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Zotero, EndNote, Mendeley: Managing your library research

Why Zotero, EndNote, or Mendeley?

Zotero, Mendeley, and Endnote can help with gathering, organizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and creating/writing products based on library research.

  • Gathering. This is what you do to find, access, and collect resources that have information that is relevant to your project.
  • Organizing. This is what you do to make sure that what you find and collect is arranged and useable in a way that "makes sense" for your project. Also, it's important to not lose what you have found.
  • Analyzing or synthesizing. This is what you do with the information you have found to address questions or problems you work on for papers, theses, dissertations, articles, or grants.
  • Creating products for sharing results. This is what you do to share the answers you have found, including completed papers, theses, dissertations, articles, or grant submissions or reports.

Get the software

Get. Connect to a software web site to get the software and for information on installing and using the software. 

Support. Do notice that each of these sites has support for answering questions you might have.

Cost. Zotero and Mendeley are free to download and install. EndNote has a free trial version you can install for a short time, but thereafter you have to pay for the version that you install on your computer. For the free "web" version of EndNote, see Comparisons at left. 

  • Zotero                                                        
  • EndNote                                                    
  • Mendeley       


University sites  These sites have fairly current comparison information on costs, functions, etc.   That said, be aware that the programs themselves keep evolving.                                      

Wikipedia's Comparison of reference management software includes a large number of resources, as well as information about availability on various operating systems. Not all software options it lists are current, but it could be useful for understanding what's available.

Look before you start

  1. See what software programs can do. Attend a workshop.  See tutorials on websites.
  2. At left see Comparisons.
  3. Ask friends or colleagues about their experience.
  4. Choose a software program: Zotero, EndNote, Mendeley **.
  5. At left see Get the Software, then connect and follow directions to download and install the chosen program.
  6. Download and install plugin for web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox). These grab references and pdfs, etc. as you are doing searches for information/resources on research topics.
  7. Download and install plugin for Word; these help automate citations and references. Note: The word processor plugins are bundled with Zotero and should be installed automatically for each supported word processor on your computer when you first start Zotero.
  8. Register for free online account for program.  Connect to program site to do this. Use to back up your research contents, to access your content from any computer, create groups for collaboration, etc.  This "back up" is called "syncing".
  9. Configure program on your computer.  For syncing, for pdfs, citation style, resolver, etc.
  10. Know where to get help: librarian, friend, online guides, online forums or tutorials at software program sites.
    ** Special note: you can transfer content from one program to another. However, after you choose, it can be a good idea not to switch before you complete important projects like papers, theses, dissertations, etc.

Online help and guides

Software websites at different universities

Each of the sites below has fairly current information.

That said, again, the programs themselves keep evolving.  

Zotero Guides
Oregon State University
Florida State University
Georgia State U
Northwestern U
Harvard University
University of Illinois

Mendeley Guides
Northwestern University
University of Illinois

EndNote Guides
Northwestern University
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
University of Illinois

KSU help - Librarians

We can help with basic information, with basic set up, and with basic troubleshooting. To get started, contacting us by email is best.