Citation Managers

What is a citation?

When writing a paper or conducting research, authors often refer to existing scholarship.  If an author utilizes the ideas or words of another, he or she must adequately attribute that information through textual citations. 

Style manuals outline how and when to cite specific sources.  Popular style manuals include:  The Chicago Manual of Style, the Modern Language Association Handbook, and the American Psychological Association Style among others.

Some disciplines prefer certain citation styles.  Check with your professors or others in your field to see which style is appropriate!

What are citation managers?

A citation manager digitally stores and and organizes bibliographic data.

Data organized in a citation manager can be imported from a compatible database, typed directly into the chosen program, or even taken as a "snapshot" from a webpage.

Several varieties of citation managers are now offered—some available with a downloadable desktop program, some accessible through an online login system, and some attached to an online browser as a bookmark or add-on.  

Both free and commercial versions of citation managers are available..

Why use a citation manager?

  • Citation managers minimize the loss of information common when documenting references on paper.
  • You can organize, filter, and export data for a bibliography or citation.
  • Research collected from one semester can be saved for use in future research.
  • Citation managers allow selection of the citation style for output (e.g. APA, MLA, Turabian). Correctly citing your resources may help prevent plagiarism. More information on plagiarism is available through the library website.
  • Some citation managers allow users to share references with collaborators. Sharing occurs through e-mail or by creating an online group—depending on the citation manager. This function facilitates greater communication between distant collaborators or classmates working on a group project.