Now where were these tools during my senior thesis? I mean, come on…I still was working with 3×5 note cards.

In all honesty, if faced with another paper of that magnitude, considering how well that particular method of note taking was drilled into me–I’d probably still be out buying packs of those lined cards. It does tend to help one just “lay out the paper” very nicely once the research has been completed.

But these new tools, which automatically format your references into the correct style for the paper you are writing, sound fabulous! BibMe describes itself as the quickest way to build a bibliography online–pulling from information that you enter or that you search for in their database. (Also looks like a sneaky way to do a little more searching for relevant information on your topic–who else has cited it…) It offers MLA (my default), APA, and Chicago style. There is even a citation guide for in-text citations, which has always seemed so much more practical to me than footnotes. I’ve used both and I still would rather juts put it at the end of the sentence than have to hop up and down to the bottom of the page.

EasyBib is similar, but doesn’t offer Chicago Style. It also has a free basic version but has a price tag for the “Pro” version. Considering “Pro” is only 7.99 a year (as of 6/11/07 anywho) it doesn’t seem dreadfully cost prohibitive for someone who wants citation/footnote assistance. Still it doesn’t seem to have any other bells and whistles that justify the cost. Perhaps I’m missing something that they’d like to point out?

Finally, Son of Citation Machine offers simplistic formatting for not too difficult sources. I tested a couple in MLA–since I could probably format that in my sleep–and everything was pretty straightforward fill in the blank. It appears to be a one to one ratio though–one source, one citation and wasn’t pointing me to creating a list, so it’s probably something I’d suggest only for easy beginners checking their 3×5 cards against a resource.

My only concern with these tools is that we’ll all get lazy and forget how to format for ourselves. That was one of those time-tested things that everyone seemed to have to get through during my junior year of high school. Everyone had notecards and heaven help you if you missed a period or an end quotation mark. But as we’ve all forgotten how to spell without spellcheck– will this really be any different.

Thanks to David Rothman for pointing BibMe out!