Have you ever written or typed a research paper or university dissertation, either for yourself or for your boss? If so, like me you might remember the painful process of including a bibliography, or list of references, both of which are terms for a list of the sources used to research and write the paper, whether that is a book, article or website. 

If only I’d known then what I know now!

Let’s start with what a bibliography is and how it is made up. A bibliography is a list of references and it comprises “citations”, to include the title, author, publisher, date of publication, etc. for each source. You can create this manually but it is quite time-consuming and then you can run into problems if you need to update the bibliography later.

However, if you carry out the first step of inputting your sources, Word can create and update a bibliography automatically. This can save a lot of time and help ensure the references are accurate and correct. The process in Microsoft Word is similar to creating footnotes, endnotes or indexing, and has three steps: adding the sources as a citation, citing the citation, and then generating the bibliography.

Let’s see how it works.

Add a List of Works Cited

On the References Ribbon click the drop-down arrow under Bibliography (1) and select Works Cited (2).

Add Bibliography

A list is generated of all the citations listed in the document.

Create a Bibliography

Before you can create a bibliography, you need to have at least one citation and source in your document that will appear in your bibliography. If you don’t have all the information 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.

Add a New Citation and Source to a Document

On the References Ribbon, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style.

  1. Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source. For example, social sciences documents usually use the MLA or APA styles for citations and sources.
  2. Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite.
  3. On the References Ribbon, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Insert Citation.
  1. Do one of the following:
  2. To add the source information, click Add New Source, then begin to fill in the source information by clicking the arrow next to Type of source. For example, your source might be a book, a report, or a Web site.
  3. To add a placeholder so that you can create a citation and fill in the source information later, click Add New Placeholder. A question mark appears next to placeholder sources in Source Manager.
  4. Fill in the bibliography information for the source.

To add more information about a source, click the Show All Bibliography Fields check box.

Now you can create your bibliography.

Notes:

  • If you choose a GOST or ISO 690 style for your sources and a citation is not unique, append an alphabetic character to the year. For example, a citation would appear as [Pasteur, 1848a].
  • If you choose ISO 690-Numerical Reference and your citations still don’t appear consecutively, you must click the ISO 690 style again, and then press ENTER to correctly order the citations.

Assemble a Bibliography

Now that you’ve inserted one or more citations and sources in your document you can assemble your bibliography.

  1. Click where you want to insert a bibliography, usually at the end of the document.
  2. On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Bibliography.

Click a predesigned bibliography format to insert the bibliography into the document.

Find a Source

The list of sources that you use can become quite long. At times, you might search for a source that you cited in another document by using the Manage Sources command.

  1. On the References Ribbon, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Manage Sources.

If you open a new document that does not yet contain citations, all the sources that you used in previous documents appear under Master List.

If you open a document that includes citations, the sources for those citations appear under Current List. All the sources that you have cited, either in previous documents or in the current document, appear under Master List.

To find a specific source, do one of the following:

  • In the sorting box, sort by author, title, citation tag name, or year, and then search the resulting list for the source that you want to find.
  • In the Search box, type the title or author for the source that you want to find. The list dynamically narrows to match your search term.

Note: You can click the Browse button in Source Manager to select another master list from which you can import new sources into your document. For example, you might connect to a file on a shared server, on a research colleague’s computer or server, or on a website that is hosted by a university or research institution.

Edit a Citation Placeholder

Occasionally, you may want to create a placeholder citation and then wait until later to fill in the complete bibliography source information. Any changes that you make to a source are automatically reflected in the bibliography if you have already created one. A question mark appears next to placeholder sources in Source Manager.

  1. On the References Ribbon, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Manage Sources.

2. Under Current List, click the placeholder that you want to edit.

Note: Placeholder sources are alphabetised in Source Manager, along with all other sources, based on the placeholder tag name. By default, placeholder tag names contain the word Placeholder and a number, but you can customise the placeholder tag name with whatever tag you want.

  1. Click Edit.
  2. Begin to fill in the source information by clicking the arrow next to Type of source. For example, your source might be a book, a report, or a website.
  3. Fill in the bibliography information for the source. To add more information about a source, click the Show All Bibliography Fields check box.

Reading this, you may feel it is a long and difficult process, but I guarantee it will save time in the long run and result in a more accurate and consistent bibliography. Give it a go and see if you agree.

To learn more about Microsoft Word and how you can speed up routine tasks, take a look at my Microsoft Word Courses, Work Smarter with Style for Windows and Work Smarter with Style for Mac  and Create Lead Magnets and eBooks in Word

Or take a look at the HUB and have access to ALL my courses including any new ones that are added. Always the best value.

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