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4 Easy Steps to Creating a Bibliography in Microsoft Word

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

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First choose a style from the References tab.

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:

  • APA
  • Chicago
  • GB771
  • Gost – Name sort
  • Gost – Title sort
  • Harvard – Anglia
  • IEEE
  • ISO 690 – First element and date
  • ISO 690 – Numerical reference
  • MLA
  • SIST02
  • Turabian

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.

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Next insert citations in the text of your document.

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.

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Next you should manage your sources.

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.

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The last step is to add the bibliography.
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