Out of Cite, Out of Mind: Tips for Nailing Your Next Bibliography

At the Writing Center, we’re happy to help you through every stage of the writing process, but unfortunately, we’re not experts on every single citation style—nobody really is! The important thing is knowing how to find information on citations. Citing your work can be tricky, so to help you out, here are a few resources you can use while writing your next paper.

The Library

Did you know that you can find all the style guides at the library? All you have to do is ask at the circulation desk, and the receptionist can provide you with the AP Stylebook, MLA Handbook, Chicago Manual of Style, and APA Publication Manual, among others. Though you can’t take these books home, you can check out a book for two hours with your MSU ID. The Chicago Manual of Style is also available free online with your MSU library account, so you don’t even have to leave home to complete your bibliography.

Citation Machine (www.citationmachine.net) and Bibme (www.bibme.org)

Citation Machine is a website that allows you to pick your citation style and either search the name of your source or plug in the key details about your source. Click the “create citation” button, and you have your completed citation ready to go! Bibme is very similar to Citation Machine and offers the same services. Try both and figure out what works best for you. When working with sites like these, it’s usually a good idea to consult your style guide just to make sure the citation you received is correct.

Purdue OWL (www.owl.english.purdue.edu/owl)

Purdue OWL offers a wide variety of information, including citation examples for every style guide. Use the “Research and Citation” section of the site to view comprehensive information about bibliographies and citations for each style. Besides offering citation tips, Purdue OWL also offers plenty of other helpful tips about writing, so be sure to check those out when you’re in a writing rut.

Zotero (www.zotero.org) and RefWorks (www.refworks.com)

With Zotero, you can collect all your research and store it in your own personal database. The program organizes your sources into collections and then allows you to cite your sources in any style—Zotero offers thousands of publication formats. RefWorks is a similar site that also allows you to create bibliographies from your personal database. Both have slightly different features, so play around to find the website that best fits your needs.

Still stumped? Google is your best friend. Just make sure your sources are reliable. You can usually trust university websites, and if you’re still struggling, ask your professor for help.

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