In-text Citations in Microsoft Word

You’ve done the brainstorming, you have your outline, your thesis is solid, and you have a stack of excellent resources to use for your research paper.   Though you know how to do citations well, the thought of doing it over and over and over again seems a little overwhelming, especially since you still have to write the paper, too. Fortunately, Microsoft Word has a built-in tool to make citations a lot easier. Though it isn’t perfect, this tool helps you manage your sources and makes it much easier to do in-text citations. Additionally, it helps track the sources you have already cited.

Organizing your References

1)    Open Microsoft Word.

2)    Click on the “References” tab.

3)    Choose a Style from the drop-down menu.



4)    Click “Manage Sources.”

5)    Click “New…”


6)    Choose the type of source from the drop-down menu.

7)    Enter all the prompted information. Note: You can check the “Show All Bibliography Fields” box to ensure you have all the information necessary.

8)    Click “Ok.”

9)    Repeat until all your references are entered. You can always come back and add more, but it makes it easiest to enter them all at the beginning.


In-Text Citations

1)    Start writing your paper until you come to a point that you need a citation (after a quote or paraphrase).

2)    In the “References” tab, click “Insert Citation” and choose the source you want to cite.


3)    Check that the citation follows the proper format for that citation style. If not, edit the citation by clicking once inside it, clicking the arrow on the right, and selecting “Edit Citation.”


Inserting the Bibliography

1)    In the “References” tab, click “Bibliography.”

2)    Select the one you want. Keep in mind there is a difference between a works cited page and a bibliography. If you’re not sure which to use, consult your instructor.


3)    Reformat the bibliography to fit the stylistic requirements (spacing, indents, etc.).



Final Steps

1)    For all citations and bibliography entries, check that they meet the requirements for that citation style. Microsoft is not perfect!

2)    For IEEE, you will need to update the fields as you write to make sure the numerical order is correct. To do this, select all your text (Ctrl + A), right click a citation, and choose “Update field.”


While Microsoft Word makes it a lot easier to manage your references, it is very important to understand how to do the citations without programs. If you need to access some style guides, you can find some on the Multiliteracies website ( Some additional resources you may find useful are the Purdue OWL website (, Keys for Writers, or the IEEE website (


– written by Kate Bauer



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