Software for Creating Footnotes and Bibliographies

Frustrated by the tedium of creating properly formatted footnotes and bibliographies? Struggling to keep track of hundreds or even thousands of sources in your bibliography? The software listed below can help you. These programs are not a substitute for learning proper style. All of these programs make mistakes. You will still have to check all footnotes and bibliographies generated by the programs.

For Free

Did you know that databases hosted by EBSCO (including ATLA) and OCLC FirstSearch (including WorldCat) will format bibliography entries for you? Just search the desired database and pick the articles and books you want. Then choose to e-mail, save, or print. You will have an option to use Chicago/Turabian citation format for the output. The result is often approximately correct for basic books and articles. You will still have to manually create footnotes. You will still have to manually trace which works need to be included in the bibliography. But this gives you a start.

Microsoft Word 2007 (and more recent versions) includes Citation Manager and Reference Builder to "give you the ability to add references, footnotes, endnotes, tables of contents, tables of figures or tables of authorities. Format your reference automatically by selecting a predefined style guide, including APA, MLA, The Chicago Manual of Style, and others." Few students realize Word 2007 provides these features. Functionality is limited but does meet the needs of some students. Try it. What does it not do? There is no support for importing/downloading citations from commercial databases like EBSCO or FirstSearch. Only the simplest bibliographic references are supported. It does not natively support Turabian form (but you can modify Chicago reference styles to create Turabian styles if you have coding skills).

Zotero is a free standalone program which works with several browsers, including Chrome, FireFox and Safari. Zotero imports/downloads/saves bibliographic references, documents, files, images, and snapshots of web pages. It generates footnotes and in-text citations. It generates formatted bibliographies according to Chicago, APA, or MLA style. Zotero will import from or export to Endnote or Refworks. For details, see our notes on Zotero. Zotero meets the needs of most students. If it does not meet your needs, try EndNote (see below).

For Fee

EndNote is a mature and very full featured product which does much more than just format footnotes and bibliographies. You must invest time to master this program, but it is well worth while if, for example, you are a PhD student and you expect to publish papers for decades to come. RefWorks is a web-based bibliographic management service which can be used independently or as a complement to EndNote.

StyleEase will help you with overall formatting of your papers. It also inserts footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references. It is a very economical product but very limited. For example, it does not import records from databases or change footnotes from a full to a brief reference, or vice versa, if you move text in a document.