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Guides & Tutorial, Pao-yue Kong Library, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Reference Management Tools: Home

A Comprehensive Guide for EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero

3 Ways a Reference Management Tool Can Help You

Related Library Workshops

LS056  Using EndNote 
(Part 1: Essential Features)
LS057  Using EndNote 
(Part 2: Advanced Features)
LS039  Citing References and Avoiding Plagiarism

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Research Support

Phone   2766-6863
Whatsapp   6423-0820
In Person   Enquiry Counter, P/F, 
  Pao Yue-kong Library


Reference Management Tools

What is Reference Management Tools?

Reference Management Tools are softwares to help you to:

  • Organize, annotate and manage your references.
  • Import references from online databases, library catalogs, websites and PDFs.
  • Create in-text citations and formatted bibliographies.
  • Share references with other researchers.
  • Work on your references anytime, anywhere.


Why should I use Reference Management Tools?

When writing academic papers, it is a scholarly practice for you to make citations when using someone else's work or idea. Adding in-text citations and references also help you to avoid plagiarism. Many stumble with references when writing their paper because they either do not remember where the reading is taken from, or they are unfamiliar with citation styles. Hence, Reference Management Tools like EndNote is useful because they:

  • Help you stay organized with all the papers, books and websites you have used during your research
  • Enhances your efficiency in academic paper - you create in-text citations and references effortlessly
  • Create accurate in-text citation and formatted bibliographies in required citation style easily.

Free up your time from manually managing references so that you can spend more time on writing and researching!


Which tools are available to me? 

Three commonly used reference management tools at PolyU:

Which Tool is Right for You?

Major strengths of different citation management tools are listed below:

EndNote : Easily customizable citation output styles.
Mendeley : Strong PDF management.
Zotero : Strong ability in capturing reference from diverse sources including webpages.

No single tool is perfect - they all have their distinct strengths and weaknesses.

When deciding which tool to use, you can use the table below to help you decide which is the best for you. Also, there will be additional advantages in sharing and collaboration if you select a tool used by your peers.

Sometimes you may need to use more than one reference management tool for different purposes especially when references are easily transferable between platforms. For example, you may use Zotero to help you capture your webpages and for the actual writing of your paper, you may choose to use EndNote. 

Comparison of EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero

Features EndNote Mendeley Zotero
Strengths Easily customizable
citation output styles
Strong in
PDF management
Strong ability to capture information from diverse sources including webpages
OS Compatibility Window & Mac Window, Mac & Linux Window, Mac & Linux
Web Version

(only works for Firefox,
Chrome and Safari)

Mobile Version

(iPad only)

(3rd party apps only)

Storage Capacity No limit Local: no limit
Web: 2GB for free
Local: no limit
Web: 300MB for free
Import Citation from OneSearch
Import Citation from Databases
Import Citation from the Web
(extremely robust but only works
for Firefox, Chrome and Safari)
Find Full-text Rely on Mendeley
Rely on Zotero
Create Citation from PDF
(for PDF with DOI only)
Annotate PDF
Work Collaboratively with Others
Duplicate Detection
Create Formatted Bibliographies,
In-text Citations in MS Word
Format Bibliography 6,000+ styles and can create your own style 8,000+ styles 8,000+ styles
Edit Citation Styles By specific computer
language only
By specific computer
language only
Leaving PolyU Can keep the references, but subscription is required for version upgrade in future Can keep the references and free to upgrade to the latest version Can keep the references and free to upgrade to the latest version