Citations using Word 2007: Bibliographies made easy 6


Creating neat bibliographies can be a pain, Word 2007 makes it easy

Note: There is an easier way to cite in MS Word and it’s free.  Check out my note on Zotero citation tool.

There are hundreds of formats for citations like Chicago, APA, etc.  The only thing in common between them is that each of them is a nightmare!  I cannot imagine how people did extensive citations before the coming of automated help.  I am a big fan of refworks, endnote and other bibliography managers.  Unfortunately, these are costly and cannot be afforded by everyone.  For those who did not have the fortune of having one of these, websites like Citation Machine provided some free help.  Basically, one can enter the name of one’s book, article, and other details and get the citation in the correct format.  We can then copy and paste this into our editor.  MS Word 2007 has now introduced an ability to add citations and create bibliographies with ease.


There is now a tab called “references”.  After clicking this we can add a new source (article, book, book section, etc.) by clicking on insert citation button.  The citation gets added to that point automatically. Word 2007 offers many styles including MLA, Chicago, APA, ISO, etc.  Once we are ready, click the bibliography button to get a neatly formatted bibliography at the bottom of the file.

Adding page numbers

To add page numbers, put your cursor anywhere on the in-line citation.  A drop box will appear on the bottom right.  Once we click it would have a button called “Edit citation”.  Click this button and it will have a box where we can add a page number.

Advantages over Citation Machine

Word 2007 offers significant advantages over online citation generators like Citation Machine.  To begin with, there is no need to copy and paste the inline text and the formamted citation.  When we copy and paste, it takes a while to ensure that the order is maintained in the bibliography at the bottom.  Worst of all, if we choose to change our style, say from APA to MLA, we have to start all over again in citation machine.  With Word 2007, we can do this with a click of a button.

No substitute for Refworks, Endnote, Bibtex

Word 2007 is no substitute to Refworks or other bibliography managers.  It lacks many useful functions that come with one of these managers. Most importantly, there is no ability to import citations from sources such as econlit or JSTOR.  It does not offer folders, search facilities, etc. for using it as a useful database.   While the drop down box for inserting citations is very useful for a limited number of citations, it’d be a nightmare if we have a large database.

On the whole, Word 2007’s bibliography functionality is useful with limited citations but is un-evolved to serve as a bibliography database as yet.

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About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.


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