• Write an equation or formula Article
  • Indent the first line of a paragraph Article
  • Double-space the lines in a document Article
  • Create a bibliography, citations, and references Article
  • Insert footnotes and endnotes Article

how do you do a bibliography on word

Create a bibliography, citations, and references

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Put your cursor at the end of the text you want to cite.

Go to References  >   Style , and choose a citation style.

On the References tab choose a citation style from the Style list

Select Insert Citation .

Point to Insert Citation, and choose Add New Source

Choose  Add New Source  and fill out the information about your source.

Once you've added a source to your list, you can cite it again:

Go to References  >  Insert Citation , and choose the source you are citing.

Insert Citation dropdown

To add details, like page numbers if you're citing a book, select Citation Options , and then Edit Citation .

Select Citation Options, and then Edit Citation

Create a bibliography

With cited sources in your document, you're ready to create a bibliography.

Put your cursor where you want the bibliography.

Go to References > Bibliography , and choose a format.

Tip:  If you cite a new source, add it to the bibliography by clicking anywhere in the bibliography and selecting Update Citations and Bibliography .


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How to add a bibliography to a Word document

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If you use Microsoft Word, creating a bibliography is no longer as hard or harder than writing the document itself.

how do you do a bibliography on word

A bibliography is a list of sources referred to in a document. Many scholarly documents require one, and you probably had to create a few while in school. The list comprises citations, which include the title, author, publisher, date of publication, and so on for each source. You’ll use a bibliography to credit quotes and other facts to lend legitimacy to your document. The technical process in Microsoft Word is similar to footnote/endnotes or indexing and has three steps: Adding the sources as a citation, citing the citation, and then generating the bibliography. I’ll show you how simple it is to add sources and generate a bibliography.

I’m using Office 365 , but you can use earlier versions of Word . When using the .doc format, you will lose some features. You can work with your own document or download the demonstration .docx and .doc files . Word’s browser edition will display existing bibliographies, but you can’t add or edit sources or generate a bibliography while in the browser.

LEARN MORE: Office 365 Consumer pricing and features

How to add a source in Microsoft Word

Sources can be any kind of published work, from books to articles on the web. The information you include for a source will depend on you or the publisher. Word supports several styles, but the three most common are Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA) and Chicago. These styles determine the information needed and how that information is formatted. We won’t cover individual styles in this article–you will need to do a little research to determine what your publisher or recipient requires.

First, you need a source, so let’s run through a quick example.

how do you do a bibliography on word

Most of these fields ( Figure A ) are self-explanatory, though I want to call your attention to two options:

how do you do a bibliography on word

Once the citation exists, you don’t have to enter the information again. When referencing that source again, click Inert Citation in the Citations & Bibliography group and choose it from the resulting dropdown ( Figure C ).

how do you do a bibliography on word

Note about the author name and tags: When entering author names, you should be consistent because of the tags. Word uses the first three characters of the first name you enter: Susan Harkins 2001 is Sus01 but Harkins, Susan 2001 is Har01.

Before we continue, enter a few more sources using the different types of sources (books, periodicals, etc.)–you’ll want more than one citation when you create the bibliography. Notice that the fields change with different source types. Although this tool is flexible, it can’t correct typos. Be careful with your case, spelling, and so on. Bibliographies are very difficult and tedious to proof after the fact.

How to add a bibliography in Microsoft Word

After you have added all your sources and cited (marked) all your text references, you’re ready to create the bibliography. It’s similar to adding an index or table of contents—Word does most of the work for you. To add the bibliography, follow these steps.

That’s it! Everything you need is already in the document. Word will pull everything together for you. Figure D shows the results of choosing the first item in the dropdown list.

how do you do a bibliography on word

If you had chosen a style other than APA, the list would be formatted a bit differently, but Word knows where to put all the commas, periods, what needs to be italicized or in quotes, and so on.

