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reference management

References are an integral part of well-researched document. However, inserting reference in a manuscript created in MS Word can be a nightmare. If you are those who have similar nightmare, then you have come at the right place. Here you will learn how to automate complete process of referencing using free reference management software.

We can divide process of referencing into following minor tasks

  1. Importing fields like title, author, journal/site and many other things.
  2. Then referring them at an appropriate place in the document.
  3. Creating bibliography

As per the study, average researcher spend up to 7-10 hours of time inserting, updating and changing references in journal paper. For thesis or dissertation this time adds up to 2-3 days.

This time could be greatly reduced to less than an hour if done smartly. 

This is a place where, reference manager or reference management software comes into picture. In this blog you will know how to automate complete process of referencing right from importing reference fields into Ms Word to making bibliography.

Why use reference manager over Ms Word built-in feature?

Ms Word has some build-in feature to import, manage and make bibliography which makes some of the adding reference little easy. But this is just the half way. However, a dedicated reference manager like Refworks, Mendeley, Endnore, Citavi, Zotero, Mendeley etc. takes automation to the next level. Some of them are free too.

So which one is the best reference manager?

After a lot of research & comparing various reference managers I finally narrowed down to Mendeley and have been using since then and never looked at any other reference manager.

Mendeley: Best free reference software that automates every step of referencing and citation

Mendeley is free and one of the referencing manager that helps you organize research, collaborate online and discover new research. One can sign up for a Mendeley account online and install the Mendeley Desktop Tool in your computer for free. Mendeley also have a plugin for browsers like Chrome etc, to import references from websites like science direct, Scopus, google scholar, Elsevier, etc.

Import reference automatically

Importing from file: You can import papers into Mendeley library from your hard drive by simply dragging and dropping files. After adding files, Mendeley will automatically extract relevant fields like paper title, authors, journal name, volume number, issue etc from paper. You just can sit and relax while Mendeley does all this laborious task automatically.

1-click import from web: You can also import reference list from other reference managers or by searching various web databases for papers through Mendeley Literature Search or simply from your browser. Mendeley desktop will display a PDF icon next to the paper if the full text is available. You can sync your libraries to the cloud to access them anywhere.

Other reference managers: You can also import reference into Mendeley from BibTeX, XML, RIS and Zotero

Search within reference text

With so many references to write text from, many times you write something but while referring want to confirm the exact source of information. Mendeley has a feature that by pressing “Ctrl”+m, inside Ms Word, pop-up will open where you can search for paper title, author, journal name etc and Mendeley will automatically populate reference for you to select. However when you require to search specific text inside document available locally then again Mendeley Desktop can come to rescue. It provides a centralized place where you can search text inside your references.

Cite reference inside text without even touching mouse

Citing reference in text is very simple with Mendeley. Just press “Ctrl”+m at the place where you need to refer, a pop up will open, where you can type author name, paper title, journal name or other fields of reference. Mendeley will automatically search and highlight the reference based on your input. After selecting the required reference, press enter and you are done. If your reference are numbered in text then Mendeley will take care of complete numbering. These reference numbering will be updated automatically whenever you add or delete any new reference in between. Complete process of referring could be completed without leaving keyboard. Believe me, this will saves lot of time and effort.

See Mendeley in Action

Overview of Mendeley features

Create Bibliography / References with 1 click

With Mendeley you can generate references and bibliography with just one click. Be it apa citation, mla citation, IEEE or any other styles. Mendeley has lots of formats for bibliography, you name it and it will be there.


Mendeley is a versatile and complete reference manager available for free. It automates all the laborious task from importing reference to making bibliography. There are many other reference manager with similar feature but most of them are not free. The one which are free are not as smart and user friendly as Mendeley. So from the next time when you start writing some content in Ms Word that requires you to refer, give Mendeley a try. I bet you will never regret using it.

Read More »Free & best reference management software to tracking references, citation tool & auto generate reference for Ms Word [2021]

Free & best reference management software to tracking references, citation tool & auto generate reference for Ms Word [2021]

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