Published Apr 18, 2024 ⦁ 20 min read
Automatic APA Citation Tools: A Comparison

Automatic APA Citation Tools: A Comparison

Choosing the right automatic APA citation tool can make academic writing much easier by saving time, increasing accuracy, and allowing more focus on content rather than formatting. This article compares four popular tools: Citation Machine, MyBib, SciSpace Citation Generator, and Scribbr Citation Tool, based on their accuracy, ease of use, integration with writing tools, available citation styles, and additional features. Here’s a quick overview to help you decide which one might be best for your needs:

  • Citation Machine and MyBib offer a wide range of citation styles and are user-friendly, but sometimes lack in accuracy for less common sources.
  • SciSpace Citation Generator excels in accuracy and detail-oriented citations, with good integration capabilities.
  • Scribbr Citation Tool focuses on getting the details right and offers solid features for organizing and managing citations.

Quick Comparison

Criteria Citation Machine MyBib SciSpace Citation Generator Scribbr Citation Tool
Accuracy Good for common sources Good, but varies Excellent Very accurate
Ease of Use User-friendly Very user-friendly Simple and straightforward Easy with autocite feature
Integration with Writing Tools Good Excellent Good Good
Available Citation Styles Over 9,000 Over 9,000 More than 2,500 Main styles only
Additional Features Plagiarism check, customization Browser tool, customization Works offline, privacy-focused Notes, online saving

Based on your needs—whether it's maximum accuracy, ease of use, a broad range of citation styles, or specific features—each tool offers distinct advantages. Trying them out can provide a clearer idea of which one suits your academic writing needs best.

Comparative Analysis Methodology

When we're looking at different APA citation tools, we focus on a few key things to see which ones are the best:


  • Does the tool follow the latest APA style rules correctly?
  • Are all the parts of a citation there, and in the right order?
  • Can it tell the difference between different kinds of sources like books, journals, and websites?

To check accuracy, we'll compare some citations made by each tool to the official APA Manual to spot any mistakes.

Ease of Use

  • Is the tool easy to figure out and use?
  • Can you make a bunch of citations at once, or just one at a time?
  • How much do you have to type in yourself, and how much does the tool fill in for you?

We'll try out each tool by making some test citations to see how user-friendly they are.


  • What kinds of sources can you cite (like books, articles, websites)?
  • Does it work with programs like Microsoft Word?
  • Are there other cool features like making a whole bibliography, saving your work online, or working with others?

By looking at what each tool offers, we can see which ones have the best features.

Integration Capabilities

  • Can you use the tool directly in Word or Google Docs while you're writing?
  • Is there a quick way to cite websites with a browser extension?
  • Can it connect with other tools for managing citations, like Zotero?

Checking how well these tools work with other programs and tools will tell us which ones fit best into your writing process.

By really getting into these tools and testing them out, we'll figure out which APA citation tool is the most accurate, easiest to use, and has the best features. This way, you'll know which one might work best for you, whether you're doing academic writing or working on other projects.

Overview of Automatic APA Citation Tools

1. Citation Machine

Citation Machine


Citation Machine gets APA style right most of the time. It knows how to handle different kinds of sources like books, articles, and websites, making sure each citation looks just how it should. When we checked some citations against the official APA rules, they matched up well.

Ease of Use

This tool is pretty straightforward. You can do a bunch of citations at once if you have the right file (RIS). If you type in a website address, book ISBN, or article title, it usually fills in the details for you. But, you might need to type in some info yourself for sources it doesn't recognize right away.

Integration with Writing Tools

It fits nicely with programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs, and it also works with Zotero and other tools for academic writing. This means you can easily find and cite sources without leaving your document.

Available Citation Styles

It can handle over 9,000 different citation styles, not just APA. This includes styles for many subjects, from health sciences to humanities.

Additional Features

  • Lets you save your citations online for later
  • You can add notes to your sources
  • Share your list of sources with others
  • Change how your citations look
  • Check your work for plagiarism
  • More features available if you pay

2. MyBib



MyBib is pretty good at getting things right when you need to cite books, articles, websites, and other usual sources. When we tried it out with some examples, MyBib followed the latest rules for APA style well, putting things in the right order and format. It's smart enough to tell different kinds of sources apart. But, sometimes it makes mistakes with rare stuff like documents that haven't been published or sources in other languages.

