Cited: An Accessible Citation App

A student came to me and asked for help doing source citations for one of her college classes. 

Now, I was raised in the “use the card catalogue, hand-copy the source information and make sure to include the commas and underline stuff” era.  And yes, I had to copy formatting from examples in what I remember as (but probably really wasn’t) a huge binder.

Well, as they say, there’s now an app for that…Cited is a free app available in the App Store on iOS devices. It works very well with voiceover and is very easy to navigate.

Main Screen Layout

Screenshot of Main Screen in Cited App

Using Cited is fairly straightforward.  As soon as the app is opened, you are placed on a title page, much like this one.

As is the case with the majority of apps that are free, there is an advertisement banner running along the top between the heading and the rest of the content.  Since the add is variable, it can take anywhere between one to five swipes to get beyond it.

After passing the advertisement banner, you must choose the format type you wish to cite.  The list of three options are MLA, APA, and Chicago.

Once you have doubled-tapped on the appropriate choice, if you continue to swipe forward, you will see the various source types available.  I am not going to list them here since they are easily accessed in the app itself.  

Once you have chosen a source type, you will move to the next screen. If you move beyond the list of source types, you will come to a list of two tabs at the bottom of the screen.  The tab you are placed in is called the citation tab and contains the information we’ve discussed thus far.  

The second tab is the reference tab, which contains other reference formats for MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.  For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the citation tab.   

Create Screen LayoutScreenshot of the create screen in the Cited App

Once you’ve chosen your format and source type, you will move into the “create” screen. This screen contains all of the fields needed for you to properly cite the source such as author, article title, and other information. Regardless of the source type, the first field you see will be the “research paper” field. You may type in this field or leave it blank. The text in this field will show up as the subject line if you choose to email this citation to yourself or someone else.

In this example, I’ve chosen to cite an MLA scholarly print journal.  The fields listed on the screen in order are:

  • Authors
  • Article
  • Journal
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Year
  • Pages

Filling in these text fields is pretty self explanatory. However, there is one thing to keep in mind if you are using VoiceOver. Every time you finish in a text field, you MUST click the “done” button in the bottom right of the screen to dismiss the onscreen keyboard. If you simply finger drag to the next field, the VoiceOver cursor has a tendency to misreport where it is and you will end up not having access to the text fields that lie beneath the onscreen keyboard. Once you double tap the “done” button, the keyboard will disappear and the VoiceOver cursor will always, no matter which field you just completed, return to the edit box in the center of the screen, whatever that field may be. Of course, this means Screenshot of the create screen in the Cited App with text in all fieldsyou will have to be very careful that you complete all fields in the app, however, it is a relatively minor idiosyncrasy and just being aware of it can save a lot of time.

Once you’ve filled in all of the fields, you can either flick left until you get to the top of the screen again or finger drag until you hear “ic create white”, which is to the right of the “create” heading. Yes, that is rather unfortunate labeling of the button, but you can always rename it by double-tapping with two fingers and holding on the second tap. You can then rename the button whatever you want.

Screenshot of the Preview screen of the Cited App, includeing a compleate source citationPreview Screen Layout

Once you’ve activated this button, you will be brought to a sort of preview area where you can change the text size and type of the source citation Honestly, it is most beneficial to wait to do this until you paste it into your project (that will come later.

If you wish to check your citation, simply swipe forward until you are in the preview textbox and navigate by the element of your choice. You will see that the citation is correctly punctuated with parentheses and other markings in the correct places. When you are satisfied with your citation, there is a button on the upper left of the screen called “organize”. Once you double-tap that button, you will be presented with the option to print, email, or new cite. I always tell students to email the citation to themselves so they can copy and paste it into their paper as needed.

Email Screen Layout

Once you’ve chosen to email the citation, you must double-tap in the “to” field so that the “add contact” option shows up. You will not be able to type a contact and have that contact autocomplete, so if you don’t have the email memorized, you may want to simply add the contact.Note that if you have filled in the field titled “research paper”, that is the subject of the email you are sending. Once you double-tap on “send” in the upper right of the screen, your citation is on its way!

Conclusions and Evaluation

For a free app, it’s great how well VoiceOver works without getting “lost” in the add banners. That is certainly a point in the app’s favor, as is the easy to navigate layout.

The only real bug is the tendency for the VoiceOver cursor to automatically go to the middle of the screen when entering a source citation. This can be very annoying, but is easy to work around.

One accessibility suggestion is to add a “copy text” option to the “print” and “email” options as a way of sharing the citation. This would allow the citation to be pasted in a note, pages document, or other location so it can be grouped with citations that are going to be added to the same paper.

Overall, this is an excellent app for students who rely on VoiceOver to cite sources independently and be secure in the knowledge that all formatting is correct.

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