Comparison of reference management software

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The following tables compare notable reference management software. The comparison includes older applications that may no longer be supported, as well as actively-maintained software.

General[edit]

In the "notes" section, there is a difference between:

  • web-based, referring to applications that may be installed on a web server (usually requiring MySQL or another database and PHP, Perl, Python, or some other language for web applications)
  • a centrally hosted website
Software Developer First public release Latest stable release date Latest stable version Cost (USD) Free software License Notes
Bebop ALaRI Institute 2007-11-08 2009-11-10 1.1 Free Yes BSD web-based BibTeX front-end (Apache, PHP, MySQL)
BibBase Christian Fritz 2005 2013-07 v3 Free No Proprietary centrally hosted website, intended for publication pages
BibDesk BibDesk developers 2002-04 2021-08-15 1.8.3 Free Yes BSD BibTeX front-end + repository; Cocoa-based; integration with Spotlight
BibSonomy University of Kassel 2006-01 2019-12-11 3.9.2 Free Yes AGPL, GPL, LGPL[1] centrally hosted website
Bookends Sonny Software 1988 (Mac) / 1983 (Apple II+) 2021-01-23 13.5.1[2] US$59.99[3] No Proprietary Desktop & iOS synced via iCloud, integrated web search, PDF download, auto-completion, Word plugin, BibTex support, PDF annotations stored as notes
Citavi QSR International[4] 2006-02-13 2022-01-05 6.11.0.0 US$89-1947[5] No Proprietary data can be saved locally on the computer, or, for team access, in the Citavi Cloud or an intranet Microsoft SQL Server;[6] search databases from interface[7]
EndNote Clarivate Analytics 1988 2021-11-30 20.2.1 US$299.95[3] No Proprietary The web version EndNote basic (formerly, EndNote Web) is free of charge
JabRef JabRef developers 2003-11-29 2022-04-25 5.6 Free Yes MIT license Java BibTeX and BibLaTeX manager
KBibTeX KBibTeX developers 2005-08 2020-04-26 0.9.2 Free Yes GNU GPL BibTeX front-end, using the KDE Software Compilation
Mendeley Elsevier 2008-08 2020 1.19.8 Free / Online storage free up to 2 GB / Additional storage space available No proprietary (OS API clients exist) Account required, Desktop & Web components, Windows, Linux, macOS (not macOS 11 Big Sur)
Paperpile Stefan Washietl, Gregorgy Jordan, Andreas Gruber 2013 Continually updated online US$2.99/month for academics, 9.99/month otherwise No Proprietary web-application, integrates with Google Docs, collaboration & sharing features, currently only on Google Chrome
Papers ReadCube 2011-10 2021-03-09 v.4.23.3 US$ 3/month for students, 5/month academics No Proprietary Web-app, Desktop (MacOS, Windows), Mobile (iOS and Android). Microsoft Word and Google Docs add-in. Browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari)
Pybliographer pybliographer developers 1998-10-30 (0.2) 2018-04-03 1.4.0 Free Yes GNU GPL Python/GTK2
refbase refbase developers 2003-06-03 2014-02-28 0.9.6 Free Yes GNU GPL web-based for institutional repositories/self-archiving[8]
RefDB refdb developers 2001-04-25 2007-11-05 0.9.9 Free Yes GNU GPL network-transparent; XML/SGML bibliographies
RefWorks Ex Libris / ProQuest 2001 2022 4.6 Institutional subscription No Proprietary web-based, browser-accessed, Word & Google Docs
Wikindx Mark Grimshaw, Stéphane Aulery 2004-02 2021-10-21 6.5.0 Free Yes ISC license web-based
Zotero Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at GMU 2006 2022-06-23 6.0.9 [9] Free / Online storage free up to 300 MB / Additional storage space available Yes AGPL Multi-platform desktop version with connectors for Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Web-based access to reference library also available through Zotero.org or through a personal cloud-based database folder on a user's computer (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.).

Operating system support[edit]

In the case of web applications, this describes the server OS. For centrally hosted websites that are proprietary, this is not applicable. Any client OS can connect to a web service unless stated otherwise in a footnote.

