Zotero Vs. EndNote: Optimizing Writing Citation Management

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Citation management tools have evolved substantially in the past 20 years. While initial software developments created in the 1980s evolved into complex and highly capable databases by the turn of the century, evolutions since then have given rise to modern feature implementations, such as social networking options and managerial functions for .PDFs.

Zotero vs. EndNote

Among the most popular software applications have been Zotero and EndNote, with varying comparative advantage having potential for varying optimal results for different user interests.


EndNote was initially released in the late ‘80s, and has become accessible for use online. The online version has limited features, but has been free for people to use. If you’re buying EndNote for the first time, the full EndNote 20 license costs $249.95, with the student license being $115.95.

Zotero, meanwhile, is also free with 300 MB of storage, following its initial release in 2006. That said, users can upgrade for the following:

  • 300 MB Free
  • 2 GB $20/year (equal to $1.67 per month)
  • 6 GB $60/year (equal to $5 per month)
  • Unlimited 1) $120/year (equal to $10 per month)

Screenshot of Endnote benefits from endnote.com October 2022

Browser Compatibility

Endnote has the Endnote Click Chrome browser extension, and Zotero connectors can be downloaded for use with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. For Safari, “The Zotero Connector for Safari is bundled with Zotero. You can enable it from the Extensions pane of the Safari preferences.”


In terms of collaboration, Endnote permits users sharing citation collections with read-only or reading and writing options, while Zotero users are permitted to collaborate through shared citation libraries with varying accessibility restriction features.

As noted by the Berkeley Library with Zotero:

“Zotero groups allow you to share and collaborate with others in private or public groups you can create. You can also join an existing public Zotero group by searching for it, or be invited to a group by its owner.”

Here is a video on sharing with EndNote:

Acquisition of Citations

Regarding the acquisition of citations, EndNote allows exporting citations from databases as well as manual citations, while Zotero allows users to click browser icons for saving citations in addition to manual citations.

EndNote permits users to attach .PDFs through linking and storage functions to a basic library, and Zotero allows users to link and store web pages and files to a collection for online or offline use.

EndNote connection files screenshot:

While Zotero presently does not allow users to find duplicate entries, this has been a preferred feature for EndNote users. Endnote allows users to cite while writing with a plugin installations, and Zotero has a similar feature for comparable functionality.

Zotero and EndNote Differences

Considering all of these aspects, the primary differences that users have been concerned with in purchase decisions have been that

  • Zotero is superior in ingesting non-pdf information
  • EndNote allows users to customize references while Zotero does not have a format for it
  • EndNote allows more unusual document types than Zotero does
  • EndNote is superior to Zotero in handling larger-sized libraries of citations
  • Zotero has been regarded as easier to use overall amid a lesser amount of features.

As the software has continued to improve and is expected to improve further, Zotero’s browser add-on was easier to use while capturing more information in an accurate manner by comparison.

Naturally users have preferred a combination of usefulness and ease of use for a value that they regard as sufficiently appropriate, and this combination of variables have continued to fluctuation in both developmental aspects as well as sales.

Here is a video comparing Zotero, EndNote, and a third option, Mendeley:

Support provided by institutions has been among these factors, and research demands and familiarity with products are also encompassed aspects that have been determining factors in the direction of demanded developments and sales.

When users have demand for larger projects such as highly encompassing systematic reviews with large volumes of literature as datasets, they are willing to pay more for highly developed features than users who have a higher volume of smaller projects.

Technology, lastly, is expected to have a bearing role in development direction as sales continue.

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