Citation tool as learning tool

Photo by Ellenm1, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0

In his upcoming book about the citation manager Zotero Jason Puckett describes attitudes toward such tools.  Some people might think that students will not learn about citation styles because the citation manager does all of the work for them.  Actually citation managers can provide a teachable moment.

Let me illustrate with the above illustration.  Here’s how Zotero cites this image in APA format:

Ellen. (2010). Detail of Untitled Quilt. Retrieved from

Though this example doesn’t neatly follow any example from the APA manual, I’ll suggest the following changes based on the manual’s 6th edition (specific sections mentioned in parentheses):

  • Use the photographer’s screen name, Ellenm1 , as no real name was given (7.11).
  • Capitalize only the first word of the title (7.07).
  • Add the word “Photographer” in parentheses between the name and the date (7.07).
  • Add the name and location of the museum where the item photographed is located (7.10).

As this is such an unusual example, I would need to check my judgments with the people at the APA.  All the same the tool didn’t deter me from thinking about the citation.


American Psychological Association. (2010).  Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Ellenm1. (Photographer). (2010). Detail of untitled quiltSmithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. Retrieved from

Puckett, J. (2011). Zotero: A guide for librarians, teachers and researchers. Manuscript in progress.