidance on troubleshooting Zotero and Mendeley issues, but all citation management programs are available by parties or companies that are not part of Fielding Graduate University.