Comparison of Papers and Bookends

After a long pause, I have started to write articles again, and therefore needed to reinstall Endnote. Then I realized that Endnote is horrible, and there is surely something better. Enter Bookends, which can import Endnote libraries, plays nicely with OSX apps, and seems the answer to all my problems. I also managed to cleverly buy it in a software bundle (now expired), so I paid nowhere near the asking price.

Soon after the purchase, a friend reminded me that Papers (my favourite scientific program on the Mac) also can manage citations, and did I really need both.

The short answer is Yes. But not everyone will need both programs, as the features overlap.

Features shared by Papers and Bookends

Cool features exclusive to Bookends

Cool features exclusive to Papers

Head to head comparison

Feature Bookends Papers
Primary catalogued item Reference information (”citation”) PDF files
Citation styles Multiple recognized formats Non-customisable reference format
Effect when dragging a reference Drags PDF, reference, title, Endnote citation, Bibtex identifier Drags formatted reference, or place marker (for later formatting)
Able to use as citation manager Definitely Not really, but technically possible with work arounds
Attachments Multiple attachments for each reference It’s all about the PDF, man
Adding PDFs Drop onto open library Drop onto dock icon or anywhere else, via services menu
Backup Syncs to Use Backup utility to backup
Citations managed Scientific articles, Book chapters, Artwork, Thesis, In press etc. Journal articles (Other PDFs can be added to the system, but they are not managed well

Different Software for different tasks

If you read through the features discussed above, you will hopefully realize that both programs have slightly different aims. Bookends is a traditional citation management program that deals with everything from scientific journal articles to books, artworks and even websites. Papers is a fully-featured PDF filing, reading and manipulation program.

If you want to buy only one program, then your choice will depend on which features you need. If you want to read, search and annotate PDFs and occasionally use them as citations, Papers is the choice. If you want to create formatted bibliographies with multiple reference types, then you should choose Bookends. Or perhaps you might want to research some of the other citation management software out there. I will probably use both programs when writing journal articles - Papers to read and choose my papers, and Bookends to manipulate the citations.


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