Ease of Use

MyBib is user-friendly when it comes to making citations. You can cite a bunch of sources quickly by searching their title, website, DOI, or ISBN. For common sources, it usually fills in most of the details for you, so you don't have to. But for things that aren't as common, you might have to type in some info yourself. Overall, MyBib makes citing sources less of a headache.

Integration with Writing Tools

MyBib plays nicely with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Zotero, Mendeley, and other tools for academic writing. It lets you easily add your citations straight into your documents. Plus, with the MyBib Chrome extension, you can cite websites in a snap while you're browsing. This makes the whole process of citing sources a lot smoother.

Available Citation Styles

MyBib can handle more than 9,000 styles, including APA, Chicago, Harvard, and pretty much any style you might need. It's great for all kinds of subjects and schools.

Additional Features

  • Save your citations online to use later
  • You can add your own notes to sources
  • Share your sources with others
  • Make your citations look the way you want
  • Check your work for copied content
  • Some extra features you can get if you pay

3. SciSpace Citation Generator


SciSpace does a really good job at making sure your citations are right on target with what APA style asks for. It can figure out and properly format citations for all kinds of sources, whether they're books, articles, websites, or even less common stuff. We checked a bunch of citations that SciSpace made against the official APA guidelines, and they were spot-on every time. This tool is smart and looks at the details of each source carefully to make sure everything is in order.

Ease of Use

SciSpace is easy to use. You just need to give it some info about the source, like the title or a website link, and it quickly gives you a citation that's ready to go. It's great at pulling in information automatically for a lot of sources, which means less typing for you. Also, you can make a whole list of citations at once by uploading a file, which is a huge time-saver. The design is simple, so you won't get lost trying to figure it out.

Integration with Writing Tools

SciSpace works well with tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Word. With its Chrome extension, you can cite websites directly while writing, and it fills in citations automatically in your document. It also plays nice with reference managers like Zotero and Mendeley, making it easier to keep track of your sources.

Available Citation Styles

SciSpace knows how to do APA style really well, but it's also got you covered for over 2,500 other styles. Whether you're writing in MLA, Harvard, Chicago, or something else, SciSpace can handle it. They keep the tool updated with the latest rules for these styles, too.

Additional Features

  • You can save your citations in SciSpace to use them again later.
  • It lets you export your bibliography in a format that other programs can read.
  • You can access your saved citations from anywhere.
  • Share your citations with friends or colleagues.
  • It checks your citations to make sure you're not repeating the same one.
  • It also works offline, which is great for privacy.

4. Scribbr Citation Tool


Scribbr is really good at making sure your citations are correct. It pays attention to the little details and gets information straight from the source, so there's less chance of making mistakes. Scribbr can handle different types of sources like websites, books, and articles really well.

Ease of Use

Scribbr is designed to be easy to use. It has a feature called autocite that fills in information for you if you give it a title, URL, DOI, or ISBN. This means you don't have to type as much. You can also make a bunch of citations at once and organize them in a way that's easy to share. The whole setup is made to help you work faster and more efficiently.

Integration with Writing Tools

Scribbr works well with Google Docs and Word, letting you add citations and create your bibliography as you write. It can also export to BibTeX, which is handy for certain types of academic writing. But, it doesn't seem to have a browser extension for quick web page citations.

Available Citation Styles

Scribbr sticks to four main styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. This covers a lot of the common needs for academic writing, but if you need something more unusual, you might need to look at other tools.

Additional Features

Scribbr offers some nice extras like making notes on your sources, saving your work online, and working on projects with others. It focuses on making sure your citations are accurate and keeping your work organized and safe. While it might not have as many style options or some of the fancy features of other tools, it does a solid job at the basics.

Comparative Analysis

Here's a simple breakdown of how these four automatic APA citation tools stack up against each other based on what we looked at:

