Using Word’s Citations Tool to Create Citations and Bibliographies

Word 2007 (Windows) and Word 2008 (Mac) contain a referencing tool which allows you to create in-text citations and bibliographies automatically. This takes a lot of the effort out of writing and formatting references. If you’re writing a long document like a Masters or PhD thesis, or a journal article, you should probably look at a dedicated referencing tool like Endnote – but for short essays and articles this tool is ideal. It’s really easy to use.
This tutorial shows you how to add references to an existing document but a top tip, which will save you a lot of time is to follow the rule "cite as you write" – in other words, don’t leave adding references to the end of the writing process, but add them as you go along. Once you’ve got the hang of the principles, it would be a good idea to create your references list before you start writing so you can just double-click as you go to add references when you need them. This is much quicker than going back over your document at the end looking for where you should add them. (No one ever seems to follow this advice – but without fail it’s the once piece of advice everyone wishes they’d followed afterwards. Maybe you’ll be the first to take the hint…)

The steps and images here are for the Mac version of Word, but the process is the same in Windows.

Any questions, or if you spot any mistakes with these instructions, please email Jonathan Baldwin:

Open the document to which you want to add references and a bibliography


This step assumes you’ve already started your document. If not, just go ahead and create a new one. You’ll add citations as you write so the steps are basically the same.
Your Word document should be a .docx file, which is the new file format for Word 2007 and 2008. If it isn’t, you’ll need to convert it (see "troubleshooting" below for more on this).
Make sure you have Word’s formatting palette open (go to View>Formatting Palette)
Click on the "Citations" button (it looks like two books)

The Citations Palette


This is the Citations palette. At the moment it’s empty but we’ll soon add a couple of references. You can probably tell how to do this: click on the + button on the bottom left. But don’t do it just yet – let’s go back to the document.

Create your first reference


Place the cursor where you want to have your first citation (reference) appear. You can see here that when I was writing this document I put rough citations in to remind me where I got the quotations from. In actual fact, this isn’t far off from how the citation should look (Berger 1972:131) so you can see that writing citations is actually pretty easy. Where Word’s Citations tool comes in handy is in tracking the references, styling them, and building a bibliography automatically.
The advice at the top of this document was to "cite as you write" – i.e. as you’re writing your essay, report or thesis you put citations in as you come to them. Don’t fall into the trap of coming back to it later – it takes time and you’re likey to miss them.
So here I’ve got my reference that I want to convert in to a proper citation

Adding the details


So put your cursor where you want your citation to appear and click the "+" button on the Citations palette. This will bring up the "Create New Source" window shown here.
There’s a lot of information to add here but don’t worry. All you need to add is the stuff with the asterisk (*) next to it. The rest of it is needed in different circumstances and unless you’re writing a Masters or PhD thesis (for which you should probably use Endnote anyway) you can safely ignore it.
Note the drop-down menu at the top of the window "Type of Source". Make sure you select the correct type here as it will affect how your bibliography looks. The main choices are Book, Book Section (i.e. a chapter in an edited book – you’ll need to add the author of the chapter and the Editor about halfway down), Article in a Journal, and Web Site. "Article in a Periodical" means a newspaper or magazine. A "journal" is a peer-reviewed academic publication.
Once you’ve entered the information, click OK. Don’t worry if you make a mistake – you can correct it later.

Looking at the resulting citation


As you can see, Word has replaced my rough citation with another that looks very similar.

Adding page numbers to citations


I want to add a page number to the citation. This needs to be done to each individual citation separately. Hover the mouse over the citation and you should see a box appear around it. Click and hold on the small triangle to get a contextual menu. Select "Edit This Citation…" and add the page number(s) you want.

The finished citation


As you can see, our citation now includes a page number.

Continue adding references


Go through your document adding references. To add a citation for something you’ve already put in the Citations palette, simply put the cursor where you want it to appear, then double-click on the appropriate title in the palette. Then add a page number if you need it as described above.
To add a new reference, just repeat the process you used to create the first one.

Insert a bibliography 1


Inserting a bibliography requires a couple of steps. First, click on the "Document Elements" tab in the ribbon at the top of the screen

Insert a bibliography 2


Select the "Bibliographies" tab, then click once on "Bibliography". This will insert a bibliography at your cursor (so make sure it’s at the end of your document!)

Checking the bibliography


As you can see, a bibliography has been added properly formatted. But what if you’ve made a mistake?
You can edit citations by hovering the mouse over them (as you did to add page numbers) and selecting "Edit this citation".
Word should update the bibliography to take these changes in to account but if not, you can force it to do it by selecting "Update Citations and Bibliography".

Choose the correct referencing style


At the University of Dundee we use the Harvard method, but Word does not include this in its list of options. A compromise is to use the APA format which is very similar.
You can select the Citation Style either in the Citations Palette or in the Document Elements palette as shown here.

Troubleshooting: Updating your document to docx


This process only works in .docx files – make sure you create a new file and save it in the correct format. It appears that if you try to convert an older file format (.doc) to the new format (.docx) some of the editing features won’t work.
So start your writing in a new .docx file.

If you’re converting an old file the best advice would be to copy all the text and go to Edit>Paste Special… and select "Unformatted text". This forces Word to get rid of anything that prevents the referencing tool from working correctly.

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