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How to cite automatically with MS word/How to make references or write bibliography automatically with MS Word

How to cite automatically with MS Word?

How to make references or write bibliography automatically with MS Word?


Zubair A. Bajwa

In this article, I will guide you about making automatic citations and bibliography with the help of MS Word. Doing manual insertion of bibliography or in-text citations is, in no way, an easy task. Most of the researchers’ precious time is wasted in managing bibliographies which can be handled very easily with a word-processing software such as MS Word.


Benefits of generating Citations/Bibliography with

MS Word

  • Using MS word to cite and generate references brings you a lot of ease and comfort by saving your efforts as well as your time.
  • Everything becomes automatic, you don’t have to bother about verifying the small details of your references i.e. whether you have italicized or you have put a full stop, comma etc.
  • You don’t have to write in-text citation again and again. you can repeat the process by just one click.
  • The added sources in MS Word can also be exported for later use. For, example, you can copy them into another MS Word file and use them in that file. This saves a lot of precious time.
  • Most importantly, MS Word allows you to add citations and bibliography in all styles such APA, MLA, Chicago etc. With just one click, it can change your APA to MLA and other styles and vice versa. This saves you a lot of time if you have, for example added fifty sources. Just think about starting over with writing bibliography – IT WILL BE SO MUCH FRUSTRATING!

Note: I would recommend that you must use updated MS Office application. The version of MS word in your computer should not be older than 2013. The latest MS Office (Word) has 2016 version at the time I am writing this article. However, I would strongly recommend not to use MS Word 2007 or older if you want to make citations and bibliographies with the help of MS Word.

Citation Process

Let’s start our citation process. Follow these steps.

  1. Go to the Reference tab of your MS Word







2.   Under Manage Sources, there is an option of “Style”.  Click the arrow down icon (next to Style) and a list of options will appear. From this list, you can choose your required reference format (i.e. APA, MLA and all others). We use APA in linguistics. So, I will choose it and proceed further.















3.   Click Insert Citations, and you will see two options (i) Add New Source (ii) Add New Placeholder








4.    Choose “Add New Source”. A new popup window will appear on your screen. This screen is a type of performa or a form with all the required information that would be needed for the citation and its reference.











5.   Before filling this form out, look at the first option which reads “Type of Source”. Type of Source lets MS Word know about the particulars that must be collected before it can generate a reference. By default, you see the “Book” option but you can choose a difference source by clicking the arrow down icon. When you click it, you will get other options like Book Section, Journal Article, Report.










6.   Now, after choosing the type of source you want to cite, the columns will change according to your choice (so don’t worry). All you got to do is to fill in the required information such as

  1. Author
  2. Title (title of the type of your source)
  3. Year (in which was published)
  4. City (such as New York. You can find this information on your book or journal etc.)
  5. Publisher










7.   There is also one more option Show All Bibliographic Fields. If you want to fill in more information such as edition of the book, editors of the book instead of an authors (as many books don’t have one but various authors for each chapter) or numbers of pages etc., you can use this option.









After you select it, you will see all the other options as in the picture below.












When you are done, click ok.

8.   Now go to text in your document where you want to insert citation. Click there. Go back again to Reference tab and now choose Insert Citation (your added source will appear in the list). From the added list of sources, choose the one that you want to insert. Done!

Adding Bibliography

9.   To add the references at the end of your documents, first go to the end your document and click there. Now from the Reference tab, choose the Bibliography option and then select references. 

















How to edit the sources that you have already added?

In case you have made a mistake in while adding a source, you don’t need to erase it entirely. You can edit it quickly and easily by selecting the Manage Sources option.


10.   Go to Manage Sources. A popup window showing your added sources will appear on your screen. Just select the source you want to edit and then click Edit/Delete/Copy (whichever operation you want to perform) button.


















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