You are in the middle of searching for literature for your thesis and feel that you are slowly but surely losing track? Are you looking for a way to better manage literature to make your collection of important books, Internet sources, articles and PDFS clearer and more efficient?

You’re certainly not alone. Students are constantly faced with this very problem of chaotic literary management. After all, a self-governing organisation is often hardly profitable, especially for extensive work. What many don’t use or even know: There are special programs that can help you manage your sources. Many universities and colleges even make some of them available to their students. But also on the net many different possibilities for an orderly literature administration can be found and used.

In this context, this article will not only help you understand how a literature management program works. It also shows you the different possibilities.

What is a literary management system?

A literature management program helps you, as the name suggests, to sort and organize the sources collected in the context of your thesis in a uniform and above all clear manner. Such systems offer various features that help you to efficiently incorporate the found literature into your text. All literature management programs have basically the same functions. On the one hand, you serve to store all collected sources and on the other hand, your task is to manage them, for example in the context of systematically created bibliographies. The advantage for you is that many programs allow the direct import of whole texts into your database. Some also offer the possibility of several authors working together on a transcript.

What options do I have for a literature management system?

As a student, you can often access a program provided by your chair. For example, many universities offer the availability of licenses for systems such as Endnote (MAC, Windows) or Citavi (Windows). But you can also find free ways to use Mendeley online. I myself use Mendeley and can therefore recommend this free program. Take a look at my account!


You can use the Endnote literature management program for both Windows and your Mac. For the latter, the program now even offers a mobile app. Endnote also has plugins for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Word. Only one user account has to be created for use. This then facilitates sharing and collaboration with different sources by means of an online synchronization. Data can be transferred to databases via a direct search and an online import.


Citavi is similar to Endnote and can also be used on MAC and Windows to manage sources. Unlike Endnote, however, this literature management program also offers plugins for LibreOffice, OpenOffice and LaTeX in addition to Word. In addition, Citavi not only generally creates citation styles, but also creates its own.

Data transmission to the individual sources can be carried out via web or ISBN import, RSS feed or the classic direct search in network-based data banks. Even if Citavi is not yet available as an online version, users can look forward to this further advantage in the near future.


Unlike Final Grade (from €200) and Citavi (from €119), Mendeley is free and therefore also available to students whose chair does not provide a free use programme. Again, as with Endnote, only the creation of a web account is required, which allows to collaborate and share sources through an online synchronization. In addition to Mac and Windows, Mendeley is also designed for use with Linux and offers not only the typical plugins for Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Word, but also those for Safari, BibTeX and LibreOffice.

Although the program is available for free, it can score with mobile apps for IOS and Android and, like Citavi, allows you to create more general and your own citation styles.

The data can be done by a web import, just as already explained by Endnote and Citavi. Mendeley also features Folder Watch and Drag & Drop.


You see there are several ways you can organize and manage your thesis better and more efficiently in relation to your literature sources. Of course, in the sea of the Internet there are many other possibilities for the administration of literature. The three examples presented are intended to give you only an insight. Just listen to your chair and see which program is on offer or use the free Mendeley. In any case, from my own experience, I can only warmly recommend the use of such a literary management programme.

If you would like to learn more about thetheses, please read my articles on the following areas:

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Gibt es noch Fragen?

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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