If you’re a student, you’re going to love this for writing research papers! The website is Bibme.org and it takes all the hassle out of writing a bibliography because it essentially does it for you. Had this been around when I was a student, I definitely would have used it.
Before I get into how it works and what you can do with it, here’s some quick background information. BibMe actually started as a semester project involving 6 students at Carnegie Mellon University. It took them around 15 weeks during this last Spring Semester (2007) to finish the project using Ruby on Rails and AJAX. I’d say for 15 weeks worth of work, it’s not to shabby! Nice work, guys!
It’s not like the others….
I’ve tried other Bibliography builders in the past and none of them had an AutoFill mode like BibMe does. What’s AutoFill? AutoFill allows you to find a book by the title, author, or ISBN number. I searched for a book called Stylin’ with CSS and it pulled up two results. Then I was able to select which book I wanted to use as a source and it got all of the information for me so that with one click, I could add it to my bibliography.
Where does it gather the information like the author, publisher, and year published? I know for sure that they at least use Amazon, but it’s possible that they use other sources as well to gather this information. It also appears that they have a deal with Amazon to make money by suggesting further reading that relates to the source you entered into your bibliography.
While the AutoFill mode is by far the one thing that makes BibMe unique and useful, they also have a Manual entry mode if you’d rather do it yourself, or if by the off-chance they don’t have the information for your source. If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll enter in all of the book info and author names yourself, and then they’ll do all of the formatting for you (usually the most tedious part anyways!).
What’s also nice is that they have a citation guide right on the site so that you can quickly reference formatting guidelines should you need them.
Not just for books
As I mentioned above, the AutoFill feature allows you to enter in the name of a book, and then it will go find all of the information for you. What I didn’t mention though is that it’s not just for books. Besides books, you can search for a magazine, newspaper, website, journal, film, or “other.” And under the “other” category you’ll find options for an interview, radio/tv, and an encyclopedia. Essentially any source that you could possibly use is covered.
Which format do you want?
I never understood why there had to be different formats for a bibliography, but there are. Need your bib in MLA format? No problem! What about APA or Chicago? It’ll do it for you. There’s a drop-down list that allows you to choose between the three mentioned formats.
Register for BibMe
Okay, you don’t have to register to use BibMe, but you can. And what’s nice about registering is that first of all, it’s free. But more importantly, you’ll be allowed to save up to 10 bibliographies so that you can use them or reference them in the future.
While you’re adding items to the list, they appear on a “My Bibliography” page to the right of your screen so that you can see how everything looks as you add it. That’s also where they display the mentioned “further reading” from Amazon.
Once everything looks just right, you’ll have the option to save to your account, or download it to Microsoft Word.
My only complaint is that at the bottom of the downloaded bibliography, they put “Created at www.bibme.org.” Certainly you’re not going to want to turn your research paper in with that displayed at the bottom. I get that they’re trying to promote themselves, but I think it’s useful enough that others will find out about it from word-of-mouth. I don’t know any student who has enjoyed putting together a bibliography, so they’ll be sure to tell others about the huge timer saver they’ve found which is easy publicity.
If you’re a student, enjoy!