Best Citation Software: What Are the Options?

Are you looking for the best citation software that can handle different citation styles? Learn more in this article.

If you are producing academic work, such as a research paper, then you probably want to follow MLA, APA, or Chicago format, use the right annotations, and present a professional, finished product. This includes your citations; however, it can take a lot of time to type up your reference list at the end. That is where citation management software can be helpful. There are plenty of reference management software programs available, and you need to use citation management tools that make the process as easy as possible. 

If you are looking for the best citation software, take a look at the options below. Find the right program to meet your needs. 

The best citation software

1.  Endnote

Price: $110. 30-day free trial available

With Endnote, you get access to unlimited storage for no additional charge

Uses: Best for those looking for a comprehensive citation program.

Endnote has been around for years, so it has been refined over multiple generations since its inception. Endnote has a number of significant benefits, including its automatic PDF downloads. It can be used across multiple platforms, and it has a wide variety of tools that integrate seamlessly with other applications. Through this program, you can share PDFs with an unlimited number of people.

  • You can import multiple references into the program with ease.
  • The program provides support for a wide variety of citation styles.
  • You get access to unlimited storage for no additional charge. 
  • The automatic PDF downloader is exceptional.
  • The program is mainly meant for desktop use, with other platforms being a bit clunky.
  • It is one of the most expensive options available.
  • The web sync feature is a challenge to use and takes a long time to set up.

2.  Zotero

Price: Free up to 15 GB as long as you have Google Drive

Zotero is free and compatible across multiple platforms

Uses: Best for anyone who is looking for a free, open-source software program. 

Zotero is one of the most popular citation programs available, and it is one of the few programs that is compatible with Linux. It is a cross-platform program that features a Firefox plug-in, is compatible with Microsoft Word, and lets you export your references and just about any file format.

Even though the default storage option isn’t significant, you can increase your default storage if you have access to Google Drive. There might be some programs that have flashier features, but this is a great way to support an open-source program that benefits researchers everywhere. 

  • The program is free and compatible across multiple platforms.
  • Create an option if you want to share the PDF files with others.
  • Integrates well with Microsoft Word. 
  • The desktop application was designed for Firefox, so it can be clunky.
  • Free file storage is limited.
  • There’s no built-in PDF annotator. 

3. Mendeley

Price: Starts at $5 per month, but no free trial is available

Mendeley has drag and drop features that make it easy to organize citations

Uses: Best for research departments that are looking for a program that can handle multiple types of academic citations.

Mendeley is a citation program that is ideal for departments with multiple users. The program is perfect for keeping references organized, sharing references with other people, and annotating documents. The collaborative features are what set this program apart from the others.

The program is great for research staff teams that need to organize references in different formats ranging from MLA to APA and Chicago style citations. While the program can be a challenge for those without an academic background, it is still one of the strongest citation programs available.

  • Makes it very easy for you to collaborate with other people.
  • Can handle a wide variety of citations ranging from MLA to APA and others.
  • The program has drag and drop features that make it easy to organize citations.
  • Mendeley has powerful organizing features that make it easy to keep track of citations across multiple documents.
  • The servers go down from time to time, which can be frustrating.
  • This program can be hard to use for those who do not have a background in academics.
  • Mendeley does not automatically sync across multiple files or folders, which can be an obstacle.

4.  ReadCube Papers

Price: Starts at $3 per month for a single user or $20 per month for the Enterprise package

ReadCube Papers
ReadCube Papers integrates well with Microsoft Word

Uses: Best for those who have projects that already have a clearly defined scope.

ReadCube Papers is another program that can help you handle your citations. The program excels if you have a project with well-defined topics, as you can divide work among multiple people and handle citations easily. This program also works well with Microsoft Word. While it can be a bit clunky if you need to move citations from document to document, ReadCube Papers can streamline the process, making sure that your citations are accurate before you submit your work for review.

  • The user interface is easy to follow.
  • ReadCube Papers integrates well with Microsoft Word.
  • This is one of the least expensive programs available.
  • The customer support team leaves a lot to be desired.
  • If you have older PDF documents, they will not be compatible with this program.
  • The citations and annotations are not compatible with Adobe Acrobat.

5.  EasyBib

Price: There is a free version. The paid version starts at $10 per month. There is no free trial available.

Easybib features a variety of flowcharts and infographics that make for powerful instructional tools

Uses: EasyBib is an ideal program for students and teachers who want to show others how to do citations.

If you are looking for a helpful program that can make citations easier for students, then you will definitely want to check out EasyBib. The program comes with a built-in bibliography creator that can make it easier for you to handle citations and annotation.