Software Windows macOS Linux ChromeOS BSD Unix iOS App Android App Windows App
Bebop Yes Yes Yes ? Yes Yes No No No
BibBase ? ? ?
BibDesk No Yes No ? No No Third-party - PocketBib ? ?
BibSonomy ? ? ?
Bookends No Yes No ? No No Yes ? ?
Citavi Yes No No No No No No No No
EndNote Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No
JabRef Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No No No
KBibTeX Experimental Experimental Yes ? Yes Yes No No No
Mendeley Yes Yes Yes No No No No
(phased out as of March 15,2021) [10]
No
(phased out as of March 15,2021) [10]
No
Paperpile Yes Yes Yes Yes No
(requires Chromium)
No
(requires Chromium)
in beta Yes [11] No
Papers Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Pybliographer Partial[12] Partial[12] Yes ? Yes Yes No No No
refbase Yes Yes Yes ? Yes Yes No No No
RefDB Yes Yes Yes ? Yes Yes No No No
RefWorks[13] Yes Yes No Yes Yes ? No - but is responsive ? No
Wikindx Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Zotero Yes Yes Yes Intel only No Yes Yes third party - Aziz, Lite![14] No

Export file formats[edit]

This table lists the machine-readable file formats that can be exported from reference managers. These are typically used to share data with other reference managers or with other people who use a reference manager. To exchange data from one program to another, the first program must be able to export to a format that the second program may import. Import file formats are in a table below this one.

Software BibTeX Endnote/Refer/BibIX Medline MODS XML RIS Other
Bebop Yes No No No No unAPI
BibBase Yes No No No No none
BibDesk Yes No Yes Yes Yes Endnote XML, user customizable
BibSonomy Yes Yes No No Yes various [2]
Bookends Yes Yes Yes No Yes various user-customizable
Citavi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes NVivo and various others
EndNote Yes Yes Yes No Yes various[15]
JabRef Yes Yes No Yes Yes BibTeXML, DocBook, HTML, OpenDocument for OO.o, RTF, SQL database, user-customizable
KBibTeX Yes Yes No Depends[16] Yes PDF, PostScript, HTML, XML, RTF
Mendeley Yes Yes No No Yes Endnote XML
Paperpile Yes No No No Yes none
Papers Yes Yes No No Yes none
Pybliographer Yes Yes Yes No No Ovid
refbase Yes Yes No Yes Yes COinS, OpenDocument for OO.o, SRW XML via SRU, unAPI, Word XML
RefDB Yes Yes No Yes Yes SRW XML via SRU web service, DocBook, TEI
RefWorks Yes Yes No Yes Yes RIS, BibTeX, Tab delimited or XML metadata
Wikindx Yes Yes No No Yes COinS, HTML, PubMed, RTF
Zotero Yes Yes as of version 4.0[17] Yes Yes COinS, CSV, Several RDF format standards, TEI, Wikipedia citation templates, Endnote XML, CSL JSON, Refer/BiblX, RefWorks tagged

Import file formats[edit]

This table lists the file formats which may be manually imported into the reference managers without needing to connect to one particular database. Many of these database companies use the same name for their file format as they do for their database (including Copac, CSA, ISI, Medline, Ovid, PubMed, and SciFinder). For the ability to retrieve citations from the particular databases (rather than the file format), please refer to the database connectivity table that is below this table.

As of January 2021, CSL YAML is not supported by any reference management system.[18]

Software BibTeX Copac CSA Endnote/Refer/BibIX ISI Medline MODS XML Ovid PubMed RIS SciFinder Other
Bebop Yes No No No No No No No No No No none
BibBase Yes No No No No No No No No No No none
BibDesk Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes MARC, JSTOR, Reference Miner
BibSonomy Yes No No Yes No No No No No No No Firefox bookmarks
Bookends Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes various [3]; user-customizable
Citavi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes various
EndNote No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes various[19]
JabRef Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes BibTexML, Biomail, Inspec, JSTOR, MSBib, PDF widh XMP annotations, REPEC (NEP), SilverPlatter, SixPack
KBibTeX Yes No No Yes No No Depends[16] No Yes Yes No none
Mendeley Yes No No Yes No No No No No Yes No Browser bookmarks
Paperpile Yes No No No No No No No No Yes No PDF
Papers Yes No No Yes No No No No Yes Yes No PDF
Pybliographer Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No none
refbase Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes RefWorks
RefDB Yes Yes[16] No Yes[16] Yes[16] Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes[16] MARC, risx
RefWorks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes various[20]
Wikindx Yes No No Yes No No No Yes Yes No No BibReX LaTeX
Zotero[21] Yes No[22] No[22] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No COinS, MARC, RDF, unAPI, Browser bookmarks, Endnote XML

Citation styles[edit]

