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Not a Fear Factor (TechnoScholar): Comparison of Citation Software

This guide has been created to be used as part of the TechnoScholar Series of workshops for UTA faculty and graduate students. It is in the process of being updated.

Full Comparison of Citation Software







Desktop client software.


Desktop software and browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari


Must purchase client software.

Free via UTA license. See the RefWorks guide for more information.  Sign up for an individual account on the RefWorks website. (UTA only)

Free, open source software.  Download Zotero

Learning curve Takes longer to learn, but not difficult with training Fairly quick to learn; many online user guides and demos Quick to learn; simple design, many online user guides and demos


  • Excellent for organizing citations for papers and theses
  • Best option for major research projects, because it offers the most options for customization and formatting
  • Most output styles for formatting
  • Most customizable
  • Can handle a large amount of references
  • Allows users to share citations
  • Good for organizing citations for papers
  • Web-based
  • Since UTA has a site license, there's no cost
  • Simple download of records
  • Good for managing a variety of formats, including webpages
  • Offers most functionality in a free, open-source product
  • Downloads records from with several databases that don't work with EndNote and RefWorks, including Factiva, LexisNexis, and USPTO

How does it work?

You export references from compatible databases into EndNote

You export references from compatible databases into RefWorks

Zotero can tell when you are looking at an item and shows an icon for it in the Firefox URL bar.  Click the icon to add the item to your Zotero references

Does it have many output styles and bibliographic formats?

Yes, many popular styles and formats

Yes, numerous popular bibliographic formats, but not as simple to change as in EndNote

Yes, many popular styles and formats

How simple is it to import records? Simple to import records from most research databases Simple to import records from most research databases Very simple, as long as the resource is compatible with Zotero, but you will want to verify that the records are complete after import

What kinds of records can you import and organize (PDFs, images, etc.)?

Most helpful for organizing records for articles and books; PDFs and other file types can also be stored in the records.  Can download PDFs in batches. PDFs aren't searchable.

Records for articles and books

Books, articles, patents, and webpages; Can also store PDFs, web screenshots, files, and images in records. You can make PDFs searchable by choosing to index them in the preferences menu.

Are records in your library viewable by others? No. Yes; Users can share references in library with other RefWorks users Yes.  Users can set up individual and group profiles and share records
Can you export records to other citation software? Yes Yes Yes
Is managing and maintaining a big library (1000 records) complicated? Not complex; EndNote is best option for maintaining large libraries Not complex, but it can be cumbersome to manage large libraries More difficult; takes time to sort out duplicates and verify that records are complete
Does it work with word processing software? Clean integration with Word and powerful formatting and customization features; also works with Open Office and LaTex through BibTex Works with Word through "Write-N-Cite" feature and LaTex through BibTex Works with Word and Open Office; also works with LaTex through BibTex.  You can create a list of Works Cited for Google Docs
Does it back up your records? No Yes Yes, if you choose to back up or sync your Zotero library. A small amount of storage is free.
Other important features
  • PDF file management and organization features
  • Since it's web-based, you're not limited to a single machine
  • If you back up records, you can sync multiple computers
  • Integrated with work on web that you do
  • Fastest download of records
  • Saves snapshot of web pages
  • Allows users to highlight text and take notes on page
  • Allows users to tag records


Some content in this guide based on guides created by:

MIT Libraries