Understanding sources

If you don’t get all the items you expected, you might need to take one more step. In the Citations & Bibliography group, click Manage Sources. If there are citations in the left list (which is the master list) that aren’t in the current list to the right but should be in the current document’s bibliography, copy them to the current list ( Figure E ). You can also see a preview of the APA style. Then, try again. This isn’t a bug–you control which citations go in the document and which don’t. Once you add a source, it’s available to other documents.

how do you do a bibliography on word

The Source Manager gives you access to all sources. You can search for a title or sort by author. You can edit a source. Sources are stored separately from the document, so you can cite a source that you created for one document in another. The master and current lists represent all sources and sources for the current document, respectively.

You can edit a source without using the Manage Sources dialog. You can do a lot from the citation at the document level because these “text” references are actually field codes. Simply click it and then click the dropdown arrow to display the available options shown in Figure F .

how do you do a bibliography on word

How to fix a known bug with the APA style

There is a known bug with the APA style (sixth), and fortunately, it has an easy fix. If you end up with multiple citations from the same author, Word might fill in the title when it isn’t supposed to. If this happens, try this quick fix.

Share your experiences of creating a bibliography in Word

Creating a bibliography in Word is easy. You can create a custom style if necessary, but doing so requires specialized knowledge in .xml development. If you’ve had trouble with a complex document and worked through it, share your experience in the comments section below.

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Word Tips  - How to Create a Bibliography or Works Cited Page in Word

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Word Tips: How to Create a Bibliography or Works Cited Page in Word

Lesson 16: how to create a bibliography or works cited page in word.


How to create a bibliography or works cited page in Word

If you need to write a research paper, chances are you'll also be required to include a bibliography . Or you might be asked to include a works cited page or a list of references . These are all just different names for the same thing: a list of sources —such as books, articles, or even websites—that you used to research and write your paper. A bibliography makes it easy for someone else to see where you found your information. A short bibliography might look something like this:

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

You could create a bibliography manually, but it would take a lot of work. And if you ever decide to add more sources or use a different reference style, you’ll have to update everything all over again. But if you take the time to input your sources into Word, it can create and update a bibliography automatically. This can save you a lot of time and help ensure your references are accurate and correct.

Step 1: Choose a reference style

When you're creating a bibliography, you'll need to follow the guidelines of the required style guide . Different academic disciplines use their own styles guides, such as MLA , APA , and Chicago . Fortunately, Word comes with several built-in style guides; all you need to do is select the one you want to use, and Word will help you format your bibliography correctly.

To do this, click the References tab, then select the desired style in the Citations & Bibliography group.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

You can use this same method to change the reference style at any time.

Step 2: Add citations and sources

Whenever you use information from one of your sources, you'll need to give credit—or cite them. This is known as making a citation. You'll include citations whenever you use information from a source or when you quote a source directly.

To add a citation, select the desired location for the citation in your document, click the Insert Citation command on the References tab, and select Add New Source .

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

A dialog box will appear. Enter the requested information for the source—like the author name, title, and publication details—then click OK .

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

The citation will appear in the document, and the source will be saved. You can quickly add another citation for the source by clicking Insert Citation and selecting the source from the drop-down menu.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

Step 3: Insert the bibliography

Time for the easy part! Once you've added all of your sources, you can create your bibliography in just a few clicks! Just select the Bibliography command, then choose the desired style.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

The bibliography will appear at the end of your document. Your sources will already be formatted to match the selected style guide. You should still double-check each of your sources against your style guide to make sure they're correct. If you need a quick reference for MLA, APA, or Chicago formatting, we recommend the Purdue Online Writing Lab .

If you add more sources to your document, you can easily update your bibliography—just click it and select Update Citations and Bibliography .

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

No matter how many sources you include in your document, Word's built-in tools make it easy to create and organize a bibliography. If you want further guidance with the process, check out this tutorial from Microsoft on how to Create a Bibliography .



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Microsoft Word Bibliography Tool: Windows (Word 2010)

2 Steps to a Bibliography in Word 2010

Insert citations.

When you add a new citation to a document, you also create a new source that will appear in the bibliography.

To insert an existing source, select that source from the source list. Note: Word creates a Master List of all sources used on that computer. This list is stored in a separate file on the hard drive, and is available in the Manage Sources menu. If you use a campus lab computer, or another shared computer, you may not see a Master List .