Software APA Chicago/Turabian Harvard MLA Other Extension method
Bebop No No No No none none
BibBase Yes No No No none none
BibDesk Yes yes No No various BibDesk export templates
BibSonomy Yes No Yes No none none
Bookends Yes Yes Yes Yes various[citation needed] ?
Citavi Yes Yes Yes Yes 11500+ styles. Styles can be requested and are centrally corrected; any BibTeX style when used with LaTeX. Citavi format (through GUI), includes conditions and programmable components; BibTeX
EndNote Yes Yes Yes Yes 6926 styles EndNote format (through GUI)
JabRef Yes Yes Yes Yes any BibTeX style BibTeX
KBibTeX Yes Yes Yes Yes any BibTeX style BibTeX
Mendeley Yes Yes Yes Yes 9464 styles CSL
Paperpile Yes Yes Yes Yes 9464 styles CSL
Papers Yes Yes Yes Yes 9464 styles BibTeX and CSL
Pybliographer Yes No No No none Pybliographer XML
refbase Yes Yes Yes Yes various polar & marine journals PHP
RefDB Yes Yes Yes Yes 21 biomedical & law journals XML (citestylex.dtd), interactive script
RefWorks Yes Yes Yes Yes 4256, plus CSL styles RefWorks format (through GUI); CSL
Wikindx Yes Yes Yes Yes ABNT, BMJ, IEEE Wikindx format (through GUI)
Zotero Yes Yes Yes Yes 9464 styles. Styles can be edited and requested. CSL

Reference list file formats[edit]

Endnote is incompatible with LaTeX. Among other things, it does not provide for robust citation keys.

Software HTML LaTeX[23] RTF Plain text RSS Other
Bebop Yes No No No Yes unAPI
BibBase Yes No No No Yes No
BibDesk Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Atom, DOC, PDF, XML,
BibSonomy Yes No Yes Yes Yes OpenOffice-CSV
Bookends Yes No Yes Yes No clipboard
Citavi Yes Yes[24] Yes Yes No clipboard, DOC, ODT, PDF, HTML
EndNote Yes No Yes Yes No clipboard, XML
JabRef Yes Yes Yes Yes No clipboard
KBibTeX Yes No Yes No No PDF, PS
Mendeley Yes Yes[25] Yes Yes Yes clipboard, embeddable HTML widget, RSS
Paperpile ? ? ? ? ? ?
Papers Yes No No No No PDF
Pybliographer Yes ? No Yes No No
refbase Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Markdown, PDF, unAPI
RefDB Yes ? Yes Yes No DocBook, TEI
RefWorks Yes No Yes Yes No DOC, ODT
Wikindx Yes No Yes Yes Yes Multiple via BibUtils plug-in
Zotero Yes Possible via plugin[26] Yes Possible via plugins[27] Yes clipboard

Word processor integration[edit]

Some reference management software include support for automatic embedding and (re)formatting of references in word processing programs. This table lists this type of support for Microsoft Word, Pages, Apache OpenOffice / LibreOffice Writer, the LaTeX editors Kile and LyX, and Google Docs. Other programs are able to scan RTF or other textual formats for inserted placeholders which are subsequently formatted. Most reference management programs support copy/paste or drag-and-drop of references into any editor, but this is not meant here.

Software Word for Windows Word for Mac Word Online Pages Apache OpenOffice / LibreOffice Kile/LyX Google Docs RTF scan[28] Other
Bebop No No No No No No No No none
BibBase No No No No No No No No none
BibDesk No No No No No Yes ? ? ?
BibSonomy No No No No No No No No none
Bookends Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No Yes Mellel, Nisus
Citavi Yes Yes No No Only versions prior to 6.0 Yes[29] No Only versions prior to 6.0 LaTeX editors LEd, Texmaker, TeXnicCenter, TeXstudio, TeXworks, WinEdt, WinShell
EndNote Yes Yes No Yes No[30] No No Yes No
JabRef Yes[31] ? ? ? Yes[32] Yes No ? Emacs, Texmaker, TeXstudio, Vim, WinEdt
KBibTeX No ? ? ? No Yes No ? none
Mendeley Yes Partial[33] Yes[34] No Yes No No ? NeoOffice
Paperpile in beta No No No No No Yes No No
Papers Yes Yes Yes[35] Yes[36] Yes No Yes No Manuscripts App, Ulysses, Scrivener
Pybliographer No ? ? ? Yes Yes No ? none
refbase No ? ? ? Yes[37] No No Yes PIRA, MediaWiki, SPIP
RefDB No ? ? ? No No No No none
RefWorks Yes Yes No No No No Yes Yes none
Wikindx WIP WIP WIP No WIP No Yes Yes Integrated WYSIWYG word processor (RTF output)
Zotero Yes Yes No No Yes (with LyZ)[38] Yes Yes Logseq, NeoOffice, Obsidian (with third party plugin), RStudio, Zettlr

Database connectivity[edit]

This table lists the academic databases and search engines which reference managers can import from. In some cases, a search and retrieval can be conducted directly in the reference manager. In others, a bookmarklet or Firefox extension will allow a site to be scraped.

