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Using Styles for Academic Papers, & Zotero for Research

January 1, 2008

Writing essays, papers, dissertations and other academic pieces is (or should be) radically changed by two tools:

  1. the Styles tool in word-processing;
  2. Zotero, the Firefox researching tool.

Teachers who have your students research and write, take note: your students need to learn how to use these tools, consequently so do you;-> There’s an article on the Next Generation of Bibliographic Manager in the latest issue of Innovate, a journal of online education. You can register for free and get an email notifying you whenever a new issue and the related podcasts are available. I recommend it, especially if you plan on getting further education yourself. (Most of the links to tutorials below come from the article on the bibliographic manager, Zotero.)

The Styles Tool

The name of this tool confused me for a long time and I initially avoided it. Luckily, one of my students took the time to explain it to me, and I immediately set out to lean how to use it because I could see how time-saving it would be. Here is a brief explanation of what Styles is and why it’s so useful: Although this demo is based on MSWord, a version of Styles can be found on the free office software, NeoOffice, and on the Mac iWorks word-processor, Pages.

Just the automatically generated and clickable updating of a Table of Contents is worth the time it takes to learn how to use Styles. Not to mention the fact that it is simply part of a professional writer’s skillset.

Managing Research and Creating a Bibliography

You can get a sense of why Zotero is so important and useful by checking out this Zotero Quick Start Guide, especially the two brief videos.

While I recommend getting students using Zotero ASAP, some easier bibliographic tools, without the research component, are the following:


So get ready for writing your own academic pieces and helping your students write theirs by learning about these tools and practising using them.

Cross published at

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