Create References in Record time in Microsoft Word

Do you find yourself needing to create APA citations for your college papers? I personally find this process a little like taxes. You can’t get out of it, it’s tedious, and if you fall asleep or make a mistake, your time will be tripled while you work to correct those mistakes. I can’t help with taxes, but after reading and following the instructions in this article, hopefully you won’t feel like throwing the APA manual through your window!

The good news is if you have Microsoft Word 2010 or later, you already have everything you need to create citations and bibliography pages like a dream! Word can create the following citation types:

  • APA Sixth Edition
  • Chicago sixteenth Edition
  • GB7714 2005
  • GOST – Name Sort 2003
  • GOST – Title Sort 2003
  • Harvard – Anglia 2008
  • IEEE 2006
  • ISO 690 – First Element and Date 1987
  • ISO 690 – Numerical Reference 1987
  • MLA Seventh Edition
  • SIST02 2003
  • Turabian Sixth Edition

Fortunately, you will probably only ever need to use APA, MLA, or Chicago citation styles. Did I just hear a huge sigh of relief? 😌 The good news is that witch ever citation style is required of you, the references tab of the ribbon has you covered.

Creating a Citation

By default, The APA citation style will be used unless you change it. To do that, Click on References, then under the Citations and Bibliography group, click Style and choose the style that you would like to use. If you are using the keyboard, press ALT+S to jump to the References tab of the ribbon, then press the letter L, arrow to the style that you want, and press ENTER.

Now to add a citation, just click Insert Citation within the same Citations and Bibliography group. You can also press ALT+S followed by the letter C, then S to jump to the Create New Source dialog box.

From this point out, you simply fill out the form in order to have word format the citation for you. Let me walk you through it.

First you need to select the type of source it is. In our example we’ll choose web site. As we tab through the form, we will be asked to provide several pieces of information to build our citation.

First we’re asked to supply the author of the web site. In this case I’ll use a familiar author… “Casey Mathews.” 😏

We’re then asked to give the name of the web page. For this example, I’ll use “More than 25 Keyboard Shortcuts to Control YouTube.”

Next, we’re asked to provide the name of the web site. I’m going to put “”

Moving on through the form, we have separate boxes for year, month, and day. These boxes are for the date of when the web page was accessed/retrieved. Use numbers, not words, when entering the dates.

Finally, we have the URL. For this example I’m using one of my own articles:

The last item we have in our form is tag name, a special tag that allows you to refer back to this citation later. Word will try and give it a unique name, but feel free to provide your own name that you will be able to remember later in case you need to edit a reference.

Below is my citation from the reference information I entered:

(Mathews, 2019)

As you write your paper, you can continue to add citations in the same manner. If you want to reuse a citation, press ALT+S followed by the letter C, then just arrow down to the citation you want to reuse. It will then be inserted into your paper. Clickers, you will be able to see your existing sources once you click Insert Citation.

Manage References

If you would like to edit or delete a reference, press ALT+S followed by the letter M. You can also click Manage Sources in the same group where you added a reference.

From the Source Manager, you can arrow to a source and then tab to Delete or Edit. When you delete a reference, it will be deleted from all areas in your paper. If you edit a reference, the same form will be shown and you can edit any information about that citation. This edit will update any reference used in the paper wherever it occurs.

Create the Works Sited Page

Now for the grand finale! We are going to take all of your references throughout your paper and get word to organize them all into a works cited page, AKA references page, or if you want the $50-word, bibliography page.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Insert a blank new page into your paper by pressing CONTROL+ENTER.
  2. Press ALT+S followed by the letter B, or click on Bibliography within the same group in the references tab of the ribbon.
  3. Now choose the style of page you want. You can arrow through, or of course click if you’re using the mouse. Your choices are Bibliography, References, or Works Cited. Click or press ENTER on the one you want.

Now you will notice an auto-generated works cited page that is alphabetized and is a thing of beauty, considering the fact that I didn’t have to consult the APA tome to do it!

If you would like to update the works cited page, just press the F9 key from within the contents of the works cited page. Any citations that you added, deleted, or edited will be automatically updated for you.

Now That’s a Paper!

I have to say that I probably would not have made it through college without a tool like this under my flying fingertips. The APA manual made me curse, and I’ve been a changed man ever since. Hopefully this article will help avoid all the frustration I experienced prior to my discovery.


1 thought on “Create References in Record time in Microsoft Word”

  1. Interesting stuff! I wish I had this when I was in college! Before this feature existed, I found writing references was like writing code, but annoying. I used MLA all through my undergrad degree, and actually learned it pretty well… then in grad school I had a few professors who wanted APA, because {reasons}. It’s awesome to see Microsoft took the rocket-science out of documenting references, and it’s even better to see they made the whole process accessible. Very cool! 🙂

What's in your head about what you just read?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.