Software ArXiv CiteSeer IEEE Xplore PubMed Unpaywall[39] Other
Bebop No No No No No No
BibBase No No No No No DBLP, Zotero, BibSonomy, Mendeley
BibDesk Yes Yes No Yes No ACM portal, Jstor, DBLP, Google Scholar, Web of Science, any Z39.50 or Entrez, and others
BibSonomy Yes Yes Yes Yes No various[40]
Bookends Yes No No Yes No Web of Science, Amazon, Google Scholar, Z39.50
Citavi Yes Yes Yes Yes No WorldCat/OCLC, Ovid, EBSCO, ProQuest, Web of Science, Z39.50 (4500+ online resources), SRU. Further catalogs are added upon request. Browser plugins (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer) support DOI lookup, ISBN lookup, PubMed ID lookup, PMCID lookup, arXiv ID lookup, COinS and import from Wikipedia.
EndNote Yes No Yes Yes No various[41] any Z39.50
JabRef Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[42] ACM Portal, CrossRef, DBLP, DOAJ, DOI, GVK, Google Scholar, INSPIRE-HEP, Medline, MathSciNet, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System, Springer, and zbMATH
KBibTeX Yes Yes Yes Yes No BibSonomy, CiteBase, CSB, DBLP, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, INSPIRE-HEP, Z MATH, Z39.50
Mendeley Yes Yes Yes Yes No various [4]
Paperpile Yes No No Yes No Google Scholar
Papers Yes No Yes Yes No Microsoft Academic, Google Scholar
Pybliographer No No No Yes No none
refbase Yes No No Yes No DOI lookup
RefDB Yes No No Yes No any Z39.50
RefWorks No No No Yes No various
Wikindx No No No Yes No No
Zotero Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[43] various[44]

Password "protection" and network versions[edit]

Some reference managers provide network functionality. (N/A means the product has no networking, while "no" indicates it does (but lacks an implemented feature).)

Software Passworded Networking
User-specific permissions[45] Simultaneous write access
Bebop No
BibBase
BibDesk Yes No No
BibSonomy Yes Yes Yes
Bookends ? ? ?
Citavi Yes[46] Yes Yes
EndNote Yes No[47] No[47]
JabRef No No Partial
KBibTeX No
Mendeley Yes[48] Yes Yes
Paperpile Yes[49] Yes Yes
Papers Yes Yes Yes[50]
Pybliographer ? ? ?
refbase Yes Yes Yes
RefDB Yes Yes Yes
RefWorks Yes ? Yes
Wikindx Yes Yes Yes
Zotero Yes[51] Yes Yes

Discontinued software[edit]

Software Developer First public release Latest stable release date Latest stable version Cost (USD) Free software License Notes
Biblioscape CG Information 1997 2015-06-22 10.0.3.6 US$79-299[3] No Proprietary ODBC; web access in Pro ed; optional client/server; discontinued?
Bibus Bibus developers 2004-06-03 Discontinued 1.5.1 Free Yes GNU GPL
CiteULike Oversity Limited 2004-11 Shut down in 2019-03-30[52] Free No proprietary[53] centrally hosted website
colwiz colwiz Ltd 2011 2016-05-09 Free / Online storage free up to 3 GB / Additional storage space available No Proprietary Now combined with wizdom.ai
Qiqqa Qiqqa 2010-04 2020-10-04 v80 Free Yes GNU GPL From end 2020, Open Source
Reference Manager Thomson Reuters 1984 2010 12.0.3 Not for sale anymore, sales ceased December 31, 2015 No Proprietary network version; built-in web publishing tool; discontinued
Referencer Referencer developers 2008-03-15 Discontinued 1.2.2 Free Yes GNU GPL BibTeX front-end
RefME RefME 2014 Shut down in 2017 Free No Proprietary Web, iOS and Android; Chrome and Safari Extensions available; discontinued
SciRef Scientific Programs 2012 2020-07-30 1.6.2 US$38.90 / Free trial version No Proprietary
Sente Third Street Software, Inc. 2004 Shut down in 2017 6.7.9 US$60–80[3] / Free for libraries up to 100 refs No Proprietary Desktop and iPad, centralized backup/synching; discontinued
WizFolio WizPatent 2008-06 Shut down in 2017 Avatara US$25 / Free Basic version No Proprietary centrally hosted website; discontinued

References[edit]

