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Properly citing your sources and creating bibliographies is very hard work. There are several different styles and you may be required to use more than one, depending on what course you're taking. The style manuals are long and complicated, and can be difficult to use.
Help is available! There are several very good reference management software products available, which do most of the hard work for you. The basic bibliographic information is entered into fields (sometimes with just one mouse click!), and then you tell the software which bibliographic format you want to use. It takes the basic information you've entered, and creates properly-formated citations and bibliographies in any of the major styles.
The information below will help you learn more about some of the available products.
Remember that even the best reference management software is no substitute for the actual handbooks themselves. You should always check the citations and bibliographies created by them against the appropriate handbook to ensure accuracy.
Zotero works best as a free plug-in for the Firefox browser, though it can be used as a standalone program even if you don't have Firefox. When used with Firefox, it's possible to download citation data from library catalogs, Amazon, research databases, or other web sites with a single click of the mouse. In our opinion, this is the best reference management software available, so we recommend that you download Firefox, and then download the Zotero plug-in into Firefox. You should also download the word processor plug-in, which allows you to insert properly-formatted citations in your paper as you're writing it. There's very good documentation for Zotero available on its web site.
Mendeley allows you to manage PDF downloads, properly format citations and bibliographies, and collaborate with others in your research.
Endnote now offers a free version. Its features include:
Recent versions of Microsoft Word include reference management software in the "References" tab.
EBSCOhost and other databases often allow you to generate citations for items you find there. You can either copy and paste them into your document or even export them to whatever reference management software you prefer to use. Tutorials and FAQs for these features can be found easily via the Help sections on the database websites, or through a well-crafted web search. For convenience sake, we have linked you to the EBSCO cite feature page above.