Free & best reference management software to tracking references, citation tool & auto generate reference for Ms Word [2019]

References are integral part of well researched document. Without proper reference in any document (specially scientific manuscript) is incomplete. Even after knowing importance of referencing, many people hate the overall process of referencing as it is tedious, boring and time consuming. Putting reference in Scientific Manuscript or other document created in MS Word is a night mare. Sorry, let me correct it, “Putting reference in Scientific Manuscript or other document created in MS Word is a night mare to only those don’t use reference management software”. But it you are those who have similar night mare, then you have come at the right place. Here you will learn how to automate complete process of referencing using free reference management software.

Process of referencing starts with importing fields like title, author, journal/site and many other things. Then comes referring at appropriate place in your document. Most of the times, before making final document we have to change/modify/delete text and associated reference. In such case, managing reference numbering etc becomes even more cumbersome, time consuming and boring task if not automated. And finally coming to making list of reference or bibliography which again is boring if done manually. If all the process are done manually then becomes nightmare.

It is seen that average researcher spend up to 70-100 hours of time putting, updating and modifying references in typical journal paper. 
For thesis or dissertation this time generally adds up to 5-6 days also. This time could be greatly reduced to around 30-45 min 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.

Reference software / Reference Manager

Ms Word has some in-build feature to import, manage and make bibliography which makes some of the task in entire process of inserting references easy. But this is just the half way. There is lot of dedicated reference manager like Refworks, Endnore, Citavi, Zotero etc. available making the overall process of importing, searching in reference, referring and making bibliography easy. Some of the are free while other are paid. Features and ease offer by these software also vary.

So which one to use and which one offer the best features and are most user friendly among the free reference manager?

After making lot of research and comparing various reference managers I finally narrowed down to Mendeley and have been using since then and never changed 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 sciencedirect,  scopus, google scholar, elsevier etc.

Import reference automatically

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. 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. 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.

Tips of writing and formatting Scientific Manuscript in Ms Word

1 )  LaTeX like heading in Ms Word: Autoformat text in just 1 click using styles feature of Ms Word 2007/2010/2013/2016/2017.

2.)  Automatic numbering of Figure | Table | Equation with auto update feature on adding/deleting new Figure | Table | Equation with just 1 click

3.) 3 different ways to type equation in MS WordComplete guide in shortcut for writing|typing equation in Ms Word. and Writing equation in Ms Word like LaTeX | A short introduction)

       a) Greek symbolsShortcut for typing greek symbols in like LaTeX in Ms Word (Complete Guide)

          b) Subscript and super script: For more details please click on this link -> Shortcut for typing subscript and superscript in Equation similar to LaTeX in Ms Word (Complete Guide)

        c) Accents in word:  For more details please click on this link -> Shortcut for typing accents like bar, vector, hat etc in Equation – Ms Word (Complete Guide)

d) Complete guide smart way of typing equation in Ms Word

4.) Three different ways to type chemical equation and shortcut for arrows (equilibrium, reversible, gas liberation, precipitation, etc), typing text above arrow, typing text below arrows, shortcut for writing chemical compounds etc. 

5.) Multilevel list in Ms Word and numbering of heading and subheadings

6) Make table of content in Ms Word with just one click

Overall report/paper writing similar to LaTeX (in terms of easy, fast and simple) see Automated formatting in Ms Word document for Journals, Papers, Magazine etc

Most general purpose useful shortcut of Ms Word that every one should know to automate most of the task 

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