How to use Microsoft Word's works cited tools: Sources, footnotes, and more

It’s back to school time for millions of college students around the world, and that can only mean one thing: term papers. Soon, your to-do list will be filling up with papers that need to be thoroughly researched and properly referenced. Keeping track of all the sources you used to write your research paper is a lofty task, but fortunately for you, Word 2013 has several built in tools to manage your references.

This guide will show you how to build perfect in-line citations, footnotes, endnotes, and a references page quickly and easily. Roll up your sleeves.

Adding references

When you choose to include a source, such as a journal article, book, or web site in your paper, you’ll want to add that source to your references. Word’s Manage Sources, found in the Citations & Bibliography section of the References ribbon, is your one-stop-shop for managing your references. To add a source, click the Manage Sources button, then click New in the resulting pop-up menu.

2 click on manage sources

Word makes it easy for you to manage all of your references with the Manage Sources tool.

In the new reference section, you’ll first need to choose the type of source you’re adding from the drop-down menu. Depending on the type of source you choose, Word will give you line items for all the fields you’ll need to appropriately cite your reference, and it’ll do it in APA or MLA style. Once you’ve entered information into all of the appropriate sections, click okay and either get back to your paper or add more sources.

5 fill in the fields for each reference

The Manage Sources tool pulls in the appropriate fields to fill in for each type of source available. The book source, for example, yields fields for Author, Title, Year, City and Publisher.

Adding inline citations

As you use material within the body of your paper, you’ll need to add inline citations to properly attribute your material to the original source. Assuming you’ve added your references, simply point your curser to the location you’d like the footnote to go, then click on the Insert Citation button in the Citations & Bibliography section of the References ribbon. In the subsequent dropdown, click on the source you’re referencing, and Word will automatically enter the inline citation at that location.

7 insert citation

Adding inline citations to your paper is as easy as two clicks. Just click the insert citation button, and select your source from the list.

This functionality isn’t perfect, and it’s important to double check your in-line citations to ensure they’re compliant with the applicable style guide. But 99 percent (or more) of the time, Word gets the job done flawlessly.

Adding footnotes and endnotes

Some assignments will require you to add footnotes or endnotes to your paper, and it’s important to know the difference between the two if you’re going to use them appropriately. Footnotes are notes that occur at the end of each individual page within your paper, while endnotes appear only on the final page and are often used in lieu of a references page. When in doubt, ask your professor about which type of citations are appropriate for a given assignment.

Regardless of whether you use footnotes or endnotes, Word makes it incredibly easy to add these to your paper. You can add footnotes or endnotes in the Footnotes section in the References ribbon, but be sure to place your cursor where you'd like the superscripted number referencing the footnote to appear before clicking on the tools.

1 adding footnotes and endnotes

Everything you need to add footnotes and endnotes to your paper can be found in the Footnotes section of the References tab.

For footnotes, click on the Insert Footnote button, then type in either your reference or add notes and supporting materials. To navigate between footnotes within your paper, simply click on the Next Footnote button. To add endnotes, click on the Insert Endnote button and add your notes and/or citations.

6 footnote example

Here’s what your footnotes will look like within your Word document. (Click to enlarge.) 

For either option, you can also use the Insert Citation button in the Citations & Bibliography section (covered in the previous section) to add appropriate references to your footnote or endnote.

Insert a proper bibliography

Before Word 2007 added a References section, adding a bibliography was an arduous, manual task that was often one of the worst parts of completing a research paper. Now, adding a bibliography to your paper is as simple as two mouse clicks.

3 bibliography drop down

The bibliography automatically adapts to the style guide you choose in the Style dropdown, and you can set the title to bibliography, references, or works cited.

In the Citations & Bibliography section of the References ribbon, click on the Bibliography drop down menu to pull up the three options for a bibliography. Stylistically, all three options look identical with the exception of the heading, since different fields of study can’t seem to agree on what to call the bibliography.

Depending on the requirements for your particular paper, choose either the bibliography, references, or works cited type of bibliography to add it to the end of your paper. Each option will be perfectly referenced according to the style guide you choose in the style drop-down menu.

4 example references page

This is what the finished references section will look like. You’ll probably need to insert a page break before the references page to ensure it’s always the last page of your document.

If you add references into your paper after you insert the bibliography, click on the Update Citations & Bibliography button at the top of the References page. The button will appear once you mouse over the word “References.” Reselecting the Style option will also refresh your bibliography's sources.

The only other thing you may need to do is insert a page break immediately before the references to ensure it’s always on the last page of your document. You can do this by clicking Page Break in the Pages section of the Insert ribbon.

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