I confess to a love/hate relationship with citations. A well-researched paper full of citations that I can easily follow to further resources makes me happier than a bird with a french fry. And I've written enough at this point that I don't hate writing citations anymore. But I used to. Oh, how I hated them. I was an unreasoning dynamo of fury when it came to properly formatting citations.
That's why I'm so glad that the young researchers of today have tools to assist with collecting and formatting proper citations. Your experience as a new researcher need not be as harsh as mine.
With that in mind, here are a few of the groovy options to assist you:
- The OWL at Purdue: Not the kind that eats mice or brings letters to magical school kids, but an Online Writing Lab. With style guides for APA and MLA, the OWL has all of the most used bits of the print style manuals. The OWL was authoritative enough to get me through graduate school.
- Easybib: Just plug the information into a form and Easybib will spit out a fully-formed citation --- copy and paste to your bibliography!* It builds citations for free if you're using MLA (and don't mind the ads), and contains details of citation elements for both MLA and APA.
- Citation Builder: Similar to Easybib, you can just plug the citation elements into a form and off you go!* It's free for APA and MLA, and brought to you by the fine librarians of North Carolina State University.
- KnightCite: Chicago and Turabian users feeling left out in the cold? Along with MLA and APA, KnightCite (from the Hekman Library at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI) can build citations for you too!*
- Refworks: For the heavy hitters out there. Have so many references and citations that you can barely keep track of them? Writing multiple papers with literature reviews that measure cited sources in the scores? Refworks is for you, O Scholar! Sign up for an account and combine with Write-N-Cite to drop references into your paper as you write it. Refworks is the handiest thing since pants with pockets!
- Zotero: Similar to Refworks, Zotero is an open source citation manager that works right from the browser. Not as many bells and whistles, but its open source nature let's Zotero work for everyone.
*BUT, double-check it. Any automated citation generator will have errors creep in --- periods where there should be commas, improper capitalization, too many spaces. Trust, but verify with an authoritative style guide.