Create Bibliography/Works Cited List

You can create a bibliography at any point after you insert one or more sources in a document. If you don't have all of the information that you need about a source to create a complete citation, you can use a placeholder citation, and then complete the source information later.

 Note:   Placeholder citations do not appear in the bibliography. You must add full information before they will be added.

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4 Easy Steps to Creating a Bibliography in Microsoft Word

Tonya Thompson

The assignment's in front of you: Write a research paper and include a bibliography with properly cited sources. If you want to make the assignment as painless as possible, do what experienced academic writers do and go straight to Microsoft Word® to build your bibliography as you write.

With several options for online access to Microsoft Word , you'll find that the software offers a great way to streamline the process of creating a bibliography and proper in-text citations as you begin the research process. Doing this as you write—instead of waiting for the end to put all the citations together into a bibliography, references, or works cited list—makes writing a research paper so much easier.

Step 1: Choose a style from the References tab

Screenshot of Microsoft Word 1

For this first step in creating your bibliography in Microsoft Word, locate the References tab at the top of your screen. Next, look for the Citations & Bibliography group under the References tab. Click the drop-down box next to Style in the Citations & Bibliography group and choose the appropriate style for your paper. The available styles are listed in alphabetical order, and likely will include some styles you've never heard of before, such as:

After completing this step, it's time to write your paper and add citations.

Step 2: Insert citations in the text of your document

At this point in the progress of your research paper, you'll need to insert a citation wherever source information is needed in the text. Whether this is a direct quote or paraphrasing the writing of another, citations are required for all research.

To insert a citation, click the References tab. In the Citations & Bibliography section, click the Insert Citation button to add a new source.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word 2

A window like the one in the image above should then pop up, allowing you to enter all the source information, including type of source, author, title, year, publisher and city of publication. The fields will change based on what type of source you choose. For example, if you choose to add a source that is a journal article—one of the most common types of sources used in research—the fields will be: Author, title, journal name, year, and page numbers (since these are the details required in a citation for a journal article). However, if you choose the type of source as sound recording, the fields will include: Composer, performer, title, year, city, state, and country.

This is one of the great benefits to using Microsoft Word to create your paper and accompanying bibliography. The software ensures that the unique details of each source—whether it's a website, piece of artwork, or journal article—are correctly collected on the front-end in the writing process. When you reach the end of your initial draft, your sources should be already included and managed, allowing you to create a bibliography at the literal touch of a button.

A note on placeholders

You'll notice that when you press the Insert Citation button, you're given two choices: Add new source and add new placeholder. You should choose "Add new source" if you have most of the source's information. However, if you don't have very much information about the source but know that you are writing a paragraph or sentence that needs to be cited, you can choose "Add new placeholder" to create a placeholder citation for the text.

Step 3: Manage your sources

After you input all your sources for citations within your text, you will be able to manage the sources and include some (or all) in a master list. Clicking on Manage Sources within the Citations & Bibliography section allows you to do this. Once clicked, this will take you to a list version of all the sources you have inputted thus far, allowing you to add them to (or subtract them from) a master list. It will also allow you to make any changes that are needed.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word 3

Now from this menu, you can add, delete, and edit your sources. You will also be able to preview the sources' bibliography format in the lower pane of the window that opens when you manage sources.

Step 4: Add the bibliography

Now that you've completed your paper and added all sources, creating the bibliography is the easy part. Simply place your cursor where you want the bibliography to be in your paper, click on the References tab, then click Bibliography in the Citations & Bibliography section. When you do this, a drop-down arrow will allow you to choose the correct title for your bibliography—either Bibliography, References, or "Works Cited." Once you've chosen the title, click Insert Biography and voila! Your bibliography is inserted and formatted exactly as it should be for the style you've chosen.

Screenshot of Microsoft Word 4

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How to create a bibliography in Word

Sandy Writtenhouse

When you write a college essay or school paper, you'll not only need to print it out, but including a bibliography is paramount, too. The easiest way to do so is to add your citations and create a bibliography automatically in Microsoft Word per the writing format you select.

