Category Archives: Computer Tips

Citation Sanity Savers

As promised in yesterday’s blog , “Beating the Bluebook Blues,” today we’ll be sharing some tips on how to keep track of all your citations and some Bluebooking shortcuts.

When you’re writing a paper or doing a research project or assignment, it can be difficult to keep track of all the resources you may want to cite.
Have you ever:

  • Realized you read the exact thing you needed several days ago, but then can’t find it again?
  • Gotten to the end of writing a paper and remember you still have to do a works cited/bibliography?
  • Wish there was a way to have all your research neatly organized?
  • Wished for help with putting citations into Bluebook format?

Then a citation management program can help! We’ve blogged about citation management before , but it bears repeating.
There are many citation management programs available, but the three biggies are:

  • Endnote: a software package you purchase and install onto your computer;
  • Zotero: a free web-based, plug-in for your Firefox browser;
  • RefWorks: a web-based program that allows you to create and share databases.

With any of these citation managers, if you come across a book, article, website, or other resource you might want to cite later, keeping it for future reference is (in most cases) as easy as a click of the mouse.

EndNote is a little pricey, and we’re big fans of free stuff here at the Law Library, so let’s compare RefWork and Zotero. Both of these programs have add-ons that you can install in a word processor, allowing you cite while you write, and both offer some assistance putting citations into Bluebook format!


RefWorks Zotero
What is it? RefWorks is a web-based application.Citations are saved online in the user’s RefWorks account. You can also back-up your work by saving to your computer. Zotero is a plug-in for the Firefox browser.Citations are saved both online (to the Zotero server) and to the user’s device (synched
How are citations organized? Folders Tagging
Can I share my research? Yes, you can share a folder or your entire database of researchby allowing permission, then emailing a URL to recipients. Yes, by creating or joining a research group.
How do I get it? Users set up an account (free, through ASU Libraries)RefWorks is supported by ASU Libraries, and as an ASU student, faculty or staff, you can create an account for free. Go to and click on “Download” (free)
Does it do Bluebook? Yes, RefWorks will export citations into Bluebook format.Always double check your citations! Yes (requires separate download). Bluebook format is still under development.Always double check your citations!
More info See our previous blog about RefWorksand the ASU Libraries Guide to RefWorks The Zotero Support site has lots of info:

(For a much more detailed comparison, see this chart from the University of Wisconsin Libraries. )

What about using Westlaw/Lexis?
In either program you can manually enter citations from anywhere, including Westlaw and Lexis (unfortunately no citation manager is one-click-compatible with them). However, RefWorks is compatible with LexisNexis Academic.
But be sure to check out these fabulous guides from Boston University for more info:

Some good words of advice from the Law Library at Duke:

“In conclusion, there’s really no substitute for mastering at least the basic Bluebook citation rules on your own. Citation management software and browser add-ons can provide much-needed assistance to beginners, but only time and practice with the Bluebook would help you spot any inaccuracies or system limitations.”

Don’t forget, if you need help, you can always Ask a Librarian!


New! Legal Apps Research Guide

If you’re a Smartphone or tablet computer user, you know there’s an app for just about everything!

Here at the Law Library, we may have a lot of books, but we love technology, too! So, we put together a list of some of the apps we think are useful to the legal community in our new Legal Apps Research Guide.

There are lots more legal apps available out there, so have fun exploring! 

And here’s one of our favorite tricks: add your favorite websites to your Smartphone or tablet computer home screen so you can access them by touching an icon – just like an app! Find your favorite website (such as the Law Library’s mobile site) with your web browser, bookmark it, then add a shortcut to your home screen for one-touch access.

Get Organized Over Spring Break!

If you’re lucky, Spring Break means lounging on a pristine sandy beach, sipping a fruity drink from a coconut. If you’re a law student, Spring Break probably means that you’ll be outlining and gearing up for exams. While we can’t transport you to a tropical locale, we can show you few tools that might help with your studies.

First a brief explanation on a theory called Getting Things Done (GTD). The theory basically says that you’re not at your most productive when you’re overwhelmed by a million things floating around in your head. GTD inspired the popular site Lifehacker. For more information on the theory visit:

GTD programs built around this theory, aim to give you a place in The Cloud to “brain dump,” organize your thoughts, and break them into manageable chunks. So, here are some ways you can get your head into The Cloud! 

