Earlier this month, based on comments from students and teachers, I conducted a test of how accurately free citation-making tools rendered CMS and MLA formatting.

Using Diana Hacker’s Resource and Documentation Online web site as a guide to proper format, I compared Hacker’s sample citations with the ones the citation-making tools created when I input the information for three types of sources: a book with one author, a web site with no specific author for the web page content, and an article from a database.

The test results? Although Citation Machine and Source Aid claim to format citations in CMS/Chicago, neither do it very well. You’ll see the errors in red when you view the test results. Green indicates items that are not necessarily wrong, but that may be redundant or unnecessary. The bottom line? For CMS, consult pages 130-158 of Jules R. Benjamin’s A Student’s Guide to History instead (the book you used in FIRC as a freshman).

For MLA, NoodleBib Express was more accurate than the other two (in fact, 100% accurate for the three samples tested). A tip when using this tool to cite an article in a database – when given the choice to enter the database information manually, DO enter it manually instead of using the subscription database wizard.

Advertisements