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Using Microsoft Word 2010’s References Feature (for Students)

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Writing essays can be a very daunting task. Brainstorming, drafting, researching, and referencing can sometime be unmanageable. Microsoft Word 2010’s reference function is a good productivity tool to manage citations and bibliography.

In this article we will show you how to create a reference list using Word 2010. We will also show you how to share you reference with your peers and how to create your own customized reference style.

Creating References

Microsoft Reference function is accessible from the reference tab.

Word 2010 comes with a list of default referencing style. Choose the referencing style that you want to use.

Click on the ‘Insert Citation’ button to open the add citation window.

Word 2010 allow us to add different source type such as ‘Journal Article’ for our essay.

Click on the insert citation button to view a list of your citation and click any of them to create an inline citation in your essay.

You can create a bibliography page by clicking on the ‘Bibliography’ button.

Sharing Your Reference List

Microsoft Word 2010 save your references under %APPDATA%MicrosoftBibliographySources.xml. Open your command line and type echo %APPDATA%. This will show you where windows store your APPDATA. In my case Microsoft Word 2010 store my reference list under
C:UserszainulAppDataRoamingMicrosoftBibliographySources.xml. Remember that this file will not exist unless you create a reference list.

You can copy this XML file to use your references in different computers. You can also copy other references into this XML file. We advise that you should back up Source.xml file periodically so you will not loose your reference list.

To merge other references into your reference list just copy any entry inside the <b:source> into the other Source.xml file. Just make sure that the <b:Tag> contains a unique value.

Creating Custom Reference Style

We can create our own referencing style by creating custom XSL files under ‘C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice14BibliographyStyle’. For those with exceptional XSL skills you can read Microsoft Word 2010 blog to learn how to create custom referencing style.

One of the challenge in creating our own XSL file for Microsoft word is that the XSL file itself is quite complicated and it might just be more productive to download a set of custom reference style from bibword and place the content of the zip file under ‘C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice14BibliographyStyle’ and restart your Microsoft Word. You should see some new reference style from your Word 2010.


Microsoft Word 2010 is a great editor that can help you to save time in creating references and citations. Microsoft Word 2010 Reference function is customizable and allows you to share your references with others.

Zainul spends his time trying to make technology more productive, whether it’s Microsoft Office applications, or learning to use web applications to save time.

  • Published 08/24/10

Comments (44)

  1. don kandlbinder

    What an advancement over Word 2007, thank you Microsoft!

  2. Zainul Franciscus

    Hi Don,

    Microsoft has definitely made a lot of improvement in office 2010. You can also try our bibliography and citation how to with office 2007.

  3. Melissa Karnaze

    I can’t stand manually creating references! This will definitely come in handy, thanks Zainul!

  4. Zainul Franciscus

    Anytime Melissa. Good Luck with your Essay !

  5. Osama Sayeed

    Thank God!! All this time I used to make drafts and work over them again and again. Thanks Zainul for such an awesome post.:)

  6. Matthew Guay

    If you’re a student, don’t forget that you can get Office 2010 for just $79 … check out our article on Essential Back to School Apps on How-to Geek for more info on that and other student discounts:

  7. jazii

    window vista

  8. Robin

    I can’t get this to work.

    Copied the files in to a slightly different location on Office student 2010, My style files are in a different place:

    ‘C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice12BibliographyStyle’ where all the other standard styles appear, but it doesn’t pop up in Word.

    Any advice?

    Windows 7, Office 2010 student edition

  9. Cody

    I fail to see how this is any different from the citation feature of Word 2007…

  10. Nick

    How would you integrate this with footnoting for those subjects where in line referencing isn’t allowed?

  11. Zainul Franciscus

    Hi Robin,

    We do not have a student edition but that should not stop us from troubleshooting the problem. There is a possibility that Bibword’s template is not compatible with the student edition. But before we conclude that, why don’t we do some verification and validation first regarding the existing template that word uses.

    1. Open C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice12BibliographyStyle
    2. Pick one of the reference XSL file that you do not use very often.
    3. Cut and paste it into a different folder, e.g: ‘My Document’.
    4. Restart your word.
    5. We expect that that particular reference style will not be displayed under the ‘References’ style anymore. If this is really the case perhaps the student edition does not support Bibword’s XSL file. Another alternative is to create the style from scratch by following Microsoft tutorial.