This is a program that also comes with a variety of other writing resources, including writing guides and grammar lessons. There are plenty of videos that can make it easier for people to learn how to do MLA and APA citations. The program also has flowcharts and infographics that can also help with the process.

  • Program comes with helpful videos that can explain how to properly do citations.
  • Has a built-in bibliography creator that makes the process easier.
  • Features a variety of flowcharts and infographics that make for powerful instructional tools.
  • There is no free trial available and the free version is a bit lacking.
  • The program is a bit slow for those who already know exactly what they want to do.
  • The user interface and graphics look a bit dated.

6.  Bibtex

Price: Free

You can cite your sources in different ways when using BibTex, including APA, MLA, and Chicago formats

Uses: Best for those looking for a consistent management program that works on multiple platforms.

Bibtex is a reference management software program that can help you compile multiple lists of references. Usually, this program is combined with another program that can help you compile references called LaTeX. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to cite your sources in a consistent manner. It was first released in 1985, and it is updated from time to time, with the last update being in 2010. 

  • The program is straightforward and easy to use.
  • You can cite your sources in different ways, including APA, MLA, and Chicago formats.
  • You can export them to multiple platforms.
  • The program’s interface can look very outdated.
  • You will need to learn both LaTeX and Bibtext to take full advantage of the program.
  • The program itself takes some practice to use.

7. Paperpile

Price: $36 per year

Paperpile comes with customizable keyboard shortcuts

Uses: Best for those looking to publish research documents in academic journals.

Finally, you might also want to consider Paperpile. This is a very simple citation and reference manager that can help you streamline your workflow. It has been designed to work well with Google Chrome and was designed by academic professionals who were looking for a way to make citations easier.

Using this program, you can organize your sources with ease, keeping track of what citations correspond to what information in your piece. The program is compatible with a wide range of document formats, and you can even add citations to your work as you go through Google Docs. Finally, you can customize your keyboard shortcuts to make the process easier.

  • Can handle a wide variety of document formats.
  • Can insert a citation with just a few clicks. 
  • Comes with customizable keyboard shortcuts.
  • There is no free version.
  • Does not contain a lot of automation features.
  • Cannot work without internet access.

Selection Criteria

There are several factors that we considered during our selection process. Some of the factors we considered during our ranking include:

  • Ease of Use: We considered how easy each program was to use. The easier the program is to use, the better it is. We looked for integrations and browser plugin options, such as Chrome and Safari. Developing citations can be time-consuming, so the faster the program can help you handle your citations, the higher we ranked them.
  • Value for Money: We also considered the features you got for your money. Even though having too many features can be overwhelming, customizability is usually a good thing. Programs that are more expensive can be beneficial if they give you access to features you will actually use.
  • Compatibility Across Multiple Platforms: Everyone uses a slightly different platform, so we looked for program compatibility across multiple platforms. Is it easy to use the program on PC and Mac products? Does it work well on mobile devices? Will it work well on IOS and Android? The more compatible the program is, the better it should work. 

After considering all of these factors, we developed the ranking list above to help you find the best citation software to meet your needs. 

Why You Can Trust Me

You have multiple software programs available, so you might be wondering why you can trust these reviews. Some of the most important reasons why you should trust my review process include:

  • Personally Tried: I have tried all of these programs myself to see which ones work best for my needs. I used them to develop an individual list of citations to see how easy the process was.
  • Published Author: I have experience producing citations in a variety of formats for various publications. I understand what is required to write a good, accurate citation, and I used these programs to produce my own citations.
  • Solicited Other Opinions: Finally, I spoke with other people who publish content on a regular basis to see what programs they use. I incorporated their opinions as I was trying to figure out how to rank each of these individual programs.

After talking to other people, trying these programs, and using them to make my own citations, I developed the ranking list above to help you find the right citation program to meet your needs. 

Final Word on the Best Citation Software

These are just a few of the many programs from which you can choose. If you need to add bibliographies to your work, there are plenty of citation styles available. You might be looking at EDU websites, trying to figure out the best way to add on your citations.

You should consider the benefits and drawbacks of each of these programs before you decide which one is right for your knee. That way, you can format your reference list appropriately while saving as much time as possible. 

FAQs About the Best Citation Software

Are there any other citation management programs I should consider?

Yes, you may want to consider a few other options, such as Mendeley and RefWorks. There is no single best program out there. You need to think about your specific needs and compare them to the features of each individual program. 

Why should I use a citation software program?

You need to use a citation management software program because it can help you save time while ensuring the accuracy of your references. That way, you can give credit where credit is due while getting the most out of your writing time. 

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