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A research guide for students at Cal State LA in the Journalism program, part of the Television, Film, and Media department.

Tool Types

Citation generators (found in library catalogs, databases, google, etc.) can give you a head-start in creating citations for your project. Generators allow you to quickly create a reference for the item that you are looking at in a search system. Below are three examples of commonly used search systems OneSearch, EBSCO Databases, and Google Scholar.

*Note, most generators include the most common citation styles, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago. If you need help with other styles, such as ACS or ASA, consider using the resources listed on the tabs to the left or a Citation Manager discussed later on this page.

Citation Managers are apps that allow you to save and organize your references for later and even plug citations directly into your word processor. Below are three commonly used managers to consider using, RefWorks, Zotero, and Mendeley.  

For either generators or managers, it's a good idea to gather citations as you go whenever you find a source you might use later. If you need the citation for a source you already have, use OneSearch or Google Scholar to search for the title of the item and to use the citation generator.

Remember, all citation tools not always format citations perfectly, and you must proofread for accuracy. Always consult a style manual to be sure everything is correct. 

Citation Generators

Library OneSearch:

When viewing an item, the first option in the top menu, above or below the title, the item title is "Citation" with the quotation mark symbol above it. Click Citation and choose the citation style you need. 

OneSearch record with red arrow to the citation tool

EBSCO Databases:

When viewing an item, look to the right-hand vertical menu for the "Cite" tool with a gold paper icon. Click Cite and choose the citation style you need. 

EBSCO item record with red arrow to the Cite tool


Google Scholar:

From the results list, locate the item you would like to cite. Below the item description are several tools. The second link is a quote symbol and the word "Cite." Click the Cite link and choose the appropriate citation style.

Google Scholar search ressult for a book with a red arrow pointing to the Cite tool

Citation Managers Overview

Citation Managers can save you time, keep you organized, and improve your research experience, but which one is right for you? The three citation managers recommended here have different features, and each may be better suited to different preferences and tasks.

When deciding which is best for you, consider the following:


  • Cost: All three are free. Zotero and Mendeley have costs for extra data storage or certain features.
  • Linking to full-text: Mendeley does not offer this feature.
  • Sharing: RefWorks and Mendeley allow sharing with other system users. Zotero allows sharing with anyone.
  • Word processors: All three work with Word. Mendeley does not work with Google Docs.
  • Web App v. Download: RefWorks is a web app only, and Zotero includes a desktop application.

*Note: If you don’t see your citation style available in a citation manager, contact your librarian for help adding styles or choosing an alternative application.

Citation Managers


  • Free for students
  • Supported by Cal State LA
  • Access online, no downloads
  • Word and Google Docs compatible
  • Share with collaborators
  • Link and annotate PDFs
  • No storage limit

Help and Trouble Shooting


  • Free and open source, cost for extra storage
  • Browser plug-in for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
  • Standalone program that works with Windows, Mac, or Linux systems
  • Word and Google Docs compatible
  • Share with collaborators
  • Link and annotate PDFs
  • 300 MG storage with free version

Help and Trouble Shooting


  • Free and open source, cost for some premium features
  • Online and downloadable options
  • Word and Google Docs compatible
  • Share with collaborators
  • Citations only- cannot link or annotate PDFs
  • 2 GB storage with free version

Help and Trouble Shooting

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300