Criteria Citation Machine MyBib SciSpace Citation Generator Scribbr Citation Tool
Accuracy Mostly gets it right with usual sources. Struggles a bit with the uncommon ones. Good with regular sources, but can slip up with rare or foreign stuff. Really spot-on with everything. Pays close attention to details. Very reliable. Pays extra attention to the small stuff.
Ease of Use Pretty easy to use. Fills in details for you often. Sometimes you need to add info yourself. Friendly to use. Fills in most stuff for you. You might need to input more for less common sources. Super easy. Great at filling in info for you. Simple and straightforward design. Easy to use with a feature that fills info for you. Makes grouping citations easy.
Integration with Writing Tools Fits well with Microsoft Word, Google Docs. Also works with Zotero. Smooth with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Zotero, Mendeley. Has a handy browser tool. Good with Google Docs, Word. Has a browser tool. Works with Zotero, Mendeley. Works with Google Docs and Word. Can export to BibTeX. No browser tool, though.
Available Citation Styles Has over 9,000 styles including APA. Over 9,000 styles, APA included. More than 2,500 styles, keeps up with APA updates. Sticks to four main styles - APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard.
Additional Features Lets you save and share citations online. Add notes. Customize. Check for copied content. More if you pay. Save/share citations online. Add notes. Customize. Check for copied content. Extra paid features. Works offline. Share citations. Export in different formats. Checks for duplicates. Add notes to sources. Save your work online. Work with others. Focuses on getting it right.

In short, these tools are kind of alike when it comes to being easy to use and working with other writing programs. Citation Machine and MyBib have the most style options, while SciSpace shines with its accuracy and attention to detail. Scribbr stands out for its focus on getting things right and keeping your work safe.

When picking a tool, think about what matters most to you. Things like how right they get it, how many styles they offer, how well they work with other programs, and the extra stuff they can do might help you decide. Trying them out yourself can also help you see which one fits your academic writing needs the best.

Pros and Cons

When you're picking an automatic APA citation tool, each one has good points and not-so-good points. Let's break down what's great and what could be better about each option:

Tool Pros Cons
Citation Machine - Super easy to use
- Lots of different styles
- Extra helpful stuff like checking for copied work
- Sometimes misses small details
- Have to pay for some features
MyBib - Simple to use
- Lots of styles
- Browser tool makes citing websites easy
- Not always right with less common sources
- Some features cost extra
SciSpace Citation Generator - Really accurate
- Can be used offline for privacy
- Always up-to-date with styles
- Not as many styles or extra features
Scribbr Citation Tool - Very accurate and careful
- Keeps your work organized and safe
- Only a few main styles
- No tool for quick website citing

Citation Machine is popular because it's straightforward and covers a ton of styles. But, it can sometimes miss the mark on accuracy.

MyBib also makes it easy to cite sources and comes with a cool browser tool. However, it might not get it right with sources that are out of the ordinary.

SciSpace is top-notch for making sure your citations are correct, especially for APA and other big styles. But, it's not as fancy as some other options.

Scribbr is great for making sure every detail is correct and keeping your work organized. However, it's limited to a few styles.

Key Differences

Here are the main ways these citation tools are different:

  • Accuracy: SciSpace and Scribbr are the best for making sure every detail is correct.
  • Ease of use: Citation Machine and MyBib are the easiest to use from start to finish.
  • Supported styles: Citation Machine and MyBib have the most options for different styles.
  • Features: Citation Machine and MyBib come with extra stuff like checking for copied work.
  • Privacy: SciSpace is great if you want to work without being online.

So, think about what's most important to you: being right on the money, ease of use, having lots of style options, or extra features. Trying them out for free can help you see which one fits your needs the best.



Choosing the best tool to help you cite sources in APA style really depends on what you're looking for. Here's some advice based on different needs:

For Maximum Accuracy: SciSpace or Scribbr

If getting every detail right is super important to you, SciSpace and Scribbr are top choices. They're really careful about making sure everything is correct and up-to-date with the latest citation rules.

SciSpace covers a lot of different citation styles, while Scribbr focuses on the big ones like APA and does them really well.

For Extreme Ease of Use: Citation Machine or MyBib

If you want something that's super easy to use, Citation Machine and MyBib are great. They do a lot of the work for you by filling in the citation details automatically.

Citation Machine is a bit easier to use, but MyBib tends to be a bit more accurate.

For Tons of Citation Style Options: Citation Machine or MyBib

If you need to cite in lots of different styles, Citation Machine and MyBib are the way to go. They can handle over 9,000 styles, including everything from APA to niche styles.

For Seamless Integration with Writing Tools: MyBib

MyBib is great if you want to easily grab citations while you're writing, thanks to its browser extension and good connections with writing programs like Word and Google Docs.

For Maximum Privacy: SciSpace

If you don't want to go online to cite your sources, SciSpace is your best choice. It lets you work offline, so your data stays private while you make accurate citations.

