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Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, & Beyond!: Citation Management Tools

Citation Management Tools

Clip art person holding a magnifying glass looking at filesHave you ever been working on a research paper and realized that you read the perfect article for this paper when you wrote a paper on a similar topic last year? As you progress through your career as a scholar and really focus in on your area of interest you might find it useful to keep track of the different books, articles, and websites you consult for projects. A citation management tool can help you with this by creating a personal database of sources to that you have consulted. 

Citation management tools allow you to collect, organize, and retrieve citation information from books, articles, & websites. They also will help you create in-text citations and works cited entries for the sources you are using.

Free Citation Management Tools


  • Free tool with both web-based functionality and a desktop client. 
  • Open Source software, not affiliated with any publisher. 
    • Because this software is open source it is the recommend citation manager by the library staff. 
  • Excellent for capturing websites in addition to more scholarly publications.
  • Not designed to be used across multiple public or shared computers. 
  • Excellent LibGuide from Illinois State University with step-by-step instructions for using Zotero:

EndNote Basic

  • Free, web-based version of EndNote with limited functionality. 
  • Provided by Clarivate Analytics and Web of Science
  • For full functionality you would need to purchase EndNote, which is costly. 


  • Free tool with web-based functionality, a desktop client, and mobile app
  • Provided by Elsevier, providers of Science Direct. 
  • Plug-in allows you create citations directly in Microsoft Word
  • Has a social network-type component.

We encourage you to do your research and find the citation manager that works best for you. For a more in-depth comparison of the options, check out this Comparison Chart from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. 

As always, if you need help managing your citations you can ask a librarian for help!