• 2-minute read
  • 4th September 2018

An Introduction to Referencing Software

As computers displace us in many walks of life, some worry that automation will lead to human obsolescence. However, if automation is good for one thing, it is dull tasks such as organising the references in a dissertation or essay. And this is why we have referencing software.

But what exactly is referencing software? And when should you use it? Well, try to ignore the risk of humanity being replaced by robots for a moment or two and let us explain.

Why Use Referencing Software?

Referencing software typically uses a database where you enter the publication details of the sources cited in your written work. You can then use the database to generate citations and references.

There are many reasons that you might want to use a software package to handle referencing:

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  • It can save time and effort compared to manual referencing.
  • It ensures correct and consistent referencing throughout your document.
  • You can import source information automatically from online databases.
  • It lets you switch between referencing styles quickly and easily.
  • You can share your database of sources with other users.

But which referencing software package should you use? Read on for information about a few of your options.

Software Packages

Below you’ll find some of the most popular referencing software packages and services:

  • EndNote – EndNote works with all major referencing systems, source types and word processors. You will need to pay for the full version, but there is a limited free version.
  • Mendeley – This is a free tool for managing and citing PDF documents. It is therefore most useful when the majority of your sources are in this format (e.g. ebooks and journal articles).
  • Zotero – This package is notable for having an internet browser plugin that can automatically import source information from websites. And once the source details have been imported, you can use Zotero to add a citation to your work.
  • RefWorks – This web-based system provides a simple way of collating sources that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. It is less comprehensive than some of the systems above, but it is fine for undergraduate work.
  • BibTeX – A referencing package designed for use with the LaTeX system.
  • Papers – A referencing software package designed for Apple devices.

Some universities offer free or discounted access to referencing software. You may therefore want to check with your supervisor whether anything is available before making a purchase.

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