Bibliography management tools (also known as citation or reference management tools) help you organize your research sources and generate bibliographies in muliple citation formats.
Stanford University Libraries support the following bibliography management tools:
Choosing a citation style
For most papers, you will need to format your bibliography according to the citation style specified by your instructor or publisher. Some of the citation styles used at Stanford include:
- MLA (Modern Language Association)
- APA (American Psychological Association)
- Chicago (The Chicago Manual of Style)
For more information about citation styles see: Working with Citations, Purdue Online Writing Lab and the Plagiarism section of the Stanford University Honor Code.
Choosing a citation management tool
All of the tools will help you organize your research references and all include a plug-in for word processing programs to format citations and create bibliographies. But some of the tools offer other features, such as support for collaboration, a web-based interface, and mobile applications.
The Stanford University Libraries provide campus-wide subscriptions to RefWorks and Mendeley. EndNote Web is part of the Stanford University Libraries' subscription to Web of Knowledge. Zotero is an open source tool with basic features at no charge.
The following comparison charts may help you choose a tool that is best for you:
Bibliography management workshops
Several libraries on campus provide workshops and drop-in help sessions on citation management tools.
Stanford Libraries workshops
Lane Medical Library workshops
Need more help?
For more help on citation management tools, email the Reference Manager Users list.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I PICK?
As mentioned above, we generally recommend Zotero if you're just starting out. Your specific work environment may dictate your choice -- e.g. are you joining a lab where something else is already in use? Do you expect a lot of collaborative work in which it might be useful to share citation libraries on the same platform? -- but in general, Zotero should work for all your needs.
The Libraries offer free hands-on workshops on using citation management software. You can find information about dates and times as well as register online to attend one of these sessions on the Libraries Workshops page.
As always, you can Ask A Librarian any questions related to library-supported resources. You can do so in person at a reference desk, by email, by phone, or in an online chat session.
CONVERTING AN EXISTING CITATION LIBRARY TO A DIFFERENT APPLICATION
Zotero provides instructions on how to import reference libraries from other software you may have used in the past.
If you are transferring from Endnote, the process is a little more intricate; here's a separate page describing it. If you are a long-time Endnote user who would like to move your data, and you need help, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a librarian who will help you through this process.
If you are a Mendeley user, here are instructions on importing reference libraries from Endnote, from Zotero, or from Papers.
CURIOUS ABOUT OTHER SOFTWARE?
If you are a heavy LaTeX user, BibDesk might suit your needs.
See also: Wikipedia's Comparison of Reference Management Software