By Bianca Chan

You’ve just slaved away for days working on an essay and you’re finally adding the finishing touches to your footnotes, headers and title page. You’re about to start the citations, but you can’t remember if you put the period outside or inside of the brackets, and you aren’t sure whether it’s last name, first initial or first name, last name. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there.

Why make your life any harder than it has to be? There are several free and easy-to-use citation apps and guides to help you along the way to make sure you ace that paper.

  1. Check cuLearn and your professor’s syllabus. They often state which bibliographic style the professor and the department prefer so you know what style to follow. Professors know students struggle with citations and let’s be real, they’re easy marks to lose out on. Sometimes professors post examples of exactly what they want on the syllabus, so actually go through it!
  1. Double check the department’s style guide. Each departmental page usually has a subsection for bibliographic style, citations of different sources, quotations and paraphrasing, and much more. Just Google “Carleton University ____ department style guide” and it should be the first link to show up!
  1. Go straight to the source. Most style guides are available online and all are available in hard copy at the MacOdrum Library on campus.
  1. Use RefMe. This is an online citation generator that has over 7,500 reference styles to choose from and gives you correct citations for print and web documents as well as videos, manuscripts, artwork and more. Never be confused again!
  1. Try out EasyBib. EasyBib is another free online citation generator. Choose your style and look up your source in the search bar, or fill out the entries manually. EasyBib will put all the information in the correct order and save your citations on a sidebar to copy and paste into your essay at the end.
  1. Take advantage of BibMe. BibMe is an automatic bibliography maker and is basically the champion of “fill in the blanks” when you can’t for the life of you find that publication city or issue number.
  1. Try Zotero. This is a completely free browser plug-in that will create footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations and bibliographies. Focus on your writing and let Zotero do the rest.
  1. Use Refdot. Refdot is an extension for your Google Chrome browser (if you don’t have or use Google Chrome, do yourself a favour and get it!) that allows you to cite and store books and journal references and adds books automatically from Amazon book pages. Just search for it in Google Chrome Extensions.
  1. (Son of) Citation Machine. Similar to all the citation generators mentioned above, but its primary focus is to make it easy for students to cite their sources.
  1. Use Research Help at MacOdrum Library. If you’re able to come to campus, visit the staff at the help desk and ask them to double check your citations before handing in your paper. They can even extend their consultations to distance students – email them at to set something up!

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