An introduction to citation tools

1. Introduction - how do we cite?

1.2 The drawbacks

Not everyone is convinced that citation managers are the best option. There are still plenty of historians who type in each footnote/endnote manually and create their bibliographies in a similar manner. There are no rights or wrongs on this and so it is usually best to give citation managers a try and decide what works best for you.

Some of the downsides of using citation managers are:

  • To add entries tend to slow down the writing process. If you are mid-flow with an argument you may not wish to spend time adding a reference in this manner. A quick ‘stand-in’ footnote might suffice.
  • Connectivity with Text editors such as Microsoft Word has improved greatly over the years but this varies depending on the tool you decide to use.
  • Each tool will come with a set of standard ‘styles’, however these do not always conform to the style that you wish to use (or are obliged to use). It is generally possible to create your own bespoke style for each tool but it varies to how easy this is to achieve. Most historians find that they have to check through their citations to make minor changes (admittedly this is little different to what you have to do if you type the citations in manually).
  • Some tools cost money plus there is no guarantee that the company who produces the tool will continue to exist or develop the tool. At the very least the tool will be updated incrementally and may change functionality at a moments notice.