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Research Paper Citations Made Easy with Microsoft Word

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Do you panic when you hear the words “research paper”? Faithe Wempen, author of Word 2013 In Depth, explains how Microsoft Word’s Citations feature makes it easy to create correctly formatted bibliographic entries in whatever format you need.
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If you’ve ever taken an academic course that required a research paper (or several), you have probably agonized over how to format the citations. Citations can be a pain in the neck, even for people who write lots of papers. There are many different different standards, each one popular in a different academic discipline, and each one has complicated rules about how to format entries.

Until the last decade or so, there wasn’t an easy way of applying citation formatting. Your best bet was to look up the formatting for a specific resource type on a reference book or on a web site, and then try to duplicate it was best you could. There were word processor add-on apps that could help, but most of them weren’t very good, were expensive, or both.

All that changed, though, with Microsoft Word 2007. Among the many great new features in that version was a Citations & Bibliography tool that changed the way millions of people handled citations. That same feature, with some improvements, has carried over to Word 2010 and 2013 too.

If you’ve been formatting citations manually for your research papers, you’ll be astounded at how easy Word makes it to get the citations right, no matter what citation format your instructor wants you to use.

  • Step 1: Select the desired citation style.
  • Step 2: Enter the sources you want to cite.
  • Step 3: Insert in-text citations.
  • Step 4: Generate the bibliography.

Let’s look at each of those steps in detail, with some examples.

Step 1: Select the Citation Style

If you know the citation style that your instructor expects you to use, you should select it upfront. You can change to a different citation style later, but some of the form fields in step 2 change slightly depending on the style chosen.

To choose a citation format, display the References tab. Open the Style drop-down list and select the desired style. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Select a citation style from the Style drop-down list.

The most common citation styles are these three:

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