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There are a wide range of personal bibliographic software packages. In general, they are designed to assist in the following tasks:

  • manual cataloguing of bibliographic references relating to a student's or academic's personal research areas/topics;
  • automated collection and organisation of references from bibliographic databases, library catalogues, etc;
  • search and retrieval of bibliographic subsets
  • integration with word-processing software to automatically insert and format citations and bibliographies;
  • formatting of references according to particular bibliographic styles (e.g. MLA, Chicago, individual journals) and also formats for exporting to other packages and for data-sharing.

Data types

To a large degree all bibliographic packages worth mentioning will claim to perform all of these tasks. To a large degree all bibliographic packages have been designed with a primary focus on the science community (you can tell by, amongst other things, the range of science-related journals and databases for which citation styles are included). This is strange given that the humanities community is usually perceived as a community of book worms. However, the bottom line is that, whether science, social science, or humanities, bibliographic databases should have to contend with a mixture of at least the following printed formats, regardless of content:

  • monographs
  • edited works and their essays
  • journal articles
  • conference proceedings and their essays
  • theses
  • unpublished work
  • magazine and newspaper articles
  • public email messages (e.g. from discussion lists)
  • Web-based publications (Web sites and their parts; electronic journals and their articles; etc.)

Occasionally one finds a bibliographic database which can only deal with monographs, journal articles, and essays in edited works. Ignore them. They assume too much about the nature of your research.


If a bibliographic database is to be useful to a wide range of users (i.e. not just sections of the academic community such as medicine or sociology or history) then the user should be able to customize the package in certain key areas to conform the package to the user's own research area and the citation demands of the user's subject community. The following key areas are a good start:

  • adding or customising of reference types (e.g. add a type for manuscripts and other documents of the pre-print era)
  • adding or customising of fields within reference types (e.g. decide that the field 'journal abbreviation' is redundant and a field for 'published reviews' would be more useful)
  • adding of further style formats and editing of existing ones (e.g. style for Computers & Texts or style to print out all references by keyword heading, or changing the way in which it formats references in HTML)
  • customising how the software formats citations within the text and footnotes as well as in the final bibliography


When looking to use a personal bibliographic database for research within the humanities it is worth spending some time considering the range of bibliographic material with which you will work, sources from which it comes (especially the electronic sources), the range of styles in which it is cited (short citations in footnotes, full bibliography, possibly in-text citations, different journals and publications styles demanded). In addition, it is worth considering the usefulness of the following features which are often particularly relevant to humanities research:

  • Will the package easily download references from external databases or easily convert downloaded references for importing into the personal database? (look particularly for Z39.50 capability)
  • Do the record-types reflect the types of publications consulted and cited in the humanities?
  • Do the records include fields for electronic sources?
  • Is it able to handle common humanities citation styles (or can styles be easily adapted)?
  • Does it output HTML or provide an easy and cross-platform means of sharing a bibliography?

Comparative reviews

The following are useful online sites for comparative reviews of bibliographic packages (with links to demonstration copies):

A Selection of Packages

Name: Biblioscape 3.3

Platform: Window 95, 98, and NT4

Description: Biblioscape 3.3 can import references from web-based bibliographic databases and library catalogues directly into its database. Beside a powerful set of features for editing, exploring, filtering and sorting records Biblioscape allows its user to directly publish their databases on the web from a PC permanently connected to the Internet. This feature allows other users to remotely browse the collection or, if it is desired, to add or modify records - a very useful feature for scholars involved in collaborative projects. Using the 'BiblioSidekick' tool whilst word-processing, references can be dragged and dropped from a small floating window directly into documents. The pre-defined output styles offered by Biblioscape include MLA, Chicago and APA - most of those offered are for scientific journals - but it offers the tools to add more.

Availability: CG Information, 100 Rogers Road, M211, Athens, GA 30605 USA. URL: http://www.biblioscape.com/. Demonstration version available.

Price: $99 (standard, education); $149 (professional, education).

