Reference management tools

Reference management software and tools

Reference management software is used for two key things:

  • Organising: collate, store, and organise your source references, and in some cases the related full text PDF articles.
  • Generating references: use the reference information you have captured to generate in-text citations and/or references.

Examples of popular reference management software include: 

  • EndNote
  • Zotero
  • Mendeley  

The Library provides access to a range of support for EndNote.

Reference generator tools can be found on many websites including our own Library Search or individual online journals, and they allow you to quickly capture a reference in the style of your choice.  Generative AI is also becoming increasingly common as a tool to support the generation of references and in-text citations.

To be effective, referencing software and tools rely on two key things:

  • that the content extracted from the academic database, website, or search engine you’ve used is accurate (it is not always accurate)
  • that the formatting rules of the style you’re using are interpreted correctly (they are not always correct).


We highly recommend reference management software such as EndNote for collating, storing and organising large numbers of references and associated files.

These tools can be useful if you are;

  • working with a large number of sources (upwards of 50) and
  • are confident with your IT skills and learning new software
  • are confident with referencing and the style you’re using.


The University does not currently allow the use of reference management software for units of study without the permission of the Unit Coordinator. You can find out more about that in the Academic Integrity Policy.

We do not generally recommend this software or the web tools for automatically generating references if you are:

  • working with a small number of sources (less than 50) and
  • are not confident with your IT skills or learning new software
  • are not confident with referencing and the style you’re using

There are no shortcuts to understanding a style, and to learning how to use a new piece of software.  It’s important that you take time to study the relevant published style manual or guide in detail.

Using software and tools with success

If you do decide to use referencing software because you’re confident with your knowledge of the style and your IT skills, there are two important things to check when a reference is generated;

  • that the reference format produced is consistent with the published style and
  • that the information about the source is accurate

If you choose to make use of software such as EndNote, you’ll need to learn how to import and store references, as well as how to use and adapt output styles to create your references in Microsoft Word.

Use our EndNote support page to learn more.

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