15 Best Citation Generators and Reference Management Software [2021]

All Styles APA MLA Chicago

Even if your work is 100% original, the wrong reference can lead to plagiarism. Perfect citation is very time-consuming if you are trying to do it manually by yourself. It is hard to remember all the rules. Hence, you need to find the best citation generator for yourself. Below, you will find 15 thoroughly reviewed generators. On top of that, you will learn everything you need to know about citations.

15 Best Citation Tools

In this section, we will provide you with the best citation generators. We have analyzed all of them through our comparison table for online referencing tools and identified five main features:

  • number of citation styles it offers
  • platform compatibility
  • formats supported
  • sign-up requirement
  • price.

Let’s look at the table!

Name Citation Styles Available Platform Compatibility Account and Installation Pricing IvyScore
CiteThisForMe 1000+ styles Web and Mobile Application Compatible with DOCX and RTF No sign-up required Free 5
ZoteroBib 1000+ styles Web and Desktop Version Compatible with all word processors No sign-up required Free 5
Citavi 1000+ styles Web and Desktop Version Compatible with MS Word and TXT Quick social media registration Freemium 4
EndNote 1000+ styles Desktop App and MS Word Extension Compatible with DOCX, TXT and RTF Quick social media registration Freemium 4
BibMe APA, MLA, Chicago and around 50 other styles Only web version Compatible with MS Word No sign-up required Free 4
Mendeley 1000+ styles Desktop App and MS Word Add-on Compatible with DOCX and RTF Has to be downloaded and requires registrationarm Free 4
MyBiB APA 6, APA 7, MLA 8, MLA 7, Chicago, Harvard Web version only Compatible with MS Word Sign-up required Free 3.5
Plagly MLA 8, APA 6. Turabian, IEEE, Chicago, AMA, ASA, Vancouver Mobile App for Android Users Copy-paste option only No sign-up required Free 3.5
CiteFast APA 6, APA 7, MLA 8, Chicago Web version only Compatible with MS Word No sign-up required Free 3
NoodleTools MLA, APA, Chicago Web and Mobile Application Copy-paste option only No sign-up required Free 3
Scribbr APA, MLA Web version only Compatible with MS Word No sign-up required Free 3
Reference Generator Harvard, Numeric, MHRA, APA, Chicago, IEEE and Royal Society of Chemistry Desktop App only Copy-paste option only No sign-up required Free 2.5
OttoBib MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, BibTex, Wikipedia Web version only Copy-paste option only No sign-up required Free 2.5
Citation Builder APA 6, APA 7, MLA 7, MLA 8, Chicago, CSE/CBE Web version only Copy-paste option only No sign-up required Free 2.5
Google Scholar MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver Web version only Copy-paste option only No sign-up required Free 2.5

Now, let’s go deeper into citation generators together!

1. CiteThisForMe

CiteThisForMe Citation Generator.

CiteThisForMe offers a significant amount of citation styles. It has an IEEE reference generator. Additionally, it provides an AMA citation generator. CiteThisForMe allows you to cite many types of sources, though none of them are unusual. The user experience of the website is exceptional. Everything you need is right there on the dashboard. There are precise citation guides for all the common styles. So, in case you are confused, you can always check them out.

The citation process is quite simple, with a couple of steps. It allows you to edit everything manually and highlights all of the missing information to find it yourself.

CiteThisForMe Premium account allows you to check your writing for grammar and plagiarism issues. A paid version includes a Google add-on and a mobile application for citation generation, plus export citations to Google Drive and Evernote. It also allows you to download your bibliography in any format you want, including RTF.

Key features:

  • Many Citation Styles
  • Web Version
  • Mobile Application
  • No Sign-Up Required
  • Freemium Plan.

2. ZoteroBib

ZoteroBib Citation Generator.

Out of all of the citation generators discussed in this article, ZoteroBib offers the most significant number of citation styles, more than ten thousand. In contrast, it has only a few source types.

You paste a URL, ISBN, DOI, etc., and it creates an organized bibliography for you. After pasting, click ‘Cite,’ and your reference is ready. You can export it in many formats, such as RTF, HTML, RIS, or copy it to your clipboard. You also have the option to do the entire thing manually yourself. Everything is easy and quick. ZoteroBib allows you to edit and delete your citations freely.

The tool does not require you to create an account. It does not even have a sign-up option. It is free and ready for all your needs. Zotero is available on many platforms, including your desktop.

ZoteroBib fairly deserves five out of five on our comparison test. It might just be the best citation generator on the internet. The process as well is as simple as it gets.

