Q. How can I save and organize my sources?

There are tools available to help cite, save, and organize your sources.

Citation managers, also called reference management tools, enable users to create, capture, and store references and then use them in bibliographies, footnotes, endnotes, and other output. Not only are they enormous time-savers, they also enable researchers to create their own research database and even share them with others.

Take a look at the library's research guide on citation managers for more information! 

Citation generators, on the other hand, are online tools that automatically generate citations for your works cited list in the citation style of your choice. If you're looking for a quick and easy citation, this is probably the way to go.

Use the chart below to determine which tool would work best for your research. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. There are many citation tools available online, so explore and experiment to see which one is right for you. 

Please note that free online citation generators often include ads for paid services and may ask for payment for more than basic features (e.g. EasyBib's free service is limited to MLA citation style). These services also change often and their current limitations may not be included in this guide. 

Would you like to...?

Suggested application(s)


Work on multiple computers

Zotero (free), Mendeley (free), EndNote Web (available to Fresno State Students), RefWorks ($)

Zotero (PC/Mac/Linux) allows you the flexibility to sync your references across multiple computers as well as access your references online (in the cloud) by logging into your Zotero account at zotero.org. Free. 

EndNote Web is a reference manager for collecting, editing and organizing up to 10,000 references. It has many of the same features as the full version, but is simpler to use and you can use it anyplace you have internet access. Fresno State students can create a free account. 

Mendeley Desktop can be downloaded onto as many computers as you want and has full support for PC/Mac/Linux operating systems. Data synced on the desktop client is automatically backed up to the cloud. Free. 

RefWorks is web-based so you can collect and access your resources using any computer (PC/Mac/Linux) with an Internet connection. View their pricing information

Collect numerous web-based references and sources

Zotero (free) 

Zotero's translators make saving web-based content to your Zotero library very easy. Zotero allows you to capture websites and other web resources with one click. Zotero takes a snapshot of the website as it appears the moment you save it to your library. You won't have to worry about captured web content changing since Zotero stores the snapshot in your library. You can also add annotations to snapshots.

Work collaboratively with others

Zotero (free), Mendeley (free), EndNote Web (free to Fresno State Students), RefWorks

Use Zotero Groups to easily share your resources with others either privately or publicly. 

Mendeley offers group functionality as well: open, invite-only, or private group members can share papers and notes.

EndNote Web offers a Groups function to share references with other EndNote Web users.

RefShare by RefWorks allows researchers and scholars the ability to collaborate across institutions.

Maintain access to your sources (i.e. beyond graduation, job change) so that you can continue to add over time

Zotero (free), Mendeley (free) 

Many institutions offer citation tools while you're affiliated with the organization (student, faculty, staff). Once you graduate or leave that institution, your access to certain resources may be terminated. Use Zotero, Mendeley, and/or Qiqqa and you'll never have to worry about losing any of your academic resources.

Organize a large number of PDF files that you already have saved on your computer

Mendeley (free), Zotero (free), EndNote  (free to Fresno State students)

Each of these tools allows you to organize your PDF collection as well as index them for easy searching and citing.

Generate a citation quickly for an assignment

BibMe (free), EasyBib (free, but only for MLA), Zotero (free) 

Web-based applications BibMe and EasyBib can quickly format a citation for you online which you can then copy and paste into your document, export to Microsoft Word, or save online for later.

Using Zotero's Quick Copy function, you can drag and drop a citation from your Zotero library into any text field (word processing document, Google doc, email, blog post, etc.) in order to instantly generate a works cited or bibliography.

Some library databases have built-in citation generators, where you can select a "cite" button to get the citation for that article or book in various formats. 

Another option is to use the "Cite" feature in Google Scholar. Just search for your article and choose the "cite" link beneath the citation. 

Quickly cite a work in a popular bibliographic style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian)

BibMe (free), EasyBib (free, but only for MLA) 

Both BibMe and EasyBib allow you to generate a citation very quickly using their Citation Guides. You can easily copy and paste the citation for quick use anywhere.

 Some library databases have built-in citation generators, where you can select a "cite" button to get the citation for that article or book in various formats. 

Another option is to use the "Cite" feature in Google Scholar. Just search for your article and choose the "cite" link beneath the citation. 

Cite a work within my document

Zotero (free),  EndNote (free to Fresno State Students), Refworks ($)

With Zotero, you can reference your Zotero library directly from your word processing document in order to add an in-text citation using a word processor integration plugin.

Using RefWorks' Write-N-Cite feature, you can add a citation to your word processing document.

Using EndNote's Cite While You Write™feature, you can cite references within your Microsoft Word document.


Use a free tool

Zotero (free), Mendeley (free), BibMe (free),  EasyBib (free, but only for MLA) 

All of these tools are freely available for you to download (Zotero, Mendeley) or start using online (BibMe, EasyBib) at any time.

* Note that upgrades in storage space and other premium features for certain applications are not free.

Use a desktop application to be installed on my main computer, on which I will conduct most of my research

Mendeley (free), EndNote (free to Fresno State students)

Mendeley (PC/Mac/Linux) and EndNote (PC/Mac) are primarily desktop programs that work very well if you plan to use the same computer during your research. Both applications offer web-based access to your collected citations but are most robust if used on your primary computer.

Work offline when I do not have acess to the Internet

Zotero (free), Mendeley (free),  EndNote (free to Fresno State students)

Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote all save your references and citations locally on your computer and can be accessed offline. Zotero, in particular, stores your library in your Firefox profile.

Use a tool that is licensed and supported by my institution

EndNote (Free to Fresno State students)

Fresno State has purchased a license to EndNote for use by all Fresno State students. To find out more about how to install and use EndNote, please see this guide

Use a tool thatworks on my mobile device

Mendeley (free), EasyBib (free), RefWorks ($),  Zotero (free)

Mendeley Reference Manager (Lite) is available for free download at the iTunes App Store.

EasyBib has an iPhone app that you can download for free from the iTunes App Store.

RefWorks Mobile allows you to login to your RefWorks account on your mobile device in order to access your references and citations.

Android and iOS App developers have been hard at work creating a variety of Zotero mobile applications

(Chart adapted from one created by Marie Sciangula at Purchase College, SUNY) 



  • Last Updated Feb 01, 2021
  • Views 20
  • Answered By Amanda Dinscore

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