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How to Choose: EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero: Home

Getting Started

This guide will assist you in choosing the citation manager that best fits your needs.  You cannot go wrong with choosing any of the tools, but it helps if you take a few things into consideration before starting.  Remember that switching between the tools is possible, but it does become less convenient the longer you use a tool and the more file attachments you collect.

All three programs can:

  • store references in one place 
  • export citations directly from databases 
  • automatically format bibliographies and citations in MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, or thousands of other styles 
  • keep reading notes linked to sources 
  • insert citations directly into Word
  • attach files to your references and more!

Reasons to Choose EndNote

Zotero and Mendeley are relatively young tools when compared to EndNote. EndNote X9 offers some advanced features that might be necessary for your discipline and work flow, including hundreds of built-in citation styles. For Northwestern students, faculty, and staff, EndNote X9 can be downloaded through NUIT with a valid NetID.

Reasons to Choose Mendeley

If your research content is primarily contained in PDF files, Mendeley has an integrated PDF viewer and can create citation records by using the browser extension. Mendeley has the strongest website and community platform.

Reasons to Choose Zotero

If your research content is diverse, Zotero is the easiest method to gather citation records for non-PDF content.  Zotero's single-click capture works with more databases, catalogs, and websites than Mendeley's browser extension. You can also enable the retrieval of PDF metadata, which allows you to create citation records just from dragging a PDF into Zotero. Zotero is open source and cannot be acquired by a company.

Questions? Contact the library's citation management support.


This guide is based on a similar guide by Daria Carson-Dussan, Melissa Vetter, and Cheryl Holland at WUSTL.