Referencing headaches? Online tools can help – info tip

Do you struggle with referencing? Have you been Laptop, book and glassesmarked down for incomplete or inconsistent references? There are some online tools that can help!

Why use online referencing tools?

  1. You can use them to store accurate details of publications to use in your assignments.
  2. They can save you time compiling, checking and correcting references – just insert the citation and a bibliography is created automatically. You can also reformat your citations in a different style at the click of a button.
  3. You can add notes to your references, to remind yourself of specific parts you might want to use.
  4. Some allow you to store PDFs of the sources with your references, so that everything is together and in most cases available on any computer.

If you use an online tool you still need to know when to include a citation, and understand the principles of referencing. You can find help on this in Study Advice’s referencing guide or referencing video tutorials. You also need to be aware of which style your department requires you to use – consult your course handbook for details.

Which one should I use?

If you are an undergraduate or masters student…

… we recommend using EndNote Web. This online resource can be used on any computer (including your own PC or laptop) and is free to use.

You can get accurate reference details into it by: using the Online Search facility with the Library catalogue; the export option from Web of Science or EBSCO resources; or by importing records from Summon and other databases.

Once the EndNote toolbar is installed in Word, you can insert citations from EndNote Web into your assignments and it will automatically build the bibliography at the end. Select from a list of common referencing styles (including the University’s own ‘Harvard for Reading’ style) to format your bibliography.

EndNote Web is fully supported by the Library, so if you need 1-1 help, there will be someone here who can help.

To get started, come along to a workshop, try our step-by-step guide to using EndNote Web, or watch an introductory video.

If you are a research postgraduate or member of staff…

… we recommend using Desktop EndNote. This can be installed free of charge on any University-owned computer, and is already available on most campus PCs. A personal copy can be purchased at the discounted price of around £98.

References can be easily captured from many databases, and you can use the ‘Find full-text’ feature to automatically attach article PDFs to those references. A very large number of referencing styles are provided, including those for specific journals. You can download other ones from the EndNote website, or create your own by editing existing styles. It is also possible to share your EndNote library by synchronising with an EndNote Web account – useful for collaboration.

Find out more by coming along to a workshop, trying our step-by-step guides, or watching a brief introductory video.

Other options

There are a number of other referencing tools available, including Mendeley, Zotero and Word’s own referencing facility. Although we do not provide support for these, we have provided links to online guidance and videos via our Managing references guide.


If you need help with using EndNote, or with any aspect of citing references, contact your subject liaison librarian who will be happy to help.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager & Liaison Librarian.