How to Cite Sources in Microsoft Word: A Guide

Citing sources is crucial when it comes to avoiding plagiarism and validating your work. Microsoft Word has built-in features that make citing sources a breeze. In this quick overview, you’ll learn three easy ways to cite sources in your document, ensuring your writing remains credible and well-referenced.

After completing the action of citing sources in Microsoft Word, your document will contain clear references to the materials you’ve used to support your writing. This not only gives credit to the original authors but also strengthens your work by providing evidence for your arguments.


In the age of information overload, it’s more important than ever to give credit where credit is due. Citing sources in your academic or professional writing is not just a courtesy; it’s a critical part of the writing process that lends credibility to your work and helps you avoid the dreaded consequences of plagiarism. But let’s be honest, citing sources can be a pain, right? Especially when you’re knee-deep in a writing project, and the last thing you want to do is get bogged down by style guides and formatting rules.

That’s where Microsoft Word comes in, with its user-friendly tools for citation management. Whether you’re a student, researcher, or professional, the ability to quickly and accurately cite sources directly within your document is a game-changer. It not only saves you time but also ensures that your citations are consistent and properly formatted according to the style guide of your choice, be it APA, MLA, or Chicago. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how to leverage Microsoft Word’s citation tools and make the process as painless as possible.

Step by Step Tutorial on Citing Sources in Microsoft Word

Before we dive into the steps, let’s get a clear understanding of what we’re about to do. By following these steps, you’ll be able to insert citations into your document, generate a bibliography, and manage your sources all within Microsoft Word. This will streamline your writing process and ensure your sources are correctly cited according to your desired citation style.

Step 1: Access the References Tab

Open the References tab at the top of your Microsoft Word document.

This tab contains all the tools you’ll need for citing sources. It’s your one-stop-shop for everything citation-related in Word.

Step 2: Choose Your Citation Style

Select your preferred citation style from the Style drop-down menu in the Citations & Bibliography group.

Microsoft Word offers a variety of citation styles to choose from, so make sure you pick the one that’s required for your work. This will automatically format your citations according to the rules of that style.

Step 3: Insert a Citation

Click on the ‘Insert Citation’ button and choose ‘Add New Source.’

Once you click this, a dialog box will appear where you can enter the details of your source, such as author, title, and publication date. Microsoft Word will then generate a citation in the format of your chosen style.


Saves TimeMicrosoft Word automates the citation process, significantly reducing the time it takes to manually format each reference.
Ensures AccuracySince Word formats citations according to the selected style guide, it minimizes the risk of errors that could occur when citing sources manually.
Easy Source ManagementMicrosoft Word keeps a record of all your cited sources, making it easy to reuse them in other parts of your document or future projects.


Limited StylesWhile Microsoft Word covers popular citation styles, it may not have every style, particularly specialized ones.
Initial Learning CurveUsers new to Microsoft Word’s citation tools may need some time to familiarize themselves with the features and capabilities.
Potential for InaccuraciesIf source information is entered incorrectly, it can lead to inaccurate citations, despite the automation provided by Word.

Additional Information

While Microsoft Word’s citation tools are incredibly helpful, it’s essential to double-check your work. Remember, technology is not infallible. There may be instances where you need to tweak a citation manually to adhere to specific guidelines or correct an error. Additionally, if you’re working with a citation style that’s not available in Word, you can still use the software to organize your references by choosing a similar style and then adjusting the formatting as needed.

Another pro tip is to make sure you keep your sources organized. As you insert citations, Word creates a source manager that you can access to edit, delete, or add new sources. This tool is especially handy if you’re working on a lengthy document or a project with numerous citations. By staying organized and utilizing the citation tools effectively, you can streamline the process of referencing and focus more on your actual writing.


  1. Access the References Tab
  2. Choose Your Citation Style
  3. Insert a Citation

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Microsoft Word to cite sources for any citation style?

While Microsoft Word supports many common citation styles, it may not cover every style, particularly those that are highly specialized. However, you can often use a similar style and adjust the formatting as needed.

What should I do if I can’t find the citation style I need in Word?

You can try to find a style that is similar and then manually adjust the formatting to meet the requirements of your specific citation style.

Can I edit a citation after I’ve inserted it into my Word document?

Yes, you can edit a citation by clicking on it and then selecting the option to ‘Edit Citation’ or ‘Edit Source’ from the References tab.

How does Microsoft Word help manage my list of sources?

Microsoft Word maintains a source manager where you can add, edit, or delete sources. This makes it easier to manage and reuse sources across your document or in future projects.

Is it possible to create a bibliography in Microsoft Word using my citations?

Yes, Microsoft Word can automatically generate a bibliography based on the citations you’ve inserted into your document.


Citing sources in Microsoft Word is a straightforward process once you get the hang of it. The built-in citation tools are designed to make your life easier, allowing you to focus on the quality of your writing rather than the tediousness of formatting references.

Remember, though, that while the software is a powerful ally, it’s not perfect. Always review your citations for accuracy and adhere to the specific guidelines of your required citation style. With these tips and tricks under your belt, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of citing sources in Microsoft Word.