If helping your students write papers is a part of your school day, you probably already know that there are enough issues to focus on without having to spend a lot of time teaching your students how to build a bibliography and correctly cite their sources. Your time is likely better spent helping create a focused, concise piece of work that uses excellent grammar and sentence structure.
There are a lot of online bibliography tools out there that can help students learn to build bibliographies and ensure that their citations are correct, without them (and you) spending hours pouring over MLA, APA, or Chicago handbooks. The options include browser extensions, templates, and online citation builders (where you plug in your resource and the citation is generated for you.
EasyBib comes as a Chrome Extension, app (for iOS and Android), Google App, and website. There is a tool to generate a citation from a variety of possible resources (59!), and the chrome extension also rates a site for credibility. MLA citations are free, other styles are available with a premium account (1 year is $19.99). The premium account also offers you parenthetical citations, footnotes, and a few other things that the free option doesn’t have.
Citelighter is a great way to build your bibliography, and also online and or offline research findings. Citelighter comes as a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) and lets you pick sections of webpages and save them with any notes you want and then create an APA, MLA, or Chicago bibliography. Citelighter also catalogs all the citations people make and groups them in a gallery called “Knowledge Cards,” which contain groupings of information on a particular subject.
RefDot is a Google Chrome extension. It helps users keep track of information and formatting references for use in bibliographies. When you’ve found an online resource, you can just click the refDot icon in the browser and enter the information you need for your bibliography. One of the great aspects of RefDot is that it prompts you to include certain pieces of information needed for the bibliography.
NoodleTools is an online resource that, among other things, lets you create citations (MLA, APA, Chicago) for almost any source. You first select the style you need, then the type of source, and it prompts you with a fill-in form with all of the information you need to properly create citations. There is a premium edition for those who need to create large source lists, or for schools, teachers, or librarians ($15/year).
Many students already use Google Docs, and so it presents an easy alternative to using a browser extension, signing up for an account, or paying for a service to help build their bibliography in APA, MLA, AMA, and Chicago Style. Since many bibliographies require a lot of formatting, checking the list of pre-made bibliography templates in Google Docs can help make the process a bit easier. The one downside of this method is that the student will still need to know, in many cases, what information to include in the citation rather than having a program that prompts them for it.
BibMe offers a bibliography maker, a citation guide, and the ability to save the bibliographies you’ve created. You can either search for a resource or manually enter the information you have, and it will prompt you for the information you need for each type of citation. BibMe is free and doesn’t offer a premium or paid version, but they do note that they accept donations via PayPal to support their free service.