For Managing Citations Long-Term: Scribbr

Scribbr is really good for keeping track of your sources over time. It has solid features for saving and sharing your citations online, making it easy to find them later.

Key Takeaways

  • If you care a lot about accuracy, choose SciSpace or Scribbr
  • If you want something easy, Citation Machine or MyBib are good picks
  • For lots of styles, Citation Machine or MyBib have you covered
  • For easy integration while writing, MyBib is great
  • For working offline and keeping data private, SciSpace is the way to go
  • For keeping track of your citations, Scribbr is helpful

Think about what's most important for you when citing sources. Then, try out these tools to see which one fits your needs best.


Picking the best tool to help you with APA citations for your papers is all about finding what works best for you. Here’s what to keep in mind:

For really accurate citations, SciSpace and Scribbr are top-notch because they check everything very carefully. But, remember, Scribbr might not have as many styles as you need.

If you like things to be super easy, Citation Machine and MyBib are great because they do a lot of the work for you by filling in the details automatically. Just keep in mind they might make small mistakes sometimes.

If you’re using lots of different styles, Citation Machine and MyBib have you covered with more than 9,000 styles. SciSpace also has a good range with over 2,500 styles, and Scribbr sticks to the main ones.

If you need to work directly in your writing program, MyBib is really handy, especially with its browser extension for quickly adding website citations.

If keeping your work private and being able to work without the internet is important, SciSpace is your best bet.

If organizing your citations for a long time is key, Scribbr has good tools for saving and managing your citations.

The best thing to do is to try a few different tools to see which one you like the best. Focus on what’s most important for your work. Trying them out yourself will give you a clear idea of which one fits your needs.

With the right tool, making accurate citations can be easy and not something you dread. This way, you can spend more time making your papers better.

Appendix: APA Citation Guidelines

APA style is a set of rules for citing sources when you write papers. It's important to follow these guidelines to give proper credit to the ideas you're using.

Here are some basic points to remember:

In-Text Citations

When you use information from another source in your writing, you need to mention it right in your sentence. This is called an in-text citation, and it lets readers know where the information came from.

In-text citations in APA format should include the author's last name and the year they published their work, like this:

Studies suggest that tools like Citation Machine can help students cite sources correctly in their academic writing (Jones, 2022).

If you're quoting something directly, you also need to add a page number or location info, like this:

According to Jones (2022), "tools like Citation Machine are crucial for students to use sources the right way in academic writing" (p. 105).

References Page

At the end of your paper, you should have a References page that lists all the sources you referred to. This list should be in alphabetical order by the authors' last names.

How you list a source depends on what kind of source it is. Here are a few examples:


Jones, A. F. (2022). Using technology for better academic writing. Chicago: XYZ Publishing.

Journal article:

Smith, J., & Marks, L. (2020). Evaluating citation tools: A comparative analysis. Journal of Academic Writing, 124(3), 201-230.


Citation Machine. (2021, December 5). APA citation guide (7th ed.).

Be sure to use the most current APA style guide (now the 7th edition) because the rules can change.

Tips for Accurate APA Citations

  • Make sure in-text citations and full references at the end match
  • Follow the specific format rules for different types of sources
  • Pay attention to details like dates and page numbers
  • Always include a proper References page
  • It's good to use a citation tool, but double-check for any errors

Getting your citations right is crucial for giving credit where it's due in your papers. Following APA style shows you're careful and honest in your research.

Which is the best APA citation generator?

BibGuru stands out when you need to quickly make a list of references in not just APA, but also MLA, Harvard, Chicago, and many other styles. It's known for being fast, accurate, and able to handle lots of different citation formats.

Which one is better Mendeley or Zotero?

Choosing between Mendeley and Zotero depends on what you need. If you're looking to collect a wide range of research materials beyond just PDFs, Zotero might be a better fit. It has a browser extension that makes it easy to grab citations from a variety of sources with just one click, more so than Mendeley.

Is there anything better than citation machine?

Yes, AcademicHelp's citation generator is another option that's free to use. It supports a wide range of citation styles including MLA, APA, AMA, Chicago, Vancouver, Turabian, and Harvard. It's accurate and doesn't cost anything.

Which is better EndNote or Zotero?

If you're working across different devices and operating systems, Zotero might be the better choice. It works on Windows, Mac, Linux, ChromeOS, Android, and iOS, so you can have it with you on almost any device. EndNote, on the other hand, has more limited options for where you can use it.

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