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Michigan State University

Mendeley: Comparing Citation Managers

Information for Mendeley uses, including citation download assistance, bibliography creation, and tips to make Mendeley a time-saving, citation management tool

Compare Citation Managers

What will it do for me? A quick guide to choosing a reference manager

EndNote Zotero Mendeley Flow

EndNote Logo

MSU has made EndNote available on campus computers. You can set up preferences to search within specific databases and collect citations through a personalized interface, with hundreds of citation styles available.

Zotero Logo

Zotero is a free software that you can download and use on Firefox, with plugins for Chrome and Safari. It saves citations and connections to online media, and takes screenshots of your internet research.

Meneley Logo

Mendeley is a free software that you can download to your computer or use in-browser. It takes all of your PDF article files and organizes them. It allows for tagging, and has a growing community of scholars.

flow logo

ProQuest Flow is a browser-based tool that saves references and allows you to read and annotate PDF articles. It works especially well with ProQuest databases. You can also collaborate with colleagues and link to Dropbox for extra storage

Takes longer to learn, training recommended. Quick to learn, especially with training. Quick to learn, especially with training. Quick to learn.
Personal copies of EndNote are available for a fee through the MSU Technology Store, or free on campus computers. Since EndNote is desktop-based, syncing between devices can be challenging, but continues to improve. Zotero is used with your personal browser – to use it on multiple devices you have to carry your library settings on an external device or sync via Firefox, which is not secure on a public computer. Mendeley has some difficulty downloading citations and PDF files from library databases. Older PDF files that do not have proper metadata will not give proper citation information to Mendeley. You cannot use ProQuest Flow offline. It has fewer options for importing and searching for articles than other citation managers. While references can be saved in multiple folders, there is no tagging.

EndNote Desktop: your computer's storage capacity.

EndNote Web: 2 GB free, unlimited with purchase of EndNote Desktop.

Zotero Desktop: your computer's storage capacity.

Zotero Online: 300 MB free, additional space for a fee.

Mendeley Desktop: your computer's storage capacity.

Mendeley Online: 2 GB free.

2 GB free with MSU Email
MSU Library's EndNote Guide

MSU Library's Zotero Guide

MSU Library's Mendeley Guide None. See Flow guide from Proquest


Please see the Schedule of Library Classes for upcoming sessions


Please see the Schedule of Library Classes for upcoming sessions


Please see the Schedule of Library Classes for upcoming sessions


Citation Management Tools

Brief overview of software that helps to organize and manage citations.

Direct link to "Citation Management Tools" on MSU Mediaspace

Video credit: Emilia Marcyk (with Deborah Margolis)

Export citations from Endnote to Mendeley

To import your EndNote library, you need to first export your references to an 'EndNote XML' file and then import that into Mendeley Desktop

  1. In EndNote, select the references that you want to import into Mendeley Desktop, and click File > Export...
  2. In the window that appears, there is a box labeled 'Files of type:', in that box select 'XML (*.xml)'
  3. Choose a name for the file and click the 'Save' button
  4. Open Mendeley Desktop and click File > Add Files
  5. Select the file which you exported from EndNote and click Open
As an alternative to the EndNote XML format, you can also export references to Bibtex and RIS format in EndNote which Mendeley Desktop can also import.
  1. In EndNote select Edit > Output Styles > Open Style Manager
  2. Check the 'Bibtex Export' and 'RefMan (RIS) Export' options in the list that appears then close the window.
  3. Then go to File > Export... and select the 'Text File' type.
  4. In the box labeled Output Style, select either Bibtex Export or 'RefMan (RIS) Export'
  5. In the filename field, enter a name ending in ".bib" for Bibtex or ".ris" for RIS export and click 'Save'.

Comparison of EndNote, EndNote Web, Mendeley, and Zotero features

Which Citation Manager Should I Choose?

For more information on which citation manager to use, see the following sites:

Choosing a Citation Manager from the Penn State University Libraries

Zotero vs. Endnote from The Chronicle of Higher Education ProfHacker Blog

Citation Managers: Comparison of Features from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries

How to migrate from other reference management tools to Mendeley?

Mendeley can import references from other citation management tools, such as Endnote, Zotero, RefWorks and Papers. Click HERE to access the PDF document Mendeley Migration Guide.