Here, we’ll walk through adding citations, managing sources, and how to create a bibliography in Word and update it when needed.

Add a new citation in Microsoft Word

Manage your sources in word, create a bibliography in word, update a bibliography in word, what you need.

Microsoft Word

To add a new citation in Word for a source you’ve never used before, you’ll need the basic details for it, whether it's a book, article, website, or another source. So, make sure you have the information handy and then follow these steps.

Step 1: Go to the References tab and the Citations & bibliography section of the ribbon.

Step 2: Choose your writing format in the Style drop-down menu, which likely displays as APA by default. You’ll find the most common formats in the list, like MLA, Chicago, and others.

Step 3: Select Insert citation in the same section of the ribbon and pick Add new source .

Use the Type of source drop-down box to pick the kind, and you’ll see the fields beneath update to accommodate the source type.

Step 4: Add the necessary details for your source. Optionally, you can check the box for Show all bibliography fields if the ones you want don’t display.

Step 5: When you finish, select OK to save the source, and you’ll see it added to your content in the format you selected.

After you add a source to your paper, you can make edits to it or reuse it. Plus, your sources are saved to a master list that allows you to use them in other Word documents.

Step 1: On the References tab, select Manage sources in the Citations & bibliography section of the ribbon.

Step 2: When the box opens, you’ll see the Master list of sources on the left. If you added one using the section above, you’ll see it in this list as well.

Step 3: When you finish with the Source Manager, select Close .

With sources in the Current List in the Source Manager, you can quickly add an in-text citation. Select the Insert citation button on the References tab and pick the source from the drop-down list.

When you’re ready to insert a bibliography, Word automatically uses the sources you’ve added to the Source Manager list.

Step 1: Place your cursor in the document where you want the bibliography and go to the References tab.

Step 2: Confirm the writing format is correct in the Style drop-down box, whether you’re using APA, MLA, or another style.

Step 3: Select the Bibliography drop-down menu in the Citations & bibliography section of the ribbon. You’ll see a few built-in options you can choose from with different headings.

If you prefer one without a heading, choose Insert bibliography .

Step 4: Pick the option you want and it’ll pop into your document.

Because Word creates your bibliography automatically, you can update it easily if needed, just like when you include a table of contents . You might add more citations or edit the details for a source.

Step 1: Select the bibliography and then choose the Update citations and bibliography button on the top left.

Step 2: You’ll see the list of references update to include any additions or changes.

College is tough enough without worrying about how to create a bibliography for your paper. Hopefully, this how-to gets you off to a great start!

Now that you know how to create a bibliography in Word, take a look at how to double-space your paper or how to add page numbers in Word.

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Create a Bibliography, References, or Work Cited

A Bibliography is a list of all the sources in the document. In the MLA format ( Modern Language Association ), the list of sources is called Works Cited , that is a type of bibliography, which can include sources other than books. In the APA format ( American Psychological Association ), it is called a References list.

Before you create the Bibliography , References , or Works Cited , make sure you have replaced all placeholders with a proper citation (for more details, see how to create a citation , how to create a multi-source citation ). If you inserted a placeholder for a citation, the source would not appear in the bibliography. However, if you later replace the placeholder with source information, the bibliography will be automatically updated, and the new source will be added to the bibliography.

Create a Bibliography, References, and Works Cited

To create a bibliography, follow the next steps:

   1.   Place the cursor where you want to insert the bibliography:

   2.   On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click the Bibliography button and then do one of the following:

Citations and Bibliography in Word 365

Bibliography Word 365

Note : If you choose the Insert Bibliography option, you will need to add a heading such as Bibliography , References , or Works Cited .

Word creates the Bibliography , References , or the Works Cited based on the sources. For example, the Bibliography in the IEEE style (see more about styles below):

example of Bibliography in Word 365

Note : The automatically created bibliography, it does not matter how you created it, contains all sources of the document, even if some were removed or added by mistake. See how to manage sources for the Bibliography , References , and Works Cited for more details.

