JabRef 3.8

A powerful open-source bibliography reference manager
5.0  (3 votes)
3.8.2 (See all)

JabRef is an open-source bibliography reference manager. It is characterized by its ample support for various bibliographic formats, including BIB, XML, PDF and ISI. Moreover, it can let you cite while you write in various text editors, such as LyX, Kile, Emacs, WinEdt, Vim, TeXstudio and Led. Likewise, it is compatible with OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

Probably, due to the fact that using this type of software usually involves some difficulties, I had some problems to find my way despite my previous experience with similar applications, like EndNote and Zotero. In my opinion, some of the toolbar buttons could be made more intuitive.

The program supports practically every entry type, including articles, books and proceedings. Although it is quite easy to enter the data, you can spare all the time and effort by using its ID-based entry generator, which can download all the necessary data if you provide the corresponding publication ID on ISBN, DOI, DiVA, Medline, SAO and NASA systems.

The resulting database is fully compliant with BibTeX standards. Besides, selected entries can also be exported to other formats, as EndNote, Office, HTML and BibTeXML. In addition, it can use filters for 15 reference formats. Other compatibility features include direct search from PubMED and IEEExplore. Additionally, it allows downloading from CiteSeer and ArXiv. Luckily for those people managing large amounts of bibliographic data, the tool also allows converting batches of reference files from the command line.

All in all, JabRef is a very powerful bibliography reference manager which has the main advantage of being free, considering the usually high price of the related software. If you are a Microsoft Office user, you will probably want to use it to manage your references. Unfortunately, this cannot be done unless you use Docear4Word to insert and format references.

Pedro Castro
Editor rating:

Review summary


  • It produces fully BibTeX-compliant output
  • It allows importing filters for 15 reference formats
  • It lets you search and download from various databases
  • It can generate entry data from the publication’s ID in international standards
  • It supports cite-as-you-write functionalities on various external applications


  • It can be difficult to use at first
  • It does not support directly managing references in Microsoft Office
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