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Using citation managers to help with the research and writing process

This guide introduces you to the utility of citation managers.

What is a citation manager and why would I use one?

Citing the material you are using is an integral part of the research and writing process. A citation manager (sometimes called a reference manager) is a piece of software that helps you store and organize your research. Essentially, it allows you to build your own personal library of citations which you can use to generate bibliographies in any desired format (APA, MLA, Chicago, or even styles for specific journals). 

Citation managers integrate with word processing software (like Microsoft Word), providing the capability to drop citations into your paper while you write. How cool is that?  It is no secret that many students (and researchers for that matter!) struggle with keeping track of all the works they are referencing, so if you feel like one of those people, you've come to the right place! Read on....

Citation management tools enable you to collect citations and their related full text through database interfaces, web browser plugins, and through the dragging and dropping of PDF files.  As well, they have improved capability to ingest non-textual works like PowerPoint slides and YouTube videos. 

Wikipedia maintains an up to date list of the various citation managers (and there are many!), but the one UVic Libraries supports is Zotero.

Why Zotero?

There are several reasons UVic Libraries has put their support behind the Zotero citation manager.

  1. It is free;
  2. It has a robust support network, with a searchable knowledge base and documentation;
  3. It is open source, developed by an independent, nonprofit organization and not locked down to any particular institution or subscription (which means you can port your library with you indefinitely);
  4. It can convert your citations to over 8,100 citation styles and integrates with MS Office, Office Libre, and Google Docs; and,
  5. It has a focus on privacy, so you always stay in control of your own data.

So, have we convinced you to find out more about citation managers?  If so, please explore the tabs on this guide.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance!

Book a citation help appointment with a librarian:


As great as citation managers are, they are not infallible, and occasionally prone to error. Because of this, you still need to have some basic knowledge about the components of a citation for any given style, to ensure that the citations generated are correct.  In other words, double-check what is generated, especially if you are handing in the final product for marks or submitting a manuscript for publication.  If you are struggling with the format of a citation, check out our citation help page, or book an appointment with a librarian.

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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.