  12. Zainul Franciscus

    Hey Nick,

    An interesting point. We’ll try what we can do and if we can find a solution we’ll write either reply here, or turn it into another tutorial in our article.


  13. john Schoppert

    How can I change the reference style of APA fifth edition to the newer sixth edition on the word 2010, is there a way without building a doc from scratch?
    thanks in advance,
    John Schoppert

  14. Zainul Franciscus

    Hi John,
    bibword is the only reference style that we found so far to extend Word’s referencing. Although they are not accepting request for referencing style, they are releasing new reference style templates

  15. Suzannah

    Just a small rant:

    I cant believe that Office 2010 has been beta’d and release without adding this feature to the student-centered, note-taking centered, web clipping centered, main-word-processing-drafting-tool ONENOTE. I cant believe the References tool does not cross over into OneNote. It dumbfounds me.

  16. Amy

    What are you using to edit your *.xml file in the explanation above? It looks pretty and I want to use it too!

  17. zfranciscus

    @Amy Hi, that screen capture is actually a screen capture of Internet Explorer. You may want to try out Microsoft XML Notepad if you’re using windows. Cheers

  18. ozan

    instead just take a look at: MENDELEY
    you won’t regret…

  19. Joe

    I’ve had problems getting the Citations and Bibliography to work In Word. It was greyed out on my version of Office 2010. I tried a couple of things to get it to work and it didn’t work, until I finally uninstalled and reinstalled the product again. Microsoft helped me with that two links that they told me about. I had it done in about an hour. Now it all works great.

  20. Tony Cicchetti

    HOWHOWHOW PLEASE HELP. I made my own references, how do I insert them into a footnote?!?! all this automated stuff is crap for me right now, its much longer.
    So how do I get all my references to be put into footnotes and it doesn’t repeat at every page?!?!

  21. Irine

    How should I display a referencies page, at the end of the essay?

  22. Falcon

    Dear Sir

    is there any feature in Word 2010 that can help me to call my reference(s) in between text?
    for example, in journal papers they use “[1]” or “(John 2000)”.

    many thanks

  23. Question


    Has anyone noticed that the placeholder’s do not automatically update? You would think that once you went back and updated your reference that this would automatically update in your document. Is this a personal computing flaw or a design problem on Microsoft’s end? I’m guessing it’s the former!! Any help would be really appreciated!


  24. kamal

    i need to insert in my doc citation as aaaa et al (2009)..and bibliographic list explain it as long …..kamal, a., jone, b., alex, c., (2009)………etc.

    how to do that..I use Microsoft word 2010..lisen version..but i am unable to find the option for that..

    an here u show that many difference style to make a list, but in my word doc show very few option..why is that?

  25. Mike

    Thanks bibword, you have made microsoft word’s referencing system somewhat tolerable. As opposed to the stupid pre-packaged MLA and APA standards that no scientific journal would ever ever ever use.

    The IEEE reference order standard is acceptable for scientific works.

  26. sky

    very useful!!

  27. how is it easier for referencing? it doesnt save italics and or footnotes when u cut and paste! hardly an improvement

  28. Hakob

    OK, now we have the bibliography automatized. Very good. Thanks Microsoft.
    But how about actual citations? If I have a book, say, Laudan, L. (1983). Science and Values in my bibliography and then decide to insert a citation – I know how to. But what if I realize after the fact that it was actually not 1983, but 1984? Ok, I modify this info in bibliography. This is all automatized – perfect. But how about the actual citations? What if I referred to this book 100 times? Should I correct every instance manually?
    I believe the solution is that citations should be some kind of a special object (like TOC entries, for instance). The system should understand that this particular piece of text is actually a reference to the bibliography entry and make all necessary adjustments once the information in the bibliography itself is modified. So when I change 1983 to 1984, all my citation entries should update automatically. Consequently citation items should not be manually alterable. There should be some more sophisticated mechanism of citing with a special form that would ask such things, as page numbers, chapters, etc. and form the resulting text automatically. I don’t think this is difficult to do.


  29. Grass


    Okay, how is this supposed to work with Windows 2010 if it doesn’t even include the Reference tab? I am a student and I really need to enter bibliographies but I have no clue how to make them on