Using Sources Correctly

55 Using Citation Generators

A citation generator is a piece of software that creates a Works Cited list for the writer. The writer types in the details about the source, and the citation generator creates the citations and the Works Cited list.

Some of them also create in-text (parenthetical) citations.

Sounds too good to be true, yes?

That’s because it is.

I have yet to find a citation generator that works correctly. Most make at least a couple of errors—often more—which means you end up having to go back and manually correct the source. And this means that if you would have just created your own source citation in the beginning, you would have saved time!

I always suggest that students stay away from citation generators for the above reason. I also feel that it’s important to learn to do this skill on your own before turning to a piece of software: it’s much like learning your multiplication tables before using a calculator to do it for you. Plus, the newest version of MLA (version 8) is so simple that creating citations is quick and easy.

That said, if you are lucky enough to find a citation generator that works, it may save you some time. But be wary. Remember what I said above: “I have yet to find a citation generator that works correctly.” Our institution’s librarians have said the same.

Text Attributions

  • This chapter was adapted from “Using Citation Generators” in The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Allison Kilgannon.


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Advanced English Copyright © 2021 by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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