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Citation Style Guides

This page will provide links to various types of style guides available on the Internet. Use these to format citations for papers.

Quick citation generators

The following are quick, browser-based citation generators. In other words, when you input the information you need to cite a resource (author, title, date, etc.), you will get back that information in the correct citation format. You can choose the style you need to use (APA, MLA, Chicago, CSE) and the system will automatically generate the correct citation format for that particular style.

Citation management software

Bibliographic or citation management tools are robust software designed to help researchers manage large numbers of references. They do this by collecting, organizing, and storing the citation information about the references, and then integrating that information into a word processor to automatically generate in-text citations and reference lists.

If you are already using a citation manager or would like help getting started with one, ISU librarians provide support for three options: Zotero (free), EndNote (paid and free / basic), and Mendeley (free).

The sections below provide links to ISU Library guides for each citation manager and some basic information about each.


Zotero is a free, open-source citation management program. With Zotero you can create personal and group libraries (which can be public or private), and organize your references with folders, notes, and tags.

Zotero exists as a desktop application that stores citation information and integrates with word processing software, and a "connector" that allows you to gather citation information from the web. In many cases Zotero can also extract the metadata (information about a source, which is needed to create citations) from a PDF file. Users have created many useful third party plugins for Zotero, including file management plugins and integrations for a variety of specialized writing tools.

Zotero is compatible with the most commonly used browsers for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It can collect better, more complete citations than the other options in some cases, especially from web resources. It integrates seamlessly into Word and other word processing programs such as LibreOffice and Google Docs.


There are two versions of this software available.

EndNote has much greater functionality, but the software must be purchased and is relatively expensive. See TechCYte for information on available versions and pricing.

EndNote Basic is browser-based and free, though it is much more limited in functionality. ISU affiliates have access to many more citation styles and more storage for files than non-affiliates.

If you frequently use Web of Science, consider using EndNote or EndNote Basic. Since Web of Science and EndNote are owned by the same company, they integrate seamlessly.


Mendeley is another free citation manager, though some features require a premium subscription. There is also a Word add-in called Mendeley Cite.

Mendeley's features are very similar to Zotero: you can drag and drop PDFs to extract metadata, create group libraries, and organize your references with folders, notes, and tags. However, public groups were recently removed from Mendeley, so if you want to create a public list of references, Mendeley is not a good option.

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Lorrie Pellack
Head, Research & Instruction Services Dept.
150c Parks Library
Ames, IA 50011-2140
Phone: 515-294-5569