Key features:

  • More than 10 000 citation styles
  • Compatible with RTF, HTML, RIS
  • Desktop version
  • No sign-up required
  • Free.

3. Citavi

Citavi reference management software.

Citavi offers two options. You can either use the web version or download the Windows version. The latter works as a Microsoft Word citation add-on.

Once you install Citavi onto your computer, you get a Citavi button in Microsoft Word. You need to open your project in Citavi, then come back to MS Word and click on the Citavi button. Then you find the Citavi project you want to assign to your document and click on it. Choose a citation style, search for the name of the author from your bibliography and cite it. Need a more detailed guide? Check out the Citavi citation manual.

Citavi is not only a citation generator but also a reference management software. It allows you to store your bibliography anytime you want. You can have storage of up to 1 GB. The problem is that it only offers a 30-day free trial. If you’re going to use it for longer, you have to pay. Citavi is mainly for people who have a career in research. Students might find it too complicated and expensive to use for their papers.

Citavi gets a four out of five on our comparison table. It offers a significant number of citation styles. It is available not only on the web, but you can also download Citavi for Windows.

Key features:

  • 1000+ citation styles
  • Compatible with DOC, DOCX, RTF, TXT
  • Desktop version, MS Word Add-on
  • 1 GB Storage
  • 30-day Free Trial.

4. EndNote

EndNote citation generator.

EndNote offers a Basic plan which lets you do pretty much everything you need. The free version is only on the web. Though it does not have all of the fancy features of the desktop version, it is easy to use and available.

The basic EndNote version allows you to collect and organize your references. You can import them, get bibliographic information from websites, and create groups for reference organization. EndNote Basic lets you collaborate with other users on your reference groups and choose their access level. Finally, as expected, you can create and insert citations.

However, if you want to go premium, you can download EndNote as an add-on for Microsoft Word. An EndNote button will appear once you do. Click on the spot in your document to place the citation and select it from the Insert Citation toolbar. You can edit the citations and even the bibliography layout in your paper.

EndNote scores four out of five in our IvyRank. You have an option to choose from dozens of citation styles. The software is compatible with many formats, such as DOCX, TXT, and RTF. Though you have to create an account, it is a quick registration via social media.

Key features:

  • 1000+ citation styles
  • Compatible with DOC, DOCX, RTF
  • Desktop and web versions, MS Word Add-on
  • Free basic plan.

5. BibMe

BibMe Citation Generator.

The website of BibMe offers a lot: you can cite all types of sources, even generate citations for court cases. It provides a variety of citation styles. Besides the traditional ones, there are styles like AAPG. There is an option for manual citation generation along with the automatic one.

The citation process is a little overwhelming. There are many ads on the page, and the actions are strange as they trick you into clicking on one of the ads. BibMe has quite an extensive list of steps before you can get your citation. However, the purpose of it is to give you the most accurate reference possible. However, the result is worth the time. Additional to copy-pasting, you can also save your references as word documents. The only downside is that it is only available on the web version.

If you are using the premium version, you even get a tool for plagiarism check to go along with your bibliography. Regardless, the citation is free, and there is no need to create an account.

According to our comparison table, BibMe gets a fifth place. Though it provides a premium account and has an abundance of ads, the citation is entirely free. You do not have to register to be able to cite. Along with all of its pros and cons, BibMe is a favorite!

Key features:

  • APA, MLA, Chicago and 50+ other styles
  • Various source types
  • Compatible with DOC, DOCX, RTF
  • Free.

6. Mendeley

Mendeley Reference Management Software.

Mendeley is a reference management software that comes in two versions:

  • The desktop version of the reference manager. It helps you to store, organize, share and edit your bibliography. You can even collaborate with your peers online.
  • Mendeley Microsoft Word citation add-on. This way, you can cite your sources right there in your word document.

Once you download Mendeley Cite, you can cite everything you need inside the word document. There is a problem with this, considering that not everyone uses Microsoft Word. In that case, it is a significant disadvantage for Mendeley. Another tool’s drawback is the absence of a web version.

However, the Mendeley reference management software is a fantastic tool that will make your life increasingly easier, mainly if you write many research papers as part of your work or education. It allows you to cite in a variety of styles. It is free to use. You can format the citations in any way you need.

Based on our comparison table, Mendeley gets a four out of five. It comes in two forms, including a Mendeley desktop app and a Microsoft Word add-on. It can be a big turn-off for someone who is looking for a quick, time-saving citation. Nevertheless, it pays off in the long run. Mendeley can be a personal favorite for you if you are willing to go through the initial trouble.

Key features:

  • 1000+ other styles
  • Various source types
  • Desktop version, MS Word add-on
  • Compatible with DOC, DOCX, RTF
  • Free.

7. MyBiB

MyBib citation generator.

When you enter the MyBiB website, a pop-up window appears immediately. This is the quickest way to cite something. It allows you to quote with the 6th and 7th generations of APA, 8th and 7th generations of MLA, Harvard, and Chicago.

The tool has a whole variety of source types that you can explore according to your needs. It allows you to change the style of your citation even after generating it. You can download your bibliography from MyBiB in many different formats, including a word document or google drive. You may even upload it directly to Mendeley.

The citation generation takes two clicks. Paste the link, press Enter, choose the correct article, and you are done. In the end, you can share the MyBiB citation you have generated. Moreover, you get to change the font and the letter size of your references. You can create projects and store your bibliography according to the project.

MyBiB scores three and a half out of five on our comparison table. It is only available in the web version. You can start citing right away the moment you enter the website. Instead of copying the bibliography to MS Word, you can even directly paste it into your Google Doc. All of these advantages and it is entirely free.

If you are looking for something speedy and effective, MyBiB is the way to go. Though the MyBiB citation generator scored a little low based on the criteria of the comparison test, it is still our favorite!

Key features:

  • APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago styles
  • Various source types
  • Available for MS Word and Google Drive
  • Upload to Mendeley option
  • Free.

8. Plagly

Plagly citation generator.

Plagly is by far the simplest citation generation tool we have covered. It allows you to cite in up to ten styles. Along with citation, Plagly also offers plagiarism and grammar checkers.

There is a Plagly extension for Google Chrome and a Plagly mobile app for Android. It also has an AI that you can have fun with as it synthesizes your writing. In a nutshell, it has got everything that a typical student might need.

Once you open the website, you need to choose the style of your citation and the types of your source. Afterward, you paste the link or write the title and your reference is ready. However, there is not much you can do with it. It only lets you copy your citation, edit it or delete it.

You also have the option to copy your entire bibliography as Plagly creates it for you. Though the options are limited, it is essential to remember that an advantage for citation generators is saving time.

Plagly takes a three and a half out of five from our comparison test. It lacks in terms of reference formatting as the only option we have is copy-pasting our citations. The website does not require you to register before you can use it. Due to that, you can save a lot of time as you quickly generate your citations. Nevertheless, it is free to use, so, enjoy!

Key features:

  • 10 citation styles
  • Plagiarism and grammar checkers
  • Google Chrome extension
  • Android app
  • Free.

9. CiteFast

CiteFast reference generator.

CiteFast has a straightforward and user-friendly interface. It offers three citation styles: MLA (8th edition), APA (6th and 7th editions), and Chicago.

Cite various sources, including web pages and books, and even DVDs. You can see your references on the right side of the screen as you generate them. All you have to do is enter the URL of the webpage you want to cite or the title of a book and click Enter. Voila! In the end, you have the option to save the citation in your references. There is an option for manual referencing in addition to automatic generation.

According to our comparison table, CiteFast gets only three out of five. It has fewer citation styles available than expected. Another downside is that the only known version of it is the web. On the plus side, you can save your references as MS Word files. Most importantly, it is an utterly free citation maker!

Key features:

  • MLA, APA, Chicago citation styles
  • Various source types
  • No sign-up required
  • Export to MS Word
  • Free.

10. NoodleTools

NoodleTools citation generator.

NoodleTools is very different from all the other citation tools. It is not simply a citation generator but rather a research management platform. Hence, its reference features are not very broad. NoodleTools gives you two opportunities to generate references:

  • NoodleTools Express. It allows you to create a citation manually. You need to fill in all of the information yourself, and in the end, it will generate a quotation based on that information. It gives you a minimal number of citation styles. It is helpful if you only need to cite one source quickly.
  • NoodleTools MLA Lite. For this one, you have to create an account. You can cite your sources and save them in MLA style. NoodleTools has no premium features, and these citation tools are all free. It also provides you with 8th generation MLA templates. Long story short, NoodleTools is very MLA-focused.

According to our comparison table, NoodleTools gets three out of five. It does not allow you to format your citations besides copy-pasting. On the upside, its services are entirely free. There are mobile applications for NoodleTools on both App Store and Play Market.

In other words, use this software only if you need a quick, one-time reference. It cannot serve you as a long-term citation generator. If you need any help, a tutorial shows you how to cite sources on NoodleTools. You can contact their helpdesk any time with any questions you might have.

Key features:

  • MLA, APA, Chicago citation styles
  • Research management system
  • Mobile application
  • Quick one-time citation
  • Free.

11. Scribbr

Scribbr citation generator.

Scribbr offers a limited number of citation styles. In particular, you can either cite with APA or MLA. However, it has citation guides for Chicago as well. There is also an option for checking citations and editing them. The types of sources you can cite are also quite limited. You can only generate citations for the most common types of sources. Nevertheless, this will not be a downside for most people.

The citation process is simple:

  1. Choose from a drop-down menu named Citation Tools whether you want to cite with MLA or APA.
  2. In the next step, you need to choose the type of your source.
  3. Paste the link or upload the file, fill out any missing information and click Cite Source.

The website keeps a list of all of your citations: you can sort them, filter them or even group them. There is also an option to search through bibliography and export citations as a Word document. Navigating around the website is easy and logical. Scribbr also offers Knowledge Base for citation, writing, and even researching.

You can only generate citations with APA, and MLA can be very limiting for most people. Unfortunately, it only offers a web version. On the plus side, you can export your citations in many formats, other than just copy-pasting.

Registration on the website is not required. However, it is still a quick process if you want to sign up if you would like to store your citations for longer.

Key features:

  • MLA and APA citation styles
  • Citation knowledge base
  • Export to MS Word
  • Search through bibliography
  • Free.

12. Reference Generator

Reference Generator.

Reference Generator only offers a desktop application, which you can download from the Microsoft Store. It allows you to create many projects and organize your references according to the project. It only offers seven citation styles. However, the most limiting part of this tool is that you can only cite books, journals, or websites.

You can edit and delete your citations, but there is not much else you can do in terms of formatting besides copy-pasting. There is also an option to share a bibliography via email, messages, Notes, wi-fi, Bluetooth, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, etc.

The reference-making process is quite simple:

  1. Download the app from the Microsoft store
  2. Create a new project.
  3. Proceed to generate references inside the project.
  4. Choose the style and source type before you cite.
  5. Fill all the fields and generate your citation.
  6. Once you save the reference, you can also get the in-text citation.

Reference Generator scores two and a half out of five on our comparison test. It offers the main citation styles, but if you need to go beyond that, you can’t. There is no web version, which is terrible if you need it quickly. Citation formatting is not that great with Reference Generator. On the upside, it does not require you to create an account, and everything is free.

Key features:

  • Harvard, Numeric, MHRA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, and Royal Society of Chemistry citation styles
  • Books, journals and websites citation
  • Citation management
  • Free.

13. OttoBib

OttoBib citation generator.

The only things you can generate citations for on OttoBib are books. To do this, you have to use the ISBN of the book. You can cite with Chicago, Turabian, APA, MLA, or Wikipedia.

There is no option to edit the citation, and no in-text citations are available. You can only copy the reference. The tool doesn’t allow you to store a bibliography. If you want to create another quote, you will lose the old one. However, OttoBib does a pretty accurate job anyway. Also, it offers Google Chrome Extension, which is a plus.

The citation generation process is swift if you already have the ISBN of your book. Once you paste the ISBN into the field, the citation will be immediately generated if it is valid.

OttoBib has a web version only. The app does not require you to create an account. Moreover, it doesn’t even provide you with the option to do so.

The website scores two and a half out of five based on our comparison test. If you are looking for quality book citations and do not mind looking for ISBNs, OttoBib is the right option.

Key features:

  • APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, Wikipedia citation styles
  • No sign-up required
  • High quality and accurate citations
  • Free.

14. Citation Builder

Citation Builder.

Citation Builder is a manual reference generator. The source types are limited as there are only about seven of them. If you are looking for common source types, then you are in luck. However, you are not going to find anything rare on Citation Builder. The reference styles are also limited. It offers several generations of APA and MLA, Chicago, and CSE.

The website is quite simple. Once you open it, you need to choose the source type, citation style, and fields. You have to fill out all of them and click ‘Build Citation.’ It gives you a reference that you can copy to your clipboard. That’s it! It sounds easy and fast, but it takes quite a bit of time as nothing is automated. Also, you cannot save your references anywhere. The in-text citation is not available too.

Citation Generator gets two and a half out of five according to the criteria of our comparison test. The tool is not available on any other platform besides the web. There is no need to register on the website. You can start citing once you open the website.

If you want to be more intentional with your citations and generate them manually and for free, Citation Builder is for you.

Key features:

  • APA, MLA, Chicago, CSE citation styles
  • No sign-Up required
  • Free.

15. Google Scholar

Google Scholar.

Google Scholar gives you the ability to generate citations and also helps you find sources. It offers around nine citations styles, which are the most demanded ones of all. You do not have to choose a source type as you directly cite the sources from Google Scholar. You are offered all of the styles at once.

Here is how citation generation with Google Scholar works:

  • Open the website and search for the topic of your research. The tool brings up various articles, books, and other sources that contain all the information you need for your paper. So, your research and citation happen in the place.
  • Once you find the source, you would like to use, click the button in the search results. Google Scholar brings up the reference in every style it offers.
  • Copy the citation you need, and that’s it!

Of course, there is no option to store your references anywhere, as you can only copy them. Overall, it is a helpful tool for most students. It is an all-in-one website and makes things incredibly quick.

On our comparison test, Google Scholar scores two and a half out of five. It only has a web version, which in its case makes a lot of sense, as people usually do deep research on the internet with a computer. Another downside is that there is no way to format your references. Google Scholar does not require you to sign up, which is great. It is free and does not even require any purchases.

  • 9 citation styles
  • No sign-Up required
  • Free
  • Easy to use.

Citation Tools vs. Reference Management Software

You are probably confused between reference management software and citation tools. Here is a small guide to help you understand their difference. Some citation tools include reference management software. Usually, they go hand in hand. However, it is crucial to understand the nuances between them.

Here’s a simple comparison that will help you to decide which option would work best:

Citation Tools Reference Management Software
Citation generation ✔️ ✔️
In-text citations ✔️ ✔️
Of sources ✔️
Works cited list ✔️
Organizing citation ✔️
Pricing Free Typically paid

Now that you know about the citation software let’s understand how to choose the best one!

How to Choose the Best Citation Program?

Are you struggling to choose the best citation program for yourself? Let us help! There is a checklist you need to take into account.

✅ Does the program have the citation style that you need?

Usually, most citation programs have the most common and demanded citation styles, such as APA or MLA. However, if your style is non-traditional, you should look for a program that has it, and it might take some time.

✅ Does the program generate citations for your source type?

Like the styles, most generators have common source types, like books, websites, videos, etc. However, you might need to cite something like a court case. Hence, you might need to search for a generator that has that option for a while.

✅ Does the program store your bibliography for you?

If it does, it will make your life a lot easier as you will not have to keep manual track of all of your sources. It also means that the program will organize everything for you, and you can copy it and move on.

✅ Does the program require you to purchase a premium account?

Usually, you can generate all kinds of citations that you need for free. If a program requires you to pay for something that would otherwise be free, it is probably not your best option.

✅ Does the program save your time?

For example, if the program requires you to go through a long and tedious sign-up process, you can find something better that does not waste your time. Usually, the best programs are the ones that let you cite as soon as you open the website.

If the citation program checks all of these boxes, then you have got a match!

Conclusion

That’s it! We hope you had a good read and found your best free citation manager. As you go along your academic journey, your needs might change. Feel free to come back to this article and pick another one. In case you need more tools, feel free to check out this article on our website.

If you still have questions, make sure to check out our FAQ below!

FAQ

📌 What Is a citation generator?
Plagiarism is widespread these days. To avoid it, you are required to submit a list of sources with your paper. The items in that list are called citations. They need to contain specific information, such as the title, publication year, etc. Manually generating them can be time-consuming. Therefore, there are citation generators that do it for you. All you need to do is choose the style and provide the link or the file of your source.
📌 Are citation generators reliable?
Though citation generators are handy, you should never fully trust them. Make sure to double-check the citations yourself. The generator could confuse names and other essential details. You might need to add parts of the information yourself. Still, we cannot say that citation programs are not reliable. Most of the time, they do their job well. It is essential to go over your instructor's requirements carefully. You might have to adjust the generated citations a little.
📌 How do I choose a citation style?
Your instructor assigns the citation style to you. Some schools and colleges tend to stick to one specific style for all papers. This changes as you advance in your academic career. You get more freedom to choose a style that works better for you. There are several styles that you can use depending on the discipline of your paper. You can use MLA for humanities, such as literature and philosophy. APA is for social sciences and engineering. Sometimes, writers use Chicago for humanities, but it is typical for sciences, like physics and chemistry. There are many more. All of them are pretty similar, with nuanced differences.

References