For example, if I want to get the reference in APA, what web resources provide this style? I found a way through Refworks, but it requires several steps. Is there a faster way?

  • This seems like a polling question to me. There are probably a hundred ways of getting a reference into a specific style. The exact speed will depend on what the input is and what the output is and what you are comfortable with. – StrongBad Jan 23 '14 at 9:15
  • 2
    This probably was not intended as a polling question. The definitive answer is "Use reference management software" and describe the benefits of such. – Ben Norris Jan 23 '14 at 11:46

With Zotero you can choose a format to export items among several, including APA. Then you can drag and drop a set of items and the references are formatted according to what you chose.

You can even define your own formats with some Javascript programming if you plan to do this very often.

PD: you should have added the reference before in Zotero before, which is a one-click operation (assuming the data is right), or you can import a set of references from BibTex and other formats.

  • I like it. My university has a seminar on Zotero. Note to myself: click on paper icon on browser link – theta30 Feb 6 '14 at 4:57

Write in LaTeX, and use BibTeX which will automatically format your references in various styles.

  • 3
    Or use biblatex+biber, easier to customise. – gerrit Jan 22 '14 at 16:29
  • Not all journals will accept raw LaTeX files using BibLaTeX. For example, it is incompatible with RevTeX which is expected by all APS journals. – aeismail Jan 22 '14 at 16:52
  • 1
    @aeismail With bibtex I sometimes paste in the resulting .bbl-file, is this not possible with biblatex/biber? – gerrit Jan 22 '14 at 19:11
  • Giving a .bbl file is probably OK; but you need to check if the journal accepts biblatex before submitting your .tex files unless you manually do the conversion. – aeismail Jan 22 '14 at 20:04
  • @gerrit you can but it is a little messy: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/12175/… – StrongBad Jan 23 '14 at 9:12

Google Scholar has a nice tool for this. If you search for the article, under each of the search results is a "cite" button which will automatically show you the reference in MLA, APA, and Chicago.

  • 1
    The same goes for Mendeley - at the bottom of each article page there is a Cite this document section with tabs to show the reference in different formats. – fileunderwater Jan 23 '14 at 13:12

I recommend using bibtex: the procedure is very simple:

1) Create an empty file and name it "myreferences.bib" (or any other ".bib" name)

2) Go to the website of the paper you would like to reference to and download the bibtex code. If this option is not available you can search for the article in Google Scholar and click "Import into BibTeX"

3) Copy/Paste the cose into your ".bib" file

4) Enter your latex article, add the references at the correct points, and write, just before the \end{document}, command:


For a list of bibliography styles see for example: http://sites.stat.psu.edu/~surajit/present/bib.htm

5) Compile your code using Latex. Compile your code using Bibtex. Compile your code using Latex.

You are done!


If you are writing in MS Word, just go to References and select APA.

Word References

Then Insert Citation, Add New Source and fill in everything you need.

This will handle your in-text referencing as well as your "Works Cited" section.

Once you have added a reference, using it again is as simple as Insert Citation and clicking the existing citation.


To be honest, I've found that just taking the time to actually learn the style guide is MUCH faster in the long run than putting everything into a citation tool. Using a citation tool basically adds at least one extra step, and that equates to lost time. You have to be able to identify the correct information either way, and you have to know what the final citations should look like either way. But if you type them in yourself, you save yourself the extra steps of 1) opening another program/accessing another website, 2) reviewing what that tool spits out at you, 3) copying it over to your work, and 4) adjusting any formatting as needed after copy/pasting. Knowing hotkeys for italicizing/bolding/underlining as needed is also a time-saver.


I have been working and academia for many years, and recently as a developer of Paperpile I came across this problem several times.

All modern citation/reference managers rely on CSL, the citation style language. For more information on this, see http://citationstyles.org/.

Among these 7,000+ styles, it is, however, difficult to find the citation format you want to have. For this purpose, I would suggest to use the CSL editor search by example (http://editor.citationstyles.org/searchByExample/).

You can type in the inline citation and how the formatted citation should look like, and it will find the citation style that matches most closely. Once, you know the name of the citation style you want to use, you can actually use Paperpile to get the formatted citation (including bold and italic formatting). You select the reference you want to create the citation for and simply hit Control+C. You will find it in your clipboard and can copy it to Word, Google Docs, and others.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.