Notes: Includes reasonably powerful filter utilty for importing records. Has a reasonably full set of publication types and the possibility of including URLs. The available styles have a heavy bias towards the sciences but does include a style creator. Includes HTML output and the database can be dynamically served over the Web. Can be integrated into Word/WordPerfect and cross-references to documents can be added to references. Well worth considering.

Name: Bookends Plus 5

Platform: MacOS

Description: Bookends offers a flexible, and sophisticated means of saving, retrieving and formatting references for bibliographies or footnotes. Additionally, files referenced in the database, such as images, movie clips, text files and web pages can be displayed or opened from within the database. Bookends contains an add-in for Microsoft Word 6 and Word 98 which lets the user access and cite from the database directly from within the word processor. Chicago, MLA and APA styles are represented and also HTML output. With password-controlled access Bookends' bibliographical databases can be searched remotely through the Web. It is also possible, by means of a form, to allow users to add references to a Bookends database through the Web.

Availability: Sonny Software, 8903 Seneca Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817. URL: http://www.sonnysoftware.com/. Email: support@sonnysoftware.com

Price: $99; $69 (student).

Notes: Has no capability to directly search online databases but users can create import filters. Styles are weighted towards the sciences though new formats can be created. Unknown range of publication types but there is the possibility of entering URLs.

Name: Bookwhere2000 v.3.0

Platform: Windows

Description: BookWhere 2000 is software for multiple searching of library catalogues and bibliographic databases supporting the Z39.50 protocol. BookWhere 2000 comes with an extensive list of library catalogues and other databases categorized by country to which the user can connect. In addition, new connections can be created or connection files downloaded from the BookWhere distributor's site. BookWhere will allow the user to search by a range of fields including author, title, subject heading, and other fields as available. Complex searches can be execute by using a Boolean-like combination of fields. The full record is available for each hit retrieved and records can be exported in the following formats for later importing into a personal bibliographic database: tab-delimited, ASCII, Procite, Refer. It will also export records in MARC format for integration with a library catalogue or similar.

Availability: Bilaney Consultants Ltd, St Julians, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RX. Email: bilaney@bilaney.com. URL: http://www.bilaney.com. See also http://www.bookwhere.com/. Evaluation copy available for downloading.

Price: £175.00 (CHEST).

Name: Citation 7

Platform: Windows

Description: Citation 7 uses an index card metaphor for the entry of bibliographic references. The data types include manuscript record, legal case studies, and interview transcripts as well as the more standard types. Citation 7 comes with over 1,000 citation styles and a custom format creator which is easy to use. There is also a data conversion module for importing records from external databases. Citation 7 can be integrated into the latest versions of both Word and WordPerfect. Datafiles are stored as text files and Citation 7 also comes with a spell-check utility. Compatible with Bookwhere 2000 for direct searching of Z39.50-based databases.

Availability: Michael Quinion Associates, 18 Pittville Close, Thornbury, Bristol BS35 1SE. Email: sales@quinion.com. URL: http://quinion.com/citation7/. Demonstration version available. See also http://www.oberon-res.com/.

Price: £85.00 (or £61.00 if downloaded from the Web without printed manuals).

Notes: Does not directly download from external databases. Comes with an import filter for BIDS and a tool for creating new conversion formats (from pretty highly structured data). Has a full set of publication types though records cannot be customised. Fields included for Web, telnet, gopher, and electronic journal sources. Outputs basic HTML and demo version includes MLA and MHRA styles. Worth considering.

Name: EndNote 3.0.1

Platform: Windows, Mac

Description: Integrates three key bibliographical tasks within the one package: the searching of remote bibliographical databases on the Internet; the organisation of references in a database, and the creation of bibliographies. EndNote can be fully integrated with Word and other Windows word-processing software. Documents can be scanned and shorthand citations expanded and complete bibliographies created. EndNote libraries created on different platforms are compatible with each other.

Availability: Cherwell Scientific Publishing Ltd, The Magdalen Centre, Oxford Science Park, Oxford, OX4 4GA. Email: order@cherwell.com. URL: http://www.cherwell.com/. Extensive information also from http://www.niles.com/. Demonstration version available.

