A citation tool is a web-based or computer desktop application or resource that helps you organize, manage and format citations for your research. There a two different kinds of citation tools: citation managers and citation generators.
Citation Manager: (also called a Reference Manager or Bibliographic Management Tool) Sometimes called "iTunes for your research," a citation manager is a comprehensive application that helps you store, organize, and sometimes search for citation sources, as well as format citations, bibliographies, in-text citations, footnotes, and research papers according to a chosen reference style. Citation managers can be web-based or computer desktop applications. Examples include EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero.
Citation Generator: (also called a Citation Machine or Citation Builder) A web-based resource that helps create formatted citations in a limited number of styles (MLA, APA, Chicago typically). Citation generators offer quick and easy steps to creating single citations that you can copy and paste into your research papers. Take a look at our list of citation generators for a comparison of features and links.
Mendeley is a FREE reference manager that will automatically generate bibliographies; import and annotate PDFs; provide collaboration tools, and find relevant papers based on what you’re reading. It provides desktop software for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android. Plus there is a website where you can access your library and papers from anywhere online and easily collaborate. You also have access to their handy mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android.
Zotero is a a FREE reference manager that works within your Firefox web browser. It is also available in a standalone version that allows you to use Zotero with other browsers (Chrome and Safari). Zotero allows you to store and organize citations as you find them. It also allows you to "drag and drop" citations to create your bibliography, create groups, add a wide variety of inforamtion items, store a snapshot of a website. And you can automatically format bibliographies and citations in MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, and many other styles using Microsoft Word and LibreOffice plugins.
There is an array of citations managers out there to help you locate, manage, cite and format citations and information sources. Below is a sampling of resources that are available. Some are free and others will charge a fee (but often at a discount for educational use and provide free trial periods).
Do you need your citation formatted ... and you need it right now? Then a citation generator may be your answer. Citation generators will either auto-fill citation forms using information provided from website lookups OR provide a form for manual entry -- and then provide you with a formatted citation in a limited number of styles (typically MLA, APA or Chicago). Below is a list of some of the most popular FREE citation generators.
Take Note: Citation generators are very convenient but some can be prone to formatting errors. Double-checking citations with a style guide is highly recommended.
Some database vendors offer built in citation generators, e.g., EBSCOhost, OVID, Proquest, JSTOR, etc.. When searching in a database, look for words like “Cite Now” or “Cite This” or “Citation Format” because these are links to citation generators. You can find these in databases such as Academic Search Complete, PsycInfo, ABI/Inform, etc.