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What software can I use to help with referencing?

There are a number of software packages that will help you with references, including Endnote or Reference Manager. These packages are often used by professional researchers, but since they are often available at low cost through university licences, there is no reason why students shold not use them too. Nowadays, there are even a lot of free packages.

I use Endnote. This is not an endorsement, as I started using it for no other reason than that people around me were using it too, so we could exchange our databases and work on texts together.

 I'll explain the basics of Endnote as an example of a reference package.


What Endnote does
Endnote is a database package that allows you to type in all the necessary information of a source document and then past it into a text when ou need it. It has standard fields for author, date, title, etc. This means you will only have to type in this information once, rather than every time you write a paper or even edit a paper's references. Endnote makes sure your references end up in your text in the correct format.

Endnote and Word
The software is integrated with Word so that you can select a source in Endnote and then insert it into your document (Alt-2). Endnote has its own little toolbar at the top of your Word window, if the installation with Word goes well. (You may have to install it manually with a right click on the top bar in Word, which will bring up all the available toolbars.)

This is what it looks like in Word:

Most is clear from the tooltips. Note the [ ] with the pencil, "edit citation", as this will allow you to add a page number to the in-text citation. This is not a feature all styles accept, so it will only appear if you select a style that does. APA is one of the styles that requires page numbers to refer to the precise location in a text, essential for quotations.

The input screen
This is what the input screen looks like (ctrl-n creates an empty record):

Notice how this is a reference for a journal article, selected in the drop-down menu after "reference type". So this is it. You only have to type this info once. If you really hate typing, you could even cut-and-paste it, if available.

The reference list
This is the main screen, where you select a reference to be inserted:

Selecting a style
In Endnote, you can choose what reference style you use.  These are called "output styles". The APA style is available, as well as the Chicago Style, along with hundres of others, used by various scientific journals. Here is how to use it:
edit>Output Style>Open Style Manager... and then tick the styles you use most, e.g. APA 5th and close the screen
Now when you go edit>Output Style you will find APA 5th  is there for easy access. Select it and it will stay selected until you decide to use another style.

Endnote in use
Once you have put the reference in the database and you are writing your text, a typical insertion of an in-text, author-date type citation, looks like this:

  1. alt-1 takes you to endnote

  2. select the reference

  3. alt-2 inserts it in the text and takes you to word, while the item is added to the end of your document in the reference list.

It may take a little getting used to and it can be confusing to get it to work properly with Word, but once it works, it is that simple.

This covers the main features of Endnote. This should get you going with basic everyday use. Beyond that, I'm afraid I have to refer you to the manual.

Getting Endnote
As a student at a Dutch university or college, you can buy Endnote through Surfspot, for a mere fistful of Euros.