Written by Patricia Sipes
While your paper is important, your bibliography can sometimes be even more important. Many people will judge your paper before ever reading it by what is in your bibliography or works cited/referenced. People want to know that you did the work, that you scoured the globe for the best resources, that what you are basing your theories on are, in fact, hard grounded, scholarly and acceptable sources and theories in their own right.
In some capacity, you already know that. You know the person that pads their works cited and referenced lists thinking no one is going to actually check whether there are citations in the paper that back up the claim that your works cited page makes. Many of these people get away with it too...except, it is a little different in the published world. People check. People will call you out if you have a source on your works cited page that you have not, in fact, used--cited--in your paper. While nowhere near as reprehensible as plagiarism, it is still a form of academic dishonesty, and can thus get you into a great deal of trouble.
I will admit I use them. I have no problem with them. I think they are a wonderful product of technology; however, most of them end up doing things wrong. Consistently. Especially the free ones out there. If you are going to use one, use it carefully. Make sure that the citation is correct and full under the latest guidelines. This means you are going to have to know how to cite any ways, so get a good guide to doing so. There are a few online that cover just about any source you could use from generic books to interviews to paintings to marginalia. If you want to make your life even easier, write the citation down in its complete form when you first start using the material and store them. Then it is just a copy and paste procedure.