Zotero – a free alternative

Create a spot-on reference in APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and other styles

Select a source type:

What is Zotero?

Zotero is a reference management software widely used by students from different countries and available as the Zotero standalone desktop application.

What are the pros and cons of the Zotero citation generator?


  • Zotero is free of charge;
  • it is a bibliographic manager used at many universities;
  • the service has the Zotero Word plugin and the integration with Google Docs;
  • Zotero allows searching for the metadata of sources across multiple databases.


  • Zotero is only available as either a Windows app or the Zotero Mac version. You cannot use Zotero from your browser: the Zotero Chrome or Zotero Firefox versions simply do not exist;
  • Zotero is very hard to master and is one of the least user-friendly citation managers. You need to spend days on learning how to use Zotero;
  • you need to download Zotero, install Zotero, and adjust it, which means that you need to spend your time again to make it work;
  • while being regarded widely as an ‘industry standard’, Zotero often delivers incorrect or incomplete citations, including in widely popular international citation styles such as APA, MLA, or Chicago;
  • all Zotero styles are not supported by the developers of Zotero directly: this is a ready-to-use open-source code also shared by Mendeley, Citethisforme, and the like, which means that Zotero simply uses the same code and delivers no additional value to you;
  • due to the above disadvantage, Zotero will not be able to improve the code, add supplementary features, types of sources, and so on;
  • while you can use a number of Zotero plugins, including the Zotero Chrome extension, Zotero Google Docs integration, Zotero for Word, and other Zotero free downloads, they cannot be accessed from either your browser or portable device;
  • Zotero supports translating the elements of your bibliographic references into different languages, but this feature is absolutely erroneous: it delivers automated translations with faulty abbreviations, incorrect date formats, and other errors for languages other than English;
  • the Zotero app does not offer personalized support and, as stated above, does not develop its service according to what you need;
  • the interface is very outdated: there is even no simple design layout to help you identify different types of fields in a source. All in all, you will have again to spend much time on Zotero tutorials to start using the software.

How is Grafiati better than Zotero?

Grafiati is a citation generator that offers to create references and citations in the most popular international citation styles online.

While there are many differences compared to Zotero, the main one is the approach that we use. Instead of borrowing the aforementioned open-source code that would make us just another copycat app in bibliographic management, we use our proprietary algorithms developed individually for each citation style. You get a service crafted manually by Grafiati.

In the Zotero vs Mendeley / Mendeley vs Zotero discussions, you should always remember that you are using almost the same service enveloped in a different interface. In the case of Grafiati, you get a citation app designed manually to fulfill your highest expectations and to generate the most accurate citations and bibliographic references.

So, here are just some of the many aspects suggesting why you would use Grafiati instead of Zotero:

  • With Grafiati, you get a handcrafted service thanks to which you can plunge deeper and create references to articles from online journals with eLocators, archival documents, laws of different states and not only the US, cite custom contributor roles instead of just authors, editors, or translators, and so on.
  • We never deliver the same errors as Zotero: you can be confident that you will cite correctly a forthcoming edition in Chicago Style, an arXiv preprint in APA, or an archival document in MLA.
  • In contrast to the Zotero app, our service is available online. No need to download anything, install it, or search for additional plugins.
  • We are developing and expanding our code every day. You can not only monitor the development of our service but also to participate in it by submitting your offers and suggestions.
  • Grafiati is adapted to all types of devices and offers you the best kind of user experience.
  • We use no low-quality automation as Zotero does. The translations of all reference elements at Grafiati are prepared by professional linguists taking into account the practice of your country and its institutions: when you convert your bibliography into the French, Italian, Spanish, Ukrainian, or Polish languages, you can be sure that you will get an appropriate format of edition number, a correct date format, and so on.
  • Grafiati can be used as a free citation generator. But you can also purchase the unlimited access to our service, thus not only getting unlimited opportunities but also contributing to our subsequent improvement.
  • We save your time. No tutorials, no pain, no struggle. Open our website, and you will be able to start off right away: our interface is totally simple, and all operations are performed in the same browser window.

How to use your bibliographic management service?

Go to our homepage, select the source type you need to cite and the citation style you need. By means of our catalogues, you can find the required book, journal article, or website, and fill in all data and generate the appropriate bibliographic entry in one click.

You can then export your bibliography, order all references according to the requirements of the chosen citation style or based on a different criterion, edit your references, and so on.

Devote your time to research, while Grafiati takes care of your references!

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