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Reference Management Software

What is reference management software?

It is important to record the details of all the sources you use. There are tools available to help you easily store, manage, and format your references. 

Reference management software, often also known as citation management software, helps you build up an electronic list of references for your research and major assignments.

If you use a reference management software program, you can store all the references for books, journal articles, and other resources that you have used in your research or for your assignments in one place, and create a bibliography in the style that you want.


Reference management software programs usually allow you to:

  • collect references, from your favourite databases and websites
  • organise your references into different folders (e.g. a different one for each assignment or area of research)
  • add notes to your references and keep them in your collection of citations
  • capture PDFs, images, and web pages and other files
  • keep the links to full text articles, web pages and other documents
  • generate bibliographies
  • format citations in the style that you want (e.g. Harvard)


Some also have additional features such as:

  • create groups to share references or to collaborate with work colleagues
  • PDF highlighting
  • social networking

Which package is right for me?

In this guide we do not aim to recommend one particular referencing program, as each has its own features.

The following tips may be worth considering:

  • look at which program your colleagues or other students are using, particularly if you want to share your research.
  • have a look at several of the programs and use the one you feel most comfortable with. Remember, there is no one perfect program.
  • you could consider using more than one program, as it is often possible to transfer records between them.

The University has a subscription to EndNote, available through Blackboard (Course Resources) under the 'Software Downloads' option. More information about Endnote can be found on the next page. 

There are many free reference management programs available and you will need to evaluate these to decide which one you prefer and suits your needs. As a starting point you may want to have a look at: