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How to utilize reference manager programs in essay writing

References, references, as far as the eye can see!

Thankfully, managing your gigantic pile of papers and books can be made simple by the use of reference manager programs.

It may seem like a waste of time (or even money) to learn a whole new system of organisation. You may even think that simply typing out the details of each book and article, and then copying and pasting when you need them, is faster. But I assure you, it’s not. Citations and bibliographies often have to be altered numerous times, and these changes are often the source of errors in your final version.

What can these programs actually do?

Reference managers are not simply for keeping your references in a handy electronic list. These programs will also organise your citations and allow you to change them (together with your bibliography) according to the many different academic styles that may be required by your professors.

For example, the classic ‘numbered’ style uses citations in the text organised in ascending numerical format, with the reference list at the end of the main text following the same order. On the other hand, the ‘author-date’ style requires bracketed citations and the reference list ordered alphabetically. Using a program to manage these citations allows you to switch between styles with absolute ease.

Reference managers make changing your document style quick and easy.

What would you do if you suddenly realised you used the wrong citation style the night before a major assignment is due? Or that your supervisor wants you to change the style of your thesis? You certainly don’t want to have to change every single reference by hand!

Or what about if you decide to insert a new citation in the introductory paragraph of a long essay? If you are using the name/date format for citations, inserting a new citation may not be such a big deal. But if you need to use the numerical format for citations and references, you could be working for hours, painstakingly altering every citation so that they follow the correct format.

Using reference managers, changing the style of citations together with the order of the reference list is as simple as a click of a button.

So what are you waiting for? Select a program and begin experiencing just how easy it can be to construct a well-referenced academic document.

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