Price: £199

Notes: Uses Z39.50 to search and retrieve records from online library catalogues and databases directly. Has a fairly full range of publication types with field for URL and customisable fields. Limited range of humanities styles delivered with product but excellent support provided via the publisher's Web site and an email discussion forum. Will output in HTML and will work with Reference Web Poster for sharing databases over the Web.

Name: Library Master

Platform: DOS (Win95 version under development)

Description: Library Master, originally developed by a theology academic, has certain features which may be attractive to humanities users: it can handle up to 50 different user-defined record types, with 25 pre-set suggestions (such as manuscript and unpublished collections), any of which can be altered by users to suit their needs; it enables the production of formatted bibliographies in many widely-used humanities styles. Databases for research notes and mailing lists can also be designed, and it will automatically format bibliographic footnotes. Some import facilities are provided. The Windows version of Library Master will incorporate web-related features such as URLs in records, HTML output, and compatibility with BookWhere 2000 for direct searching of Z39.50-compliant libraries and databases.

Availability: Balboa Software, 5845 Yonge St., Box 69539, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M2M 4K3. Email: sales@balboa-software.com. URL: http://www.balboa-software.com.

Price: $199.95; $124.95 (student).

Name: Papyrus 7.0

Platform: DOS, Mac

Description: Although a Dos package on a PC Papyrus is designed to integrate with Windows applications. The package remains popular since it is relatively inexpensive (assisted by a CHEST agreement). Like the other major bibliographic packages Papyrus allows data entry according to publication type, provides searching and sorting of records (including hierarchical keywords), imports records downloaded from external databases (and the distributor's site contains a number of freely available import filters), and formats bibliographies in a range of customizable styles apart from, and within standard word-processing software. Papyrus can also scan word-processed documents for citations.

Availability: CHEST contact (see http://www.chest.ac.uk/software/papyrus/contents.html). Otherwise: GeoMEM Consultants, 1 High Street, Blairgowrie, Perthshire PH10 6ET. Email: sales@geomem.co.uk. URL: http://www.geomem.co.uk/geomem/. See also http://www.teleport.com/~rsd/ (with free demo version) and http://www.in.umist.ac.uk/papyrus/index.html.

Price: Available through CHEST site licence deal with single licences costing £14.00 (+media and documentation). Non-CHEST single copies: £79.00.

Notes: Suffers from a DOS interface which is not always intuitive. The Mac version is still relatively recent. Cannot directly search online databases though will import records in Refer format (making it compatible with BookWhere).

Name: Procite 4

Platform: Windows, MacOS

Description: Procite, like EndNote, catalogues bibliographic information about a range of types and from a range of sources. Procite does not directly search online databases but can be used in conjunction with Bookwhere 2000. A particular strength of Procite is its searching and sorting cabilities including the ability to output bibliographic subsets and save search queries. ProCite for Windows also includes 'NetCite', which allows the user to catalogue and index Internet-based information.

Availability: Bilaney Consultants, St. Julians, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN1 0RX. Email: bilaney@bilaney.com. URL: http://www.bilaney.com. See also Research Information Systems web site at http://www.risinc.com/. Demonstration version available.

Price: £200 (CHEST); £92.50 (student).

Notes: Available with Biblio-Link II which assists in the creation of import filters for external databases. Contains a full set of publication types and URLs can be recorded. Currently comes with only 30 pre-defined styles though user can build further styles. Can output in HTML.

Name: Reference Web Poster

Platform: Windows

Description: Make available ProCite and EndNote databases on the Web. Anyone with a Web browser can access your database and search one or more databases simultaneously. Requires a PC running a Web server.

Availability: Bilaney Consultants, St. Julians, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN1 0RX. Email: bilaney@bilaney.com. URL: http://www.bilaney.com. See also Research Information Systems web site at http://www.risinc.com/.

Price: £108 (CHEST)

Notes: Example Reference Web Poster site at http://omega.bart.ucl.ac.uk/ris/risweb.isa (Michael Edwards, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL).

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HTML Author:Stuart Sutherland
This page last modified:16 November 1999

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