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Citation Management

This guide shares helpful citation tools that will keep you organized when collecting multiple citations.

Choosing a Citation Tool

Citation tools can help you" "

  • Format citations
  • Create bibliographies
  • Import citations from databases and websites
  • Make notes when you read articles
  • Store and organize PDFs, screenshots, and other files

What should I use?

Citation Helpers

  • Quick formatting and lookup
  • Best for only a few citations (<20)

Citation Managers

  • Best for more extensive citation management
  • 20+ references
  • Manage PDFs
  • Integrate into MS Word
  • Software like Endnote, Zotero, Mendeley

Citation Helpers

These tools can be helpful for creating one or two citations or short lists of references for something like a limited annotated bibliography, but they are not robust enough for detailed works like theses and dissertations.

Because these tools are constantly changing and many are full of advertisements, you can search for these yourself using the phrase: "free citation generators". Many are quite adequate for simple citation needs, but we caution you to not rely 100% of these tools and learn the basics of the style manual you are using to check for accuracy.

Microsoft Word

Since Microsoft Word 2007, a new Citations and Bibliograpy functionality is available. It can store citations with the document and format in APA, MLA, Turabian, and several other citation styles. For Windows versions of Word, see Microsoft's instructions for your version of Word:

For Word for Mac:

Citation & PDF Management Programs

These are the most commonly used citation managers.  They are useful if you are working on multiple projects at once that use the same citations, if you have a large number of citations you want to retain and use, or if you are working on a theses, dissertation, or a work for publication. 

EndNote Desktop

  • Free for MSU students, faculty, & staff. See Installation guide.
  • For Windows or Mac
  • Organizes citations, take notes, and format references in Word.
  • Store article PDFs and Figures
  • Automatic PDF import and full text retrieval
  • Integrates well with Web of Science
  • Includes EndNote Web access for sharing
  • Frequently used by MSU researchers 

EndNote Basic

  • Free for all users
  • Use to organize citations, take notes, and format references in Word. 
  • Can store up to 2GB of article PDFs
  • Integrates well with Web of Science
  • Web accessible
  • Share groups
  • Login (proxied for access to MSU resources) 


  • Free
  • Use to organize citations, take notes, and format references in Word
  • Can store up to 2GB of article PDFs (5GB w/ MSU Institutional account)
  • Emphasizes sharing: Social networking meets citation management
  • Share citations, notes, and annotations
  • On the Web and desktop version (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad)
  • Web browser import button


  • Free
  • Use to organize citations, take notes, and format references in Word
  • 300MB of storage (more for a fee)
  • Firefox plugin or desktop version (Windows, Mac, Linux)
  • Web browser import button

Citations Style Guide