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Manage Citations with Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote: Citation Generators

This guide provides an overview of citation management tools, as well as citation generators.

What is a Citation Generator?

There are many free citation generators available and you should never have to pay for one. Citation generators normally support only a few citation styles (the most common). You will manually enter your citation information yourself, for each paper and then they convert that information into a citation. These citations do not integrate with your word processor. This means you have to copy each citation over to your bibliography individually, and if you make any changes, you have to go back and update all the citations yourself.

Because citation generators are generated by machines, they can sometimes have errors. They are also not always up-to-date and they can have formatting errors. After you use a citation generator, it is very important that you still double-check the citation and make sure the information is correct.

Citation generators are useful if you just need to make an APA, MLA or other common citation for your bibliography.

Citation Generators

BibMe is easy to use and has many styles available. (MLA, APA, Chicago and other styles)

Calvin College's KnightCitehas a citation generator and helpful guides on citing sources. (MLA, APA, and Chicago Styles)

EasyBib is easy to use and has many styles available and is updated frequently. (MLA, APA, Chicago and others)


The image below shows an APA citation generated using BibMe.

citation generated using BibMe

Citation Generators in Library Databases

Many of the PSU library databases have citation generation tools available when you access the research articles. The image below shows the EBSCOhost "Cite" tool available in the databases we have on that platform. Many other databases have similar tools, although they may be in different locations on the page.

citation button in EBSCO database to generate citation

These citation tools will take the information from the research article and will generate a citation in the most common citation formats (MLA, APA, Chicago and others). You can then copy and paste that information into your bibliography, making sure to double-check it for errors.

Microsoft Word Bibliography Tools

Microsoft Word has built-in tools to create citations, bibliographies, and manage sources. This tool is built into Microsoft Word, and is an easy way to keep track of your citations and to make sure they are properly formatted. The citations will save with your Word document and they will update if any changes are made.

This tool is useful if you only want to create in-text citations or a bibliography. It does not have all of the added features of Zotero, Mendeley and other citation management software (such as annotations and highlighting). Additionally, you cannot capture citations while you do research. Instead, you manually enter bibliographic information for each citation into Microsoft Word.

Add citations by clicking Manage Sources. Choose the citation style from the most common citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) As you type, you can use the Insert Citation button to insert in-text citations, and you can click the Bibliography button to create a bibliography out of some or all of the citations you entered. When you have finished, make sure that the format of the paper, citations and bibliographies matches your assignment.

The citation tools built into Word 2013 and how they look on a paper are shown in the image below.

word 2013 citation tools highlighted on sample paper

Google Docs Research tool

Google Docs has a built-in citation tool. When you use Google Docs, go to the Tools tab and then click on Research. This opens a panel with several different tools. The one called "Research" lets you select a citation style like APA or MLA, and then you can plug your research information into the tool. Google will then try to find the article and the correct citation, and lets you plug that information back into your paper, making sure to double-check it for errors.

The image below shows the "Research" tool in use.

Google Scholar research tool and search bar