Empty Bibliography, References, and Works Cited

After inserting a Bibliography , References , and Works Cited , Word can create a message “There are no sources in the current document.” :

Empty Bibliography, References, and Works Cited in Word 365

The leading cause for this message is that Word could not find the citations created using the Citations & Bibliography functionality (see how to create a citation in a Word document ). It is possible that there are placeholders in the document, but they are still empty.

To solve that problem, check the placeholders and citations. See how to manage sources for more details.

Don't forget to update bibliography in a document!

Citation and bibliography formats

Depending on the selected style, the Bibliography , References , and Works Cited look quite different. For example, the Works Cited using the APA style:

example of Works Cited in Word 365

To change the style, on the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, open the Style drop-down list:

Reference Styles in Word 365

Choose the format you need:

The specified format for citations and a bibliography can be the requirement for some types of the document.

Note : You do not need to create a bibliography to see how it will look for selected style. After choosing the bibliography style, you can preview the format in the Bibliography list:

example of the Bibliography list in Word 365

Update a Bibliography, References, and Works Cited

Microsoft Word inserts a Bibliography , References , and Works Cited as a field:

Field of the Bibliography in Word 365

See how to turn on or turn off highlighting of fields in a Word document to display all fields in a document with a gray background.

Word will not automatically update any type of Bibliography after adding, deleting, or modifying sources or placeholders. You need manually update it, to do so, click on the Bibliography and do one of the following:

Update Field in the popup menu Word 365

See also how to lock and unlock updating for fields .

Modify a Bibliography, References, and Works Cited

Word offers very simple way to change Bibliography to Works Cited or to References , and vice versa. To do so, click on the Bibliography to show the field options. At the top of the field borders, click the Bibliographies button:

Modify in Bibliography field Word 365

Choose the bibliography type you need: Bibliography , References , or Works Cited .

Word also proposed the commands:

You can use this command for the final version of the document to avoid any changes for sources, updates, or style changes.

Note : If the source has the default language, it can be shown for any selected language.

Delete a Bibliography, References, and Works Cited

To delete a Bibliography , it isn't enough to delete only visible information, it is necessary to delete all the field. To do so, do the following:

   1.   Select the total Bibliography lines, including the last, empty line right after the Bibliography entries.

Note : If possible, click inside to show the field options. At the top of the field borders, click the Field button to select all the bibliography lines:

Select the Bibliography in Word 365

   2.   Click the Delete key.

Note : All the citations and placeholders (source information) are still saved in the current document, as well as in Word's Master list (see manage sources for more details).

See also this tip in French: Comment créer une bibliographie .

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How to Create a Bibliography Using Word


Steps for using word to help with your bibliography formatting

Are you tired of wading through long lists of sources or shuffling through index cards to create your citations and bibliography in Word? Do you have a deadline to meet and can't spend hours manually formatting your APA references ? Students, academics, and researchers—did you know that you can create a bibliography using Word 2007 and 2010? You can also format in-text citations, insert footnotes/endnotes, and manage your sources.  In fact, all you have to do is input the information and let Word take care of the rest.

In-text citations

When creating a bibliography using Word, the first step is to decide which style to use (e.g., APA , MLA , or Turabian ). Then, go to the References tab and choose it from the drop-down menu.

How to set a reference style in Word.

Unfortunately, if you need a style that's not on the list, it's not as easy to automatically reference or create a bibliography using Word. If you are confident in your XML skills, you can create your own XML file in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\Bibliography\Style (see the Microsoft blog for detailed instructions). For the rest of us, some styles, including Vancouver, IEEE, AMA, and Harvard (UK), are available for download from BibWord (they're free!). But for the purpose of this article, let's assume that you're using the Chicago Manual of Style .

You're typing along and want to add a citation. First, put the cursor at the end of the sentence and then go to Insert Citation and Add New Source .

How to insert a citation.

Complete the source form. To add more information, click on Show All Bibliography Fields at the bottom left.   

How to add source information.

The next time you want to reference the source, it will be available to you when you choose Insert Citation .

How to select a citation.