  1. ^ "dev.bibsonomy". BibSonomy.org. 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  2. ^ "Update History | Sonny Software". Sonny Software. 2016-11-10. Archived from the original on 2017-11-12. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  3. ^ a b c d MSRP for full version, usually with physical media. Discounted downloads and academic discounts might be available. More expensive workgroup/server/librarian versions may be available.
  4. ^ "QSR International Acquires Citavi". QSR International. 2021-02-18. Archived from the original on 2021-02-18. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  5. ^ Price depends on affiliation (discounted price for students and members of academic, governmental, and nonprofit organizations), edition (Citavi for Windows for single users and teams with cloud storage, Citavi for DBServer for teams with intranet storage), and, in the case of DBServer, on the license type (per seat license vs. concurrent license), http://www.citavi.com/en/products.html Archived 2015-04-27 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Collaborating in a Team with Citavi for DBServer". Swiss Academic Software. 2018-02-20. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  7. ^ "Citavi – Organize your knowledge". Swiss Academic Software. 2018-02-20. Archived from the original on 2015-04-24. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  8. ^ A centrally-hosted website is available at refbase.net.
  9. ^ "Zotero Changelog". Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  10. ^ a b "Mendeley Refocusing Announcement".
  11. ^ "Paperpile on Android".
  12. ^ a b The GUI requires gnome-python, which isn't available for Windows or macOS.
  13. ^ "Write-N-Cite Download Page". www.refworks.com. 2018-04-10. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Yohan Farouz.net". Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Output Styles". EndNote. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Supported through the bibutils plugin
  17. ^ "Journal Abbreviations". Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  18. ^ Fenner, Martin (30 July 2013). "Citeproc YAML for bibliographies". Gobbledygook. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  19. ^ "Import Filters". EndNote. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  20. ^ "Products". RefWorks. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  21. ^ "Zotero supported data formats". Zotero.org. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  22. ^ a b Zotero can import references directly from the database after which this format is named, although it cannot read the format itself.
  23. ^ This refers to the direct output of raw LaTeX (often in a format similar to the BibTeX-generated .bbl files). Many programs can export BibTeX (see above table), which can then be processed into LaTeX."Creating a Publication with TeX". Swiss Academic Software. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  24. ^ Database can be exported as a whole in BibTeX format. Text (i.e. thoughts, comments, and quotations) can be fed into a number of TeX editors in LaTeX code or UTF-8,
  25. ^ Database can be exported as a whole in BibTeX format.Insert citations via citation key generated by Mendeley ,
  26. ^ "Better BibTeX". Github. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  27. ^ "Plugins for Zotero". Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  28. ^ Can reformat references in a properly saved RTF document, allowing limited use in OpenOffice.org Writer, StarOffice, FrameMaker, Microsoft Works, WordPad, WordPerfect, Google Docs and others.
  29. ^ Detailed setup guide "Citavi + LyX". Citavi. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
  30. ^ "EndNote X8 with LibreOffice – Clarivate Community". 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  31. ^ See JabRef FAQ: Field Mapping between MS-Office and JabRef.
  32. ^ See JabRef FAQ: OpenOffice/LibreOffice integration.
  33. ^ Requires the Desktop App open to choose references.
  34. ^ Requires the Mendeley Cite Add-in
  35. ^ Requires the SmartCite for Papers Add-in
  36. ^ Can be used with SmartCite for Citekeys
  37. ^ Refbase can create a spreadsheet for import into an OO.o database to use the native OO.o bibliography tool. Refbase's MySQL database can additionally be used directly by OO.o [1].
  38. ^ The LyZ extension integrates Zotero with Lyx/Kile
  39. ^ Includes all the other databases and open access repositories.
  40. ^ "scraper info". BibSonomy. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  41. ^ "Connection Files". EndNote. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  42. ^ "Unpaywall". docs.jabref.org. Retrieved Jun 3, 2022.
  43. ^ "Improved PDF retrieval with Unpaywall integration". Zotero Blog. 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  44. ^ "translators [Zotero Documentation]". Zotero.org. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  45. ^ Most databases allow one to create different user accounts to store records. Some further allow you to specify permissions (granting and denying some users the rights to edit or read some or all of your records). This column describes the latter.
  46. ^ Storage in Citavi cloud or, with special license, in Microsoft SQL Server in intranet.
  47. ^ a b via EndNote basic (cloud based)
  48. ^ via Mendeley Web
  49. ^ uses Google Account
  50. ^ via shared library
  51. ^ via zotero.org
  52. ^ "CiteULike is closing down". CiteULike. Archived from the original on 10 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  53. ^ A developer kit is available. The community is invited to create plugins to access data off databases

Bibliography[edit]