How To Organize Your Sources

If your endeavors include writing a term paper or preparing a presentation, you might want to consider some software tools for organizing your materials. All applications listed below are free and open-source projects that work cross-platform, which means that they run equally well on Windows, Apple, or Linux computers.

Reference Management Software:

Reference or citation management software is useful to organize all your literature and cite correctly in your word processor of choice.


zotero is a free, open-source research tool that is cross-platform (Linux, Mac, Windows). It consists of two parts: 1. a plug-in for the Firefox web browser; 2. a plug-in for your word processor (OpenOffice/LibreOffice or MS Office)

With zotero, you can collect information (books, journal articles, newspaper articles, reports, snapshots of websites etc.), do full-text search in all your stored data, sort information (building collections in folders, by adding tags, sorting by author, date added, or other criteria), add citations in your term paper, and create a bibliography at the end. The official website has a few good videos that demonstrate how to use zotero.

The new UBL catalog now works with zotero, meaning that you can comfortably save items from your search results as zotero items.

Mind Map Software:

You would like to start your project, but your initial ideas are still a big mess? Why not create a visual map of your project ideas, also known as a mind map? If you are not the type of person who is into sketching their ideas with a pen on a sheet of paper, this kind of tool might be for you.

XMind is a free, open-source mind map program that is cross-platform (Linux, Mac, Windows).

Back up your data:

Please remember to always back up your data, especially if you work on a longer text, such as a paper or a thesis. If you are not sure what backup software to use, there is a handy table on Wikipedia’s overview page on the subject.