If you don't have all the necessary information to create an entire bibliography, or are in a hurry and just want to mark where to put the citation, you can choose Add New Placeholder under Insert Citation and come back later to complete the form.

Inserting footnotes and endnotes really couldn't be easier. All you have to do is click on Insert Footnote —these are automatically numbered/updated as you edit the text—or Insert Endnote and start typing.

Managing sources

The Source Manager lets you add, delete, and edit sources; it is also where you go to complete your placeholders and is a great help when it comes to creating your bibliography. Word stores every source that you've ever entered, which can be handy, especially if you reuse your sources in, say, both your research proposal and academic essay. To create a current list from the master list, just go to Manage Sources and copy, delete, and edit as necessary. Also, note that the sources have a check mark in front, but the placeholders have a question mark, reminding you to add the missing information. You can even see a preview in the window at the bottom of the Source Manager.

How to manage your sources.

Creating a bibliography using word

After you have all your data entered, you'll want to create the bibliography. Again, it's simple. Just put your cursor where you want it, and click on Bibliography.

How to create the bibliography.

Voila! It appears. Overall, formatting your references and creating your bibliography using Word is a great time saver and spares you the hassle of having to input your sources manually every time, for every paper.

To ensure all your references are properly formatted according to your style guide, be sure to send it to the professionals at Scribendi for a thorough essay edit before submitting it to your professor.

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Save Yourself from the Hassle of Formatting References

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How to Cite Sources and Create a Bibliography in Word

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If you need to cite sources and create a bibliography in Word for your research paper, essay, or article, the process is easy and flexible with our how-to.

It’s much easier these days to create a bibliography for your research, term paper, article, or thesis than it used to be. And if you use Microsoft Word to write your papers, it offers a built-in tool for creating and automatically updating sources and a bibliography in the most common styles.

You can save a list of sources to reuse within the same document or new documents, fill in all the details you need with a helpful tool, and insert a bibliography at any time and in any spot. Here’s how it’s done!

The Word References Tab

For this task, you’ll be working with the References tab in Word which is the same area you’d use to create a table of contents . And there is a nice section in the ribbon on this tab called, you guessed it, Citations & Bibliography .

You also have two convenient ways to add a list of sources. You can add them as you work through your document or add them all upfront and then insert them as needed.

So, open up your Word document or create a new one and let’s begin!

Select Your Style

A good first step for citing sources and creating a bibliography in Word correctly is to select the Style in the Citations & Bibliography of the ribbon. As with college papers, professors usually require a specific style. By selecting this right from the start, sources will be formatted as they should be throughout your document writing process.

Click the Style drop-down and select the one you want from the list. You’ll see the most common citation styles like APA, MLA, Chicago, and several others.

Select Citation Style

Cite New Sources as You Write

When you land on a spot in your document where you need to cite a source, the fun begins. Click the Insert Citation  button and select Add New Source .

You’ll notice that you can also choose to Add (a) New Placeholder . This is convenient if you haven’t gotten the details for your source yet but want to make sure you hold a spot for it.

Add a New Source in Word

When the Create Source box opens, you’ll have everything you need to cite your source.

Type of Source : Click the drop-down box and choose the source type from the list. You can pick from plenty of options like a book, website, article, patent, sound recording, and others.

Bibliography Fields per style : Obviously the details for your source will vary depending on the type beyond the basic fields you need like title and author. You’ll have options for things like the URL of the website, the patent number for a patent, and the director for a film.

All Bibliography Fields : Although you’ll be presented with the fields you need for the style you select you can also view All Bibliography Fields by marking that checkbox. Then, you’ll see red asterisks next to the recommended fields.

Show All Bibliography Fields

Adding More Details : You’ll notice that some fields have an Edit button next to them. This is helpful if you want to add more than one name to a field. Complete the Add Name fields for the first person, click the Add button, then complete the name fields for the next person. You can use the Up and Down buttons to place the names in the order you want them to display. Click OK when you finish.

Add More Details for a Source

Manage Your Sources

Once you begin adding sources to your document or if you prefer to add them all upfront, you can use the Source Manager. Click Manage Sources in the Citations & Bibliography section of the ribbon.