  Dropbox Tired of emailing files to yourself? Check out Dropbox, which lets you store documents in The Cloud and access them from any deviceWatch this short Dropbox In Plain English tutorial for more information.
 Google Docs Tired of emailing files back and forth between yourself and your study group? Check out Google Docs. A document is stored in The Cloud, and everyone you share it with can collaborate on it together. You can work on it synchronously or not. You can add comments so you can come back and resolve issues later, or use the chat function for side discussions. This Google Docs In Plain English tutorial will tell you more.
 Evernote If you have a lot of information to keep track of and synthesize, Evernote can be a big help. You can bookmark websites, add photos and voice notes, and upload documents. You can use EverNote online, or install on your computer, phone or other device. You can share (email) notes to friends.Here’s an example of a folder with study aids for Bankruptcy Law:
 ToodleDo ToodleDo is great if you have a lot of tasks to complete and/or need help prioritizing and managing your time. You can set reminders, sync with calendar programs, and send emails to your ToodleDo list. You can estimate how much time tasks will take, then when you have a bit of free time, let ToodleDo know how much time you have, and it will tell you what tasks you should focus on.Our Acquisitions/Serials Librarian Kerry Skinner is an avid ToodleDo user and shares this advice: ToodleDo has a bit of a learning curve, so to really use it as a GTD tool, invest some time upfront learning about the features and thinking about how to organize it best for yourself, since it’s a manifestation of your individual brain.You can watch a thorough (27 min) tutorial here

Here’s what a simple ToodleDo list looks like:

There are lots of productivity tools out there, and the trick is to find the right one for you. Check out Pricata’s guide to choosing GTD software if you’d like to learn more.

Hat-tip to Kerry Skinner and Tara Mospan for their assistance!

Citation Management – RefWorks

If you’ve ever researched a topic online, you know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with all the information out there. There’s even a term for this condition: information overload.

If you’re plagued by information overload, a citation management program may be just the cure you need. A citation management program (a.k.a. reference managment program; a.k.a. bibliographic managment program) is a tool that allows you to create a personal database of citations, so all those fabulous resources you come across while researching will be in one place, organized however you like, and easily searchable.

There are lots of these programs available, but the three biggies are EndNote, RefWorks and Zotero. Havard Libraries has put together a handy comparison of the three programs’ features, but here’s the quick run-down:

  • Endnote: a software package you purchase and download onto your computer;
  • Zotero: a free web-based, open-source extension that works through your Firefox browser;
  • RefWorks: a  web-based program that allows you to create and share databases. RefWorks is supported by ASU Libraries, and as an ASU student, faculty or staff, you can create an account.

RefWorks will allow you to import and export directly from research databases.  That means if you come across a book, article, case or other resource, you can usually bookmark it in RefWorks with a simple click or two. [For a full list of ASU databases that work with RefWorks, click here].

You can also import citations from Google Scholar, as well as manually enter citations so that all your research is bookmarked in one place.

Best of all, when you’re writing a paper or putting together a bibliography, RefWorks will export your citations in the citation style of your choice…including Bluebook! [Word to the wise, though, always double-check citations for accuracy.] You can dowload formatted citations from RefWorks, or install a plug-in called Write-n-Cite that works with Microsoft Word to insert citations directly into your document.

A little time learning RefWorks over Spring Break might help you tackle the rest of the semester. To learn the RefWorks basics, check out the ASU Libraries RefWorks info page , then set up your account through the ASU authentication page,

You can also watch a series of short video tutorials for RefWorks Classic  and RefWorks 2.0 online, or sign up for a webinar to dig a little deeper into this tool’s possibilities.

In Praise of Podcasts

Ever tried listening to audio podcasts? Even if you don’t consider yourself an auditory learner, you may develop an affinity for them. They are a great way to learn or catch up on news while you work, drive, exercise, or maybe even while you sleep. It’s easy to listen online or to download them to a portable media player, and you can subscribe to podcast channels using RSS feeds so you never miss a new episode.

Here are just a few of the law/legal podcasts available online:


You can find lots on iTunes as well. Just search the term “law” or “legal” in the Podcasts section of iTunes or iTunesU . Here are a few we found:

Happy listening!