Citation Management Programs

Citation management programs are excellent tools for gathering and organizing references for your research projects, and for creating properly-formatted citations and bibliographies in your papers. There are many such programs available. Here are a few guidelines for how to get started with Zotero and Mendeley, two of the most popular free programs.


Zotero works best as an add-in for the Firefox web browser, but is also available in a standalone version if you prefer to use a different browser. Go to the Zotero download page to download either one. If you choose the Firefox version, make sure that you also download the Word processor plugin, which allows you to insert properly-formatted citations directly into your papers. Zotero has a very good documentation page which should tell you everything you need to know. Make sure that you also register for an account, so that you can access your references from any computer.


Mendeley Desktop is a standalone program that works with all common web browsers. You can learn more about the program, download it, and sign up for personal account here.

A note to students who use only campus lab computers

You won't be able to download any programs or add-ins if you only have access to public computers in the labs on campus. In that case, you should probably sign up for a Zotero account, but skip the downoads. By logging into your account at, you'll be able to add references and create bibliographic citations. These can be cut-and-pasted into your word processing document, though you may have to reformat the line spacing and indenting to make them display correctly.