Referencing software

Advantages of software

If used correctly, referencing software has a number of advantages - it can:

  • save all your references in a personal account
  • format your references correctly
  • save you time and stress
  • keep a record of all the sources you use
  • organise your research project as you plan it

You still need to know the basics of when to reference - no referencing software will tell you when a reference is needed.

You should always quality check references created for you by a referencing software to ensure they are free of error.

There are several different referencing software packages available.


RefWorks saves references into an online account. You can store documents and quickly create reference lists, as well as cite and create a reference list in Microsoft Word. Learning Resources pays for this for you and this is the software we recommend.

Citavi is freely available, and can be used individually or in collaboration with other users. Users can usefully add notes, tasks and keywords, but there are a number of important limitations in using this service. References would, in the main need to be added manually, as there is no facility to import citations from Discover, Google, Scholar and many of the electronic resources used by students at the University of Bedfordshire. There is no facility to cite standard webpages through this service, although citations and references can be created from documents cited on the web.

Cite This For Me is a reference generator with both an online and app version; search within their database, and use the app to scan book barcodes, to save references in your personal library in a variety of styles (although UoB Harvard is not included). There is no option to export references from DISCOVER, the catalogue, or other databases, but you can create references manually if not available in the Cite This For Me database.

Colwiz is a free tool with online and desktop versions. You can search within the colwiz Library or use the web bookmarking tool on certain databases, including Google Scholar, (although it does not work with DISCOVER) to quickly pull references in, and you can attach and highlight/annotate PDFs. You can share citations with other users and set up groups to work with others on collaborative reference lists, and there are calendar and messaging features too. The desktop version, which you can download for free to your personal PC/laptop, offers additional options, including exporting citations in a choice of styles (although UoB Harvard is not included and there is not currently any option for creating your own style), a plug-in for inserting citations in Microsoft Word, and importing citations from an Endnote, Mendeley or Zotero library. There are also mobile apps available which sync with the desktop version.

EndNote is a very comprehensive referencing software which saves files to a particular PC, rather than in the cloud. University of Bedfordshire staff can get this installed on a university computer by placing an ICT helpdesk request. The Four Steps to EndNote X9 (PDF 2,132 KB / DOCX 136 KB) guide will help you to learn the basics of EndNote.

This resource primarily supports staff and PhD students; you can discuss with your supervisor how you would get access to it as part of your PhD programme. Students can purchase a personal copy of EndNote at a discounted rate.

Please note that EndNote does not currently include the University of Bedfordshire's Harvard style. If you are using EndNote and require help with technical issues, please contact

EndNote Web, the web based version of EndNote, is easier to use than the full version and a basic package is available for free. If you are using EndNote Desktop then you can use the Sync feature to align your references across both versions. Please note that Endnote does not include the University of Bedfordshire's Harvard style.

Mendeley freely available to download and reasonably easy to use. Registration is required. Mendeley allows users to import references from Discover, Google Scholar and many of the electronic resources to which the University subscribes. Once registered, you can collaborate with other researchers and import pdf files with references, to which annotations can be made. As with a number of referencing tools, the (correct) importing of references from webpages needs to be done manually. Mendeley is popular because of its social media and sharing features.

MS Word 2016 referencing function is conveniently available in the References tab in Word. This includes the 'Cite Them Right' Harvard referencing style.

Microsoft Word referencing function is conveniently available in the References tab in Word. Unfortunately it does not include the Harvard style.

Zotero is a free referencing software package that uses open source technology. It is integrated within web browsers so content can be downloaded with a single click. The software offers online syncing, generation of in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies.Zotero was launched in 2006 and has a large and well established community of users.

This guide uses the UoB-Harvard system. Always consult your unit handbook or tutor to make sure you are using the correct system for the unit. Some subjects use other systems. Find out more here

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