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Zotero & Mendeley Guide

An instructional guide on how to use citation managers Zotero and Mendeley.

How Do I Select a Reference Manager? Compare the features

A reference manager is a software package designed for students, scholars, and authors to help them save, organize, share, and use references in research and writing. St. Catherine University supports two freely available reference managers, Zotero and Mendeley. 

Please review the information below, and the individual pages for Zotero and Mendeley to help you decide which program will best meet your needs.

Please note that there is no perfect reference management program. You will encounter errors and glitches with all of them. Be patient, and contact a librarian or for troubleshooting assistance.

Zotero logo

Reasons to choose Zotero:

  • Web browser plugin provides one-click capture of citations to articles, books, web pages, etc
  • Best choice for capturing web-based and other non-standard sources (i.e., non-journal or book)
  • Unlimited number of both private and public online groups to share citations and PDFs.   
  • Good for entry-level researcher. 


  • Clunkier user interface.
  • Less free cloud storage (approximately 100 articles).

Mendeley logo

Reasons to choose Mendeley:

  • Best if your research content is primarily PDFs or have a large number of PDFs that you want to import.
  • Can highlight and add notes to PDFs within Mendeley.
  • Provides academic social network and searchable shared database of citations retrieved by Mendeley users.
  • More cloud storage than Zotero.
  • Used by researchers in the hard sciences.


  • No Google Docs functionality.
  • Not screen reader compatible.
  • Limited number of private groups.
  • It’s owned by Elsevier (they have begun to encrypt Mendeley users’ databases, which means it is very hard to get your data out of Mendeley if you want to use a different product).

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