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Library DIY

I Need a Tool to Generate Quick Citations

How do Citation Generators Work?

Usually citation generators will ask which citation style you are using and then prompt you to choose the source (journal, book, etc.) where you found the information that requires citation. Next you enter various pieces of bibliographic information about the source. After you finish entering the bibliographic information, the generator formulates a citation which you can copy/paste into your document. 

Sample Citation Generators

  • NoodleTools Express Note: This is the free version. There is also a paid subscription version called NoodleTools.
    • helps user create single citations, no login required. User can copy/paste individual citations into paper/project documents.
    • offers templates for a broad range of MLA*,  APA, and Chicago source citation formats.
  • BibME Note: Offers BibME both free and paid subscription accounts
    • creates citations and bibliographic references for MLA*, APA, Turabian, and Chicago styles.
    • allows user to look up reference by URL, title, or ISBN, then see it automatically converts to a citation and bibliographic reference.
    • requires registration for a free account which allows user to save references for later.
  • Citation Builder by University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Libraries
    • helps user create single citations, no log-in required. User can copy/paste individual citations into paper/project documents.
    • covers commonly used source types for APA, MLA 7*, MLA 8*, CSE, and Chicago (both Author-Date and Notes-Bib)

*MLA 9th Edition was published in April, 2021. Continue reading for additional information.

Problems with Citation Generators

  • APA is troublesome for the citation generators:
    • Many of the citation generators, including those listed above, the ones built into various versions of Microsoft Word, and the generators that are within the library databases, make mistakes with citation formatting, especially APA formatting.
    • For example, because citation generators rely on information typed in by the user, if the user does not know about sentence style capitalization for article titles in APA and capitalizes the first letter of every word in the title, the generator usually does not correct these errors. 
  • Generators take longer to adjust to new editions of style manuals and citation rules.
    • MLA 9th Edition was published in April 2021, which means it will take time for the generator software to be updated to reflect the latest changes.
    • See the MLA Style website's What's New in the Ninth Edition of the MLA Handbook pages for a comparison of the new edition to the previous 8th Edition.

Check the publication manual or the online resources created by the publisher of the particular style manual for the most correct information. You can also verify style and citation expectations with your professor or course instructor.