What are the uses of a reference manager?

Managing and citing references can be a time-consuming and frustrating task. Fortunately, reference managers have emerged as indispensable tools for collecting, organizing, and citing sources. They have various uses and benefits that can help you streamline your research.

⇨ What is a reference manager?

Here are some of the main uses of a reference manager:

  1. Efficient reference organization:
    • Create folders, tags, or collections for categorizing references.
    • Easily locate and retrieve specific references.
  2. Centralized reference library:
    • Import references from various sources into a unified platform.
    • Access your entire reference library from one place.
  3. Citation management:
    • Automate the creation of in-text citations and bibliographies.
    • Ensure accuracy and consistency in citation formatting.
  4. Time-saving bibliography creation:
    • Generate properly formatted bibliographies in different citation styles.
    • Eliminate the need for manual formatting and save time.
  5. Collaboration and sharing:
    • Share references or libraries with colleagues for seamless collaboration.
    • Simplify communication and exchange of references within a team.
  6. Annotation and note-taking:
    • Highlight important sections, add comments, and create summaries within PDF documents.
    • Extract key insights and effectively organize findings.
  7. Enhanced research discovery:
    • Integration with academic databases and search functionalities.
    • Discover new research papers and stay up-to-date in your field.


A reference manager like Paperpile, for example, saves you time because you can access your papers and references from any logged-in device. Google Docs and Drive integrations make it easy to create references directly in your work. Paperpile also allows you to create a bibliography in any citation style—including journal-specific styles.

“Paperpile is one place to organize all your PDF documents, including scientific papers and books. Being able to access them through Google Drive is a game changer.”

-Research Scientist, Boston Dynamics AI Institute

Paperpile offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, allowing you to save references from webpages with a single click.

Read more about reference managers:

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All your papers in one place. Nice and tidy.