Today’s post focuses on something that will make your life infinity easier: citation managers. During my entire undergraduate (and–let’s be real– most of my graduate) career, I have written papers and then formatted the citations as the final step. I cannot stress enough how inefficient and time consuming this is. With a citation manager, citing work becomes much more manageable and helps get the task done as you write.

Using the program of your choice, be it EndNote, Reference Manager, or Zotero, you can create a personal library to house and automatically format citations (in whichever style you favor) used for research, papers and projects. The manager you use depends on your personal preference, but as a Zotero user, I highly recommend the product and think it’s the best bet for students, and will readily explain why.

First: Zotero is free for the general public. EndNote and Reference Manager are free for IUB students and faculty, but once you leave IUB, updates are going to cost you.  Second: Zotero is web-based and personal libraries can be easily accessed on any computer. True, Zotaro is best used on your personal computer: working as an add-on to the Firefox web browser, it grabs information and creates citations from websites in addition to manual input (which is the only way to create a citation on other computers). It also functions as a plug-in to Microsoft Word and/or Open Office on your personal computer to “cite as you write.”

view of Zotero library
{View of Zotero library within Firefox Web Browser}

Comparatively, EndNote and Reference Manager are downloadable software products that only allow access on your personal computer. EndNote does have a partner product that is accessible online, aptly named EndNote Web, but once again, it is not free after you leave IUB and does not have some of the functionality of Zotero.  Some of the best features of Zotero include being able to share libraries with friends and colleagues through the group share function and storing PDFs and files right to your library. In EndNote Web, lists can only be shared with other EndNote users (i.e. people who have free access at your institution or have paid for it) and does not have the capability to store information.

using Zotero in Word
{Importing citations into a Word Document}

The main downfall with Zotero is that the add-on can only be used in the Firefox browser, which may be a hassle for IE, Safari, and Chrome devotees. However, EndNote Web is only accessible in Firefox and IE, so if you are looking to use a web-based citation manager, the accessibility of EndNote Web isn’t much greater.

With ever increasing functionality, using a citation manager can be a complete timesaver.  Although there has been some hesitancy to use them, as many can be unintuitive (EndNote is a bit more complex), Zotero has some excellent screencast tutorials and is overall easy to use. And at the Fine Arts Library, we are here to help you with your Zotero questions!

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