Writing and referencing tools

Writing is an essential activity for most university students. Which writing tool you choose will depend on a range of factors including:

  • individual or group work — some tools incorporate collaborative functionality, while some are better for individual work
  • basic or advanced functions — if you are writing a complex or technical document you may require advanced word processing functionality
  • availability of training — the availability of in-person training and online help varies between writing tools.

Written assessments will often require you to reference appropriately. Referencing can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. Referencing software can make referencing easier.

Writing tools

Tool Useful features or limitations In-person training Online tutorial Cost
Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is the standard word processing software used in many workplaces and is available for your desktop, or via mobile app or online. Microsoft Word offers basic and advanced word processing functionality. UQ students can access a free version of Office 365 (including Microsoft Word).

Note: OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, allows you to work backup your documents and work collaboratively with others. OneDrive is not included as part of UQ’s Office 365 package. We recommend you get a free personal Microsoft Account to get OneDrive


Office 365: Word Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning, 2h36m)

Word 2016: Creating Long Documents (LinkedIn Learning, 2h17m)


Free for UQ staff & students

Google Docs

Google Docs is web-based word processing software that you need a Google Account to use. To access Google Slides without an internet connection you need to use the Google Chrome browser and install Google Docs offline Chrome extension. Google Docs may not be ideal for longer documents (i.e. theses) but is an ideal collaborative writing tool for shorter assignments.


Google Docs Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning, 1h36m)

Google Docs: Formatting in Depth (LinkedIn Learning 33m33s)



Writer (LibreOffice) Writer, via LibreOffice, is a free, open-access word processing tool. It offers much of the same functionality as Microsoft Word, including compatible file formats. Writer does not allow co-authoring of documents, so should not be adopted if you need collaborative software. No Limited online support. See Writer Guide: Version 6.0.

Open source


Overleaf is a web-based collaborative writing tool and LaTeX editor. Overleaf is ideal for students who need to include mathematical formulas. Free Overleaf Professional accounts are available to all University of Queensland students and staff.


A short video introduction to Overleaf (YouTube, 2m53s)


Free for UQ staff & students

Referencing software

Tool Useful features and limitations In-person training Online training Cost

EndNote is one of the most popular referencing tools you can install on your computer or use online. When you install the EndNote program, the Cite While You Write add-in will be inserted into your word processing software. This add-in allows you to insert citations into your document, providing you use Microsoft Word or LibreOffice. Guide to Using EndNote.


EndNote Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning, 1h23m)


Free for UQ staff & students
Mendeley Mendeley is a referencing tool you can install on your computer and use online. In addition to traditional citation support, Mendeley allows you to build a research profile and connect with other researchers. No

Getting started with Mendeley (YouTube, 5m37s)


Zotero Zotero is a referencing tool you can install on your computer and use online. Zotero is unique in that it offers a web browser add-on which can create automatic citations from a webpage. Zotero is run by a not-for-profit. No

Getting Started with Zotero (YouTube, 4m22s)


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 Free tools are completely free to use with all features.

 Freeware tools include basic functionality for free. Additional features may need to be paid for.

 Open source tools are developed in a collaborative manner and can be used, modified or shared openly. This software can be used for free and often includes a lot of support documentation.

 Paid tools can only be used after purchasing, and agreeing to, a product licence.