Remember when writing essays, articles and academic papers meant last-minute chasing round the desk, the library and the kitchen drawer for that vital reference you quoted at least three times? Bad temper, tears, kicked cats – all that has gone. Or it should have gone. These days, you can even hire someone to do all your citations for you at a very reasonable number of cents or dollars per page.
NoodleBibs Express is one of the best free sources of help for occasional references but you can also sign up to their main service for under a dollar a month. EasyBib and BibMe are also useful for pre-degree-level work.
For more advanced academic work, most researchers will be gratefully aware that EBSCO now permits automatic export of citations – so all you have to do is remember to check the box to spare yourself hours of wondering which ‘Smith’ published that most helpful statistic on which you based your best paragraph. You can also use free tools such as CiteULike, Zotero, KnightCite, or Citation Builder. Of these, Zotero is particularly useful for Firefox users as it sits in the browser.
More commercial and sophisticated products such as RefWorks and EndNote do exist although, if you are interested in lazy ways to get your bibliography done, you probably don’t need these. As tools they are solid, but for most people brought up in an era of Web2.0 tools that make bookmarking, tagging and electronic ‘sticky notes’ part of their lives, they are perhpas best used only if provided as part of a ‘free’ university library package.