Reference Managers

Whether it’s writing essays, gathering research or doing a literature review reference managers can be a huge help in organising your references. They can help you collect information about everything you have read and allow you to easily add citations and bibliographies to your documents.

There is a large variety of Reference Managers available on the market. Some gather references and allow you to make bibliographies. Others allow you to do all this and can also insert correctly formatted citations into a word processor. Full details are available on our reference management guide.

Choosing a reference Manager

Choosing the correct reference manager for you can be challenging. Check out our guide on Choosing a Reference Manager to compare major tools and see which is best for you. There are also some reference managers that are freely available to members of the Universirty.


Oxford has the institutional subscription to RefWorks. Create a free account with your University email. Check out our resource of the month post for more information on RefWorks. RefWorks Citation Manager, for Microsoft Word 2016 and later, is compatible with the cloud-based Microsoft Word 365. This can added formatted citations into your word document from your RefWorks library.


EndNote can be used as a desktop or web-based application. The desktop version of EndNote has more features and is free for University of Oxford members to use while they are members of the institution. EndNote is available for free download from the IT Services shop website. The word processor plugin Cite While You Write is added to Microsoft Word automatically upon installation of the EndNote desktop software, so you can add references directly from your library to your document.


Zotero is a freely available desktop-based reference manager and can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux computers. It is freely downloadable from the Zotero website. The word processor plugin enables you to cite references from your Zotero library into your word processed document.

Latex and Bibtex

LaTeX is a freely available typesetting system that allows you to produce professional looking publications. Many people find that LaTeX is particularly useful for working with long documents or for documents that contain mathematical formulae or equations. It is a popular system for those preparing scientific and technical documents. You can create documents with LaTeX using any one of large number of different LaTeX editors, or even by just using a plain text editor like Windows Notepad.

BibTeX is a program that works with LaTeX to allow you to include in-text citations and a bibliography in your document. Many reference managers offer some level of support for working with LaTeX and BibTeX. You can find out more on the Latex page of our guide and


Along with the details information on our guide there are also training sessions on Reference Managers every term. Why not sign up for one of these sessions:


iSkills: Endnote – Tue 14 Nov – 10.00-12.00

iSkills: Zotero – Thu 16 Nov – 10.30-11.30

In person

iSkills Zotero – Wed 8 Nov – 13.30-16.30
Thames Suite, IT Services
7-19 Banbury Road, Oxon, OX2 6NN


Check out our Resource of the Month – November

The RSL has a huge collection of physical and electronic materials. We have so much that we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of our items whether recently added or an existing collection item. The resources are recommended by our knowledgeable subject librarians who are excited to show off parts of the collection for their subject.

Text that says resource of the month over small images of books, computer equipment and scientific equipment

This month’s selector is:

Ollie Bridle

Photo of Ollie Bridle

Ollie Bridle

Ollie has selected RefWorks.

RefWorks logo

Brief Description

Creating reference lists for your essays can be a pain! It’s easy to lose track of all the papers you’ve been reading and formatting your references so that all the commas and italics are in the right place may not be the most fun part of academic writing. Fortunately, RefWorks can help! RefWorks is reference management software that helps you keep track of all the books and articles you are reading. It gives you a single place to store details about these documents for later citing and referencing in your assignments. Better still, RefWorks can automatically format your in-text citations and reference lists in hundreds of different citation styles saving you time.

  • Free for Oxford University members.
  • Works online from any computer.
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows.
  • Cite using Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
  • Lots of training and support available.
  • Alumni access – you can carry on using RefWorks for free even when you’ve finished your studies at Oxford.
Photograph showing close up of hands typing on a laptop keyboard.

Image by janeb13 (Pixabay)

Who is this useful for?

Anybody at any level of the University who is involved in scientific writing – everything from undergraduate assignments to your thesis and research papers.

How can I access it?

You can access RefWorks from any web-browser by going to You must set up a free account to use the software. When setting up your account, we recommend using the ‘Create Account’ option rather than the ‘Use login for my Institution’ option. Please ensure you sign-up using your Oxford University e-mail account.

For help using RefWorks, contact your Subject Librarian ( or attend one of our free RefWorks courses –

Reference management

Whether it’s writing essays, gathering research or doing a literature review reference managers can be a huge help in organising your references. They can help you collect information about everything you have read and allow you to easily add citations and bibliographies to your documents.

The word "Reference" written on a notebook on blue marker.

Image by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

Knowing which reference manager to use can be confusing but we have made a guide to help you look at several different reference management tools. We also have a guide on using Reference Management packages with Latex.

If you are creating your references manually or just want to know more about different referencing styles, check out Cite Them Right! An online referencing tools which gives examples and generates citations from a choice of 7 referencing systems for print and electronic formats.