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Managing your references: Home

Purpose of this guide

This guide is for students at the University of Oxford who are seeking information about the tools available to manage references when writing a research project or extended essay. These tools will enable students to correctly and efficiently produce in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies.


Reference managers store bibliographic information electronically, whether on a desktop computer or in a cloud-based application. The references are stored in a 'library'.

Reference managers allow you to:

  • directly export references from search engines, library catalogues and databases to the reference manager
  • manage references by using folders and tags and facilitates the search and deletion of duplicate references
  • share your references with colleagues
  • store full text PDFs with the relevant references
  • cite references in your chosen referencing style

To insert references into your written work, you need to use a piece of software called a plugin. The plugin connects your word processor with the reference manager. The plugin will automatically format your references according to the referencing style you choose and you can easily switch reference style.

Reference managers helps you to keep track of your reading and references. They enable you to collect, store and manage bibliographic references as well as insert your references into word processed documents.

Reference managers can save you time collecting references and facilitates organising and locating your references. They automatically format references according to your preferred referencing style, improving the accuracy, although it is still important to check the accuracy of the references you collect and that they are formatted according to the style you use.

Choosing which reference manager to use

The Bodleian Libraries supports four reference management software solutions:

The links above take you through to further information about each reference manager, including their system requirements, installation and where to get further help. Alternatively, take a look at the page Choosing a Reference Manager.

The video below is the introductory presentation for the iSkills workshop 'Choosing and Using Software for Referencing' and runs through the main features of reference managers and considers the issues to think about when choosing a reference manager.

Click the upward facing arrow at the bottom of the video to see the contents.

Contact us

If you're having an issue with a reference management tool, please email us. Give us as much information as you can, particularly:

  • Your department/faculty or subject area
  • The reference manager you are using (Zotero, RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • The operating system of the machine you are using (Windows 10, macOS Big Sur etc.)
  • The browser you are using (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari etc.)
  • The word processor you are using (Word, Pages etc.)


Bodleian iSkills

The Bodleian Libraries run workshops during University term time on RefWorks, EndNote and Zotero. Visit the workshops webpage for dates and booking details, as well as webinar recordings, PowerPoint presentations and handouts:

Study Skills at Oxford

The University provides a set of study skills guides. These include information about plagiarism and referencing, which can be used in conjunction with the reference management software solutions outlined on this guide to support your studies and research: