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Citation and Reference Management: Overview

Information about citation and citation management

Why Cite?

ScottyWhy cite?

Think of your reader as a detective, and citations as a trail of clues to help them understand where your information is coming from. If they want to follow up on a clue, your list of citations functions as a kind of map, indicating where they need to go to find out more.

CMU's Policy on Academic Integrity states that "in all academic work to be graded, the citation of all sources is required" —  this includes generative AI tools, code, data, movies, and social media as well as webpages and traditional scholarly research. 

Citing is part of being a good research citizen: you are giving credit to those whose work came before yours, and can expect others to cite your own work in turn. 


The Basics

A brief introduction to citing and why we cite from North Carolina State University

Click the video and select "...More" for transcripts


Here's a brief introduction to various citation styles from Kevin deLaplante of Critical Thinker Academy



Here are some links to major citation style manuals from our libraries:

For more on citing see our Citing Print & Digital Sources on our Reference Shelf Guide.

Good information sources with examples on citing and general writing:


There are two main types of tools that can help with you with citing sources:

1.  Citation Generators:  These tools generate a citation that you can view instantly so you can copy it, paste it into your paper, or email/save for later retrieval. 

You can do this in two ways:

a. Using database tools:  Databases often allow you to specify the citing style when you save or import results from them.  Below are examples of how you can generate a citations from the Carnegie Mellon Library Catalog and from a research database:

Carnegie Mellon Library Catalog Example:  After you've entered a search, look for the quotes above each item and click it, then choose the style you'd like to generate

Note: you can also click on the mail icon then select  the style to generate. Or click on "..." to see file format options for exporting into a citation manager. To generate or export multiple citations,you can save results in a folder then process the selected results all at once

Research Database Example:  After you've entered a search, look for the specific ways you can save, import, or print citations.  In the sample database below, you have to save a result to a folder before you get the option to do any of these things: 









Once you open the folder where you saved your citations, click on it to get options that will generate citations that you can print, email, or cut and paste.

b.  Free web tools: There are citation generating tools where you can enter reference information manually (such as author, title, journal, pages, etc.).  These are handy when you have a small amount of references, but the quality depends on the information you input.

Here are some popular (and free) online citation generation tools:

BibMe - BibMe quickly generates citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard and thousands of other styles for your bibliography. I

Citation Machine - Cite sources in APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and Harvard.

Citefast - Claims to be the web's fastest and most accurate citation generator. Generate a bibliography, in-text citations and a title page in APA 6th edition, MLA and Chicago.

EasyBib - Automatic works cited and bibliography formatting for MLA, APA and Chicago/Turabian citation styles. Now supports 7th edition of MLA.

2Citation Management Tools:  These tools automatically harvest and format citations and full-text documents.  Many of the best also have other functions citing as you write, collaborating and sharing capabilities, and social networking (see the Citation Management@CMU for supported tools).

Here's a short video from Western University that sums it up.

Transcript is available by clicking on the video and selecting "... More"

Need Help?

Please search our events calendar for upcoming workshops, or contact contact your liaison librarian with questions, for one on one assistance, or to suggest a tool.