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– The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the accuracy and functionality of a selection of basic Android and iOS apps for mobile devices designed to generate bibliographic citations.


– A number of inexpensive or free apps were installed on several different tablets and phones. Book citations in MLA and APA format were generated and evaluated for accuracy.


– Results show that the majority of the apps tested produced unacceptably inaccurate citations, and many had limited functionality. The best of the apps tested was EasyBib.

Research limitations/implications

– There are infinite combinations of operating systems, apps, citation styles, material types and devices. Testing for this study was limited to uncomplicated apps likely to appeal to undergraduate students. It did not include more sophisticated apps for managing reference libraries. The study investigated how well several Android and iOS apps installed on mobile devices functioned to generate MLA and APA citations for print books.

Practical implications

– As the role of mobile technology in education continues to grow, librarians need to remain aware of solutions that can help students manage their research. Librarians have an opportunity to provide feedback to developers by reviewing and rating apps.


– Undergraduate students face challenges in learning to appropriately acknowledge materials they have consulted in their research and writing. Librarians can play an important role in helping students select the most appropriate tools to make citing sources easier and more accurate.


Post-print version of an article published in Reference Services Review, 44(1), pp. 48-60.

Conditional source acknowledgement statement: Final version published as: Van Ullen, M.K. & Kessler, J. (2016). Citation Apps for Mobile Devices. Reference Services Review, 44(1), 48-60.

Table 1.docx (13 kB)
Table 1. Cost, Styles and Tested Devices for Citation Apps

Table 2.docx (15 kB)
Table 2. Errors by App

Table 3.docx (13 kB)
Table 3. Errors by Category

Table 4.docx (13 kB)
Table 4. Errors by Style

Table 5.docx (13 kB)



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