University Library

How to Organize References and Knowledge

What do reference management programs offer?

Reference management programs can help you (depending on the program):

  • Clearly organize and sort your references from library catalogs and databases
  • Quickly and easily cite in your texts
  • Quickly and easily compile and export a bibliography
  • Format references in your preferred citation style
  • Easily coordinate work in teams
  • Create and organize notes, excerpts, and categories for your references

The University Library’s Knowledge Portal Primo supports downloading search results using the RIS format. This enables a convenient export of bibliographic data into common reference management programs.

Video: Organizing literature efficiently

This video describes how reference management systems can help organize the literature research process.

Video by: Economics and Management Library

Duration: 3:27 min

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Video: From Citavi to Zotero - Keeping track in the chaos of literature (German only)

In diesem Video erklären wir Ihnen, was Literaturverwaltungsprogramme sind und vergleichen Citavi und Zotero.

Dauer: 10:43 min

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Overview of Selected Reference Management Programs

SystemFeaturesRequirements for useCostCourses of the University Library
ZoteroLocal (single user) and web-based, Easy to use, Quick import of literature data, Working with pdfs and creating notes, Good integration of text editing programs (Word, LibreOffice, Google Docs), Open source, Different apps & tools via APIWindows, Mac, Linux Web: platform independentDesktop version: Free of charge, Web version: first 300MB of file storage free (PDFs etc.), additional free storage via tubCloudCourses for Zotero
CitaviProgram: Local system (single user) and web-based, projects: can be saved locally and in the cloud, easy to use, advanced features, easy integration into Word Focus: reference management, knowledge organizationDesktop version: Windows only, web version: platform-independentFull version free for TU members (Campus licence)Courses for beginners and advanced
EndNoteLocal (single user) and web-based, streamlined, relatively technical, Collaboration possible using Endnote OnlineWindows, Mac. Endnote Online/Basic: platform independentFull version: reduced price for TU units. Student price (price list).
Endnote Basic: free of charge, advanced functions available to TU members
MendeleyLocal (single user) and web-based, Integrated reference management and academic network (with focus on the natural sciences), Different apps & tools via APIWindows, Mac, Linux. Web version: platform independentDesktop version: free of charge Web version: first 2 GB free 
JabRefLocal (single user) and web-based, Easy collaboration with different LaTeX editors, Allows you to keep track of what you read and assign ranking, relevance, and priority values, Collaboration only possible via a joint SQL databaseWindows, Mac, Linux Web version: platform independentFree of charge 

Find the Right Citation Style

You can use the “Find and edit CSL citation styles” page to:

  • Find citation styles by style name (e.g. APA or Harvard) or by journal title ("Search by name")
  • Search for citation styles via “Search by example” by entering an exemplary reference and receive offers of similar citation styles
  • Download and use citation styles (e.g. for Zotero and Mendeley, see below)
  • Edit citation styles (e.g. for Zotero and Mendeley, see below)  User guide for the CSL Editor

The citation styles are offered in CSL format, which you can use with these software products. Among others, Zotero and Mendeley use this format.

Citavi and Endnote users: These programs work with different citation style formats. If you use Citavi or Endnote, you can still search for styles on the “Find and edit CSL citation styles” page. However, it is not possible to edit and download into your respective program. To do this, search for the styles within Citavi or Endnote and edit there.

Reference management progams


Zotero is a free reference management tool. It can be used as a standalone version on your computer and additionally after registration in the browser.


Citavi is a windows-based software for reference management and knowledge organization. TU members can use citavi free of charge. Instructions and hints can be found here.


EndNote, a reference management software, offers a number of features and is available both as a desktop and web version. Members of TU Berlin can purchase EndNote at a reduced price.

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