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Citation Generators: How to Use Them and What to Look Out For

Citing sources can be a confusing and overwhelming task when you’re doing research. Luckily, there are several citation generators that will make your life a lot easier. In this post we’ll discuss both free and subscription citation generators and common errors to look out for.

If you Google "free citation generator",you will get back thousands of results. There are a lot out there and it can be hard to determine which ones are the best. Luckily, the University Libraries has put together a LibGuide that lists approved free citation generators. We'll discuss a couple here, but for the full list, please visit the LibGuide!

BibMe can help you cite in MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian formatting. Created by Carnegie Mellon University, BibMe has an auto fill feature and also allows you to switch between citation styles.

Mendeley is another free citation generator. This program not only automatically generates bibliographies, but it is also part of an academic social network. Mendeley gives users the opportunity to collaborate online with other researchers and has an iPhone app that provides access to papers from anywhere online.

Zotero is highly recommended by the University Libraries. This is a free and open source program that can be used in the Firefox browser. Developed by George Mason University, users can store, manage, and cite sources.

Subscription citation generators are another way to go. NoodleBib is an award-winning site and is highly recommended by the University Libraries. It's only $8.00 a year and in addition to standard citing features, users can save bibliographies online or in Word, and there is a note-taking feature!

EasyBib is $8.99 a year. Users can cite and format 37 types of sources in MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian style. Like NoodleBib, users can save bibliographies online or in Word. EasyBib now has an iPhone app as well! With this app, you can scan a book barcode or type in the title and citations will be generated.

EndNote is a popular tool for managing bibliographies and it’s available at the University Libraries. Users can store and manage bibliographic data as well as create bibliographies. For step-by-step instruction on how to use EndNote, please visit our LibGuide.

Citation generators are useful and time-saving tools. However, it is still your responsibility to make sure your bibliographic data is cited correctly. Errors can occur with citation generators and there are common mistakes that you should look out for:

  • Make sure everything is capitalized correctly by checking the appropriate citation guide.
  • With programs that automatically input bibliographic data such as Zotero, make sure the data being imported matches the style guide.
  • If not, you will need to change the citation to reflect the style you are using.
  • Make sure to check the provided citations in databases such as EBSCO,Proquest, CSA, and Scopus. These databases generate citations as if the full text of the article was accessed. However, this is not always the case.

So there you have it! As you can see, there are a lot of good choices when it comes to citation generators. Try some and see what works the best for you! Just remember to check your citations against the appropriate style guide. If you have any further questions about citation generators, please stop by the reference desk, call us at 442-3691, email us, or IM or text us.

Blog post created by Katie Farrell