8-How to Cite Sources

Citation Software

You may be familiar with the many citation generators that allow you to auto-generate reference lists from citation data. Some allow you to save and store citations to reuse them in different lists and in different work, as needed.

Such tools are worth investigating and learning about for any long-term research project. Zotero is online and available for free to anyone from anywhere. RefWorks and EndNote are available to all OSU students, faculty, and staff from anywhere because OSU Libraries subscribes to this service. For information about using any of these tools, go to software available to OSU students.

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Common Citations Tools

Good reasons to use citation generation software include:

  • To save time: it takes citation generation software only a few seconds to create a citation.
  • To easily convert citations from one style to another.
  • To have a centralized source list that is not attached to a specific project, which allows you to reuse references and their citations in various projects.

Care you must use with citation generation software includes:

  • Citation generation software is only as good as the information entered into it. In other words, if you provide incorrect information or do not include some information, then your citation will be incorrect.
  • Most citation generation software can create citations by searching for the information online. Sometimes software can pull the information from the wrong edition of a source, for example, or specific formatting (such as italics) might be lost. Or perhaps the generator didn’t use the latest version of the style guide.
  • Always review the citations you create with this software.


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Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research by Teaching & Learning, Ohio State University Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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