When the tool displays, you’ll see the Master List on the left and your Current List on the right. Here’s how to work with the Source Manager.

Source Manager in Word

You can use the Search box at the top to find a certain source or the Sort drop-down list to sort sources by author, tag, title, or year.

When you finish working with the Source Manager, click Close .

Cite Saved Sources as You Write

Any source that you see in your Current List in the Source Manager can be inserted into your document easily. So, once you add a source, you can reuse it with a couple of clicks.

When you hit a spot in your document where you want to cite a source, click Insert Citation from the ribbon. You’ll see your Current List above the Add New Source option. Select one and it will pop right into your document.

Insert a Saved Source

Create an Updating Bibliography

You can add an updating, built-in bibliography to your Word document before or after you cite your sources. This is handy because you can update the bibliography at any time with a click.

Place your cursor where you want the bibliography and click the Bibliography button in the ribbon. Choose one of the Built-In options from the top: Bibliography, References, or Works Cited.  You’ll see your bibliography pop into your document, formatting nicely, and exactly as it should be for the style you selected.

Insert a Bibliography in Word

On the top left of the bibliography heading is an arrow you can click to collapse and expand it. Above the heading, you’ll see a toolbar that lets you do the following.

Bibliography Toolbar in Word

Use a Static Bibliography in Word

You’ll also see the option for Insert Bibliography at the bottom of the Bibliography drop-down list in the ribbon. In addition, you’ll see a Convert bibliography to static text option in the Bibliography toolbar .

Convert Bibliography to Static Text

Both options give you the same results:

Never Forget to Cite a Source in Word

With the tools that Microsoft Word offers, creating a bibliography for your document is no longer a tedious task. Plus, you can cite and reuse saved sources quickly and easily!

Looking for more help? Check out how to add and use custom dictionaries in Microsoft Word or how to add annotations in your next Word document .

how do you do a bibliography on word

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How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word

An annotated bibliography is an important part of any research document. Let's see how to create one with the help of Microsoft Word.

Sometimes, the value of scholarship is in the documents you create to prove it. Every scholar wishes not to get bogged down by paperwork. But look at it this way—the academic document advertises your credibility and the thoroughness of your research. It is also the Kevlar against plagiarism (and sometimes the cause of it).

Every academic document has its own nuts and bolts. Today, let's talk about an important one— the annotated bibliography .

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to journals, books, articles, and other documents followed by a brief paragraph. The paragraph(s) is a description of the source and how it supports your paper.

It is the one document that can make your and your professor's life easier as you end your research paper with a flourish.

The Annotated Bibliography: Let's Define It

It's important not to confuse an annotated bibliography with a regular bibliography or works cited.

A regular bibliography is simply a list of source citations. Nothing more. The screen below is an example of a regular bibliography. As you can see, it doesn't go into deeper detail about the books or sources mentioned.

An annotated bibliography has a few more parts to it. It is easy to get the idea from the meaning of the word “annotation”. According to Merriam-Webster, an annotation is:

A note added to a text, book, drawing, etc., as a comment or explanation.

Here's what a common annotated bibliography looks like. I am sure you can instantly make out the extra parts that go into framing it.

As you can see, the sample above starts with the usual bibliographic citation. Then, it includes a summary and a clear evaluation of the source you used for researching your topic. The intent behind adding your own summary and analysis after the primary or secondary source is to define the topic area and how it applies to your research. You have to add an annotation each time that you create a new source.

It is a lot of work. But this effort from you helps the reader find useful information at a glance. It tells the reader how each borrowed information has helped the progress of the paper. And, it offers everyone a window into your thinking behind the topic you have selected.

Using Word to Create an Annotated Bibliography

The easiest way to create an annotated bibliography in Microsoft Word? Use a template to save time.

But it is always better to create one from scratch and sharpen your research writing skills in the process. It is not difficult, so don't hold yourself back. You have to keep in mind the style of the documentation required for your research. There are distinguishing differences between the APA, AMA, and MLA Styles.

