Bibliographic citation software

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Importing citations into Classic RefWorks
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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 7 June 2017


See also Altmetrics | Bibliometrics | Citation management | Impact factors | Mendeley | Quosa | RefWorks | Scholarly publishing and communication | Webometrics | Zotero

Bibliographic citation software are tools that help scholars create and manage lists of references in research. Many of these tools are designed to organize references or citations into specific formats for preparing manuscripts and bibliographies. Citation management software is important in managing research output, and an integral part of the research process. Some free search tools such as Google scholar provide a way to download references into commercial citation management tools. There are a number of free tools such as Zotero and Mendeley that offer premium models that cost money, but most many of the better tools offer optimal functionality and require buying annual subscriptions.

Available tools

...a free web-based journal article app designed for researchers in bioinformatics, engineering, information management; combines citation management, RSS readers and document ordering


  • BibMe new2.gif is a free bibliography maker, citation guide, and has the ability to save bibliographies you’ve created. You can search for a resource or manually enter information. It will prompt for the information you need for each type of citation. BibMe is free and doesn’t offer a premium or paid version, but they do note that they accept donations via PayPal to support their service.


  • Citelighter new2.gif is a way to build your bibliography, online or offline. It comes as a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) and lets you pick sections of webpages and save them with digital notes. You can then create APA, MLA, or Chicago citations. Citelighter catalogues the citations people make and groups them in "Knowledge Cards" which contain groupings of information on a particular subject.

ColWiz (collective wisdom)) a free research management, collaboration and productivity platform for researchers, academics and students; in 2015, the publisher Taylor and Francis announced that it would partner with ColWiz
"...ColWiz is a series of interactive tools, where you can highlight text, write notes, and draw directly on articles — just as with a printed copy."


  • EasyBib comes as a Chrome Extension, app (for iOS and Android), Google App, and website. There is a tool to generate a citation from a variety of resources (59!), and the chrome extension rates a site for credibility. MLA citations are free, other styles are available with a premium account (1 year is $19.99). A premium account offers you parenthetical citations, footnotes, and other things that the free option doesn’t have.

EndNote a commercial reference management system used to manage bibliographies and references when writing essays and articles. Developed by Thomson Scientific, the current version is EndNote X6 (16) for Windows or Mac OS X. Here is the official website. French tutorial, Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal.



Google Docs Bibliography Templates

  • Google Docs Bibliography Templates presents an alternative to using a browser extension, signing up for accounts or paying for a service. Bibliographies require formatting, so checking lists of pre-made bibliography templates in Google Docs can help to make the process easier. The downside to this method is that students need to know what information to include in the citation rather than having a program that prompts them for it.


  • Mendeley is a popular "fremium" service that allows you to index and organize your pdfs, collaborate with fellow researchers and share information via shared and public collections, and discover new papers through the Mendeley research network.


  • NoodleTools is a set of free web-based tools for note-taking, outlining, citation, document archiving/annotation, and collaborative research and writing. There is a free version (NoodleTools MLA Lite) and a subscription version. Individual subscriptions support MLA, APA, and Chicago formats. The school subscription version has collaboration features. NoodleTools is an online resource that, among other things, lets you create citations (MLA, APA, Chicago) for almost any source. You first select the style you need, then the type of source, and it prompts you with a fill-in form with all of the information you need to properly create citations. There is a premium edition for those who need to create large source lists, or for schools, teachers, or librarians ($15/year).



Procite a commercial reference management software sold by the Thomson Corporation. It was very popular as a standalone citation management tool until various web-based versions were created. Here is its official website.


...helps scientists and researchers manage scientific and technical documents. It focuses on literature search tools for both academic and commercial life science professionals and researchers. QUOSA's Information Manager boosts search and management capability and efficiency for individual users. Its Virtual Library is a document repository solution that enhances team sharing and alerting.

RefDot (Chrome Extension)

  • RefDot new2.gif is a Google Chrome extension. It helps users keep track of information and formatting references for use in bibliographies. When you’ve found an online resource, you can just click the refDot icon in the browser and enter the information you need for your bibliography. One of the great aspects of RefDot is that it prompts you to include certain pieces of information needed for the bibliography.

RefWorks a web-based citation manager, and application to manage scholarly references and bibliographies. (See RefWorks at UBC Wiki and this RefWorks Tutorial).
RefWorks 2.0

Subscribers store their RefWorks database online, use and update it from anywhere and share data with others. Universities subscribe to RefWorks on behalf of students and faculty. The software enables linking to electronic editions of journals to which the university libraries hold subscriptions. Linking is accomplished by incorporating an OpenURL resolver. RefWorks is simple to use and researchers use a sharing tool called RefShare. Like other web-based programs, RefWorks lets you gather, store, manage and share references or citations. It also helps to generate bibliographies and formatted papers. References are stored online, and accessible from any web-connected computer.


  • WizFolio is a free online research collaboration tool for knowledge discovery; share all types of information including research papers, patents, documents, books, YouTube videos, web snippets


  • Zotero - open-source citation management is an easy-to-use free citation management tool developed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Zotero gathers, organizes and cites sources (papers, fulltext pdfs, web pages, images and other objects).

Canadian context

When many Canadian academic libraries moved to web-based versions of bibliographic management software such as RefWorks, there were concerns about storing data on American servers. Some Canadian universities had users' accounts and data stored on an American server which was subject to the US Patriot Act. In 2013, this is not the case because all data was moved to Canadian servers at the University of Toronto in 2007.

Reference management and social bibliographic tools

See also Social bookmarking sites

Most of these tools are free to use on the web, unless you require a premium version.


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