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Citation Management and Generation

Looking to corral your references all in one place, then this guide is for you!

Understanding Citations

What is a Citation?


It's not as hard as you think.

Citations are simply a practice of creating a record of who said what, where, and at what time.

  • Who - author
  • What - the idea or quote you are citing
  • Where - the website, journal article, newspaper, video, book, etc.
  • At What Time - date of publication


Why bother?

Citations highlight and acknowledge resources you read to arrive at your final product. We don't write in a vacuum; your readers want to read the resources you read, or respond. This is a facet of scholarly communication, and it is actually pretty interesting. Your writing has value, as do the resources you are citing. Your work increases in value by placing it in the context of other writing and research.

When do we Cite?

Many students are unsure when and how to cite, and also have trouble with the concept of what requires citations. The video below covers a lot of these topics.

If you want to know more about this, check out our "Quoting and Paraphrasing" page for more help and videos.

What is a Style Guide?

Depending on your major or the classes you are taking, you may be asked to use a different "style guide" for your citations. All this means is that you may have to format your citations slightly differently and use either "in-text" or "footnote" or "end note" citations. But don't worry!

Regardless of which Style Guide you are asked to use, each citation style requires the same basic information. The only differences are generally the order of information, some of the punctuation used, and how it is actually cited within your paper.

So, what guide will you be using? It changes. Below are some of the most common Style Guides and their main disciplines.

Citation Managers vs. Generators

When deciding between a Citation Manager or a Citation Generator, it is good to think about what you will actually need the tool for.

  • MANAGERS can be very helpful when dealing with both collecting citations and generating bibliographies. They aren't perfect, but they make those more complicated papers with lots of sources much more manageable -- if you know how to use them well. They can also be good when dealing with a large amount of datasets in research or trying to share resources across a lab or team of writers. This is very prevalent in the sciences. Managers are also useful for automatically inserting in-text citations into your document. However, it cannot auto-detect where to put them, you will still need to know when to cite your sources.
  • GENERATORS are useful if you just need to convert your actual resources into a bibliography. These are useful when you just need a simple and easy solution to formatting your bibliography or works cited page.

Both of these tools come with one GIANT caveat, though: NEVER TRUST AN AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED CITATION. The citations created by either Managers or Generators are only as good as the data fed into them. And for that, you will always need to double check both the information in the entry in the Manager or Generator, which means known the parts of book, article, website, etc., AND the parts of a citation.