I am going to follow the MLA (Modern Language Association) Style and show how to create a well-formatted document in Microsoft Word in five basic steps.

1. Set Up Your Word Document . Go to Ribbon > Layout > Margins > Normal (1-inch margins on all sides).

2. Set the font. MLA recommends a serif font (e.g., Times New Roman). Go to Home > Font and choose Times New Roman and 12 pt . Also, go to the Paragraph group and choose 2.0 for double-spaced line settings.

Start the Annotated Bibliography

3. Choose the location. An annotated bibliography begins on a new page that follows the end of your research sections. Type “Annotated Bibliography” at the top and center-align it on the page. It should be capitalized and centered—not bolded or underlined.

4. Choose your sources. Research and record the information that pertains to your topic. A properly formatted citation comes first, and you have to cite your source according to the MLA Style.

The MLA citation style for a book follows this sample sequence:

Author, A.A. Write the Title of Work in Italics . Publisher City, State: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium.

Example: Smith, J. Just a Good Book That You Can Cite . New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Print.

The citation is the most important part—so do follow the format religiously by following the style format guide. There are many online sources that cover the popular citation styles in more detail.

5. Indent the second line. The second line of the citation uses a hanging indent to offset half-an-inch from the left margin. Just hit enter at the end of the first line and then press the Tab key to create the hanging indent. You can also adjust it with the hanging indent marker on the ruler. So, your citation will look like this:

As you can see above, each individual citation will start flush from the 1-inch margin. But everything from the second line will be offset 0.5 inches to the right.

To set the hanging indents, you can also go to Ribbon > Paragraph > Click on the Paragraph settings arrow to display the dialog box. Under Indentation , click on Special > Hanging . By default, the hanging indent is set to 0.5 inches.

Microsoft Word does not always like to space things properly. So, you might have to tweak it by hand and indent everything from the second line onward.

Use Microsoft Word's Bibliography Tool

Microsoft Word has a built-in bibliography tool you can use to manage your citations. On the Ribbon , go to the References tab.

In the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style . This looks slightly different on Microsoft Word for Mac, but can be found in the same area.

Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source, e.g., MLA.

Select the location where you want to start the citation. Then, click Insert Citation .

Two options are available in the dropdown menu.

If you choose Add New Source , enter all the citation details in the Create Source box. Click OK .

You can preview the citation in the Manage Sources dialog box.

Microsoft Word also helps you manage your long list of sources. The Office Support page also explains the nitty-gritty of bibliographies.

You can also use online citation generators, though there is more value in doing it yourself. As in everything, practice makes perfect. If you are a Word newbie, take time to learn all the tricks the Office suite has up its sleeve . And remember, automatic citation apps can make bibliographies easier to write.

If you're trying to create an annotated bibliography on Windows for Mac, then you'll be relieved to hear that the process is almost identical.

Write the Annotation

Just to remind you again: the annotation begins below the citation. The annotated text is also indented below the citation. The first line of the citation that begins with the author's last name is the only text that is flush left in the entire bibliography.

The paragraphs you include will depend on the aim of your bibliography. Some annotations may summarize, some may analyze a source, while some may offer an opinion on the ideas cited. Some annotations may include all three paragraphs. In brief: it can be descriptive, analytical, or critical. But it follows a specific order…

In the MLA Style, annotated bibliographies have to be arranged alphabetically according to the last names of the first author mentioned in each of the citations. So, just copy-paste each annotation in the proper order.

A Few Resources for the MLA Style

One of the best videos I could find on YouTube that explains the entire process in detail comes from Columbus State Library.

It's also useful to keep these two official documentation sites bookmarked.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a useful resource for understanding style formats quickly. Lastly, if you need to cite a YouTube video in MLA Style , then this guide could be helpful.

Is Writing an Annotated Bibliography Hard?

The research is the hard part. Don't make turning your research into the desired format harder than it should be. It really isn't. Academicians have turned it into something mystical!

Just pay attention to the little details. If you are used to the APA Style, a move to MLA Style can spark mistakes. That could be the difference between a pat on the back or a red mark.


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