Reference management tools

Making a simple bibliography

There are several free online tools that can help you with referencing.  If you need to make just a few references we recommend Zotero Bib. This is a free and simple tool to make a bibliography from your list of sources. 

What is a reference management tool?

A reference management tool will: 

  • capture your sources as you find them on the internet
  • help you to organise and save your sources
  • insert citations in your written work
  • create a bibliography

Do I need a reference management tool?

  1. Do you have a large piece of writing to do?
  2. Will you need to use lots of different sources?
  3. Do you sometimes forget where you found a quote?
  4. Do you find writing your bibliography time consuming or difficult?
  5. Do you sometimes need to switch referencing styles?
  6. Would you like to refer back to your sources at a later date?
  7. Are you prepared to spend some time setting up a system for saving your sources so you can save time later when you are writing?

If you answered 'yes' to three or more of the above then a reference management tool could help you.

Which should I choose?

We recommend several reference management tools. Click on the links to find out more about each one and how to set it up.

Free online:

Reference generators:

  • ZoteroBib - free, fast, clear, simple interface to generate references instantly.  No need to log in
  • MyBib - similar to ZoteroBib but with additional features (prompts you in information is missing)

Reference management:

  • Zotero free open source software. Powerful tool for managing references, many features
  • Mendeley free, owned by Elsevier, links well to scientific journals.

Subscription services:

For University of Exeter students and staff Endnote is another option (paid for by the University).

Many students find the free tools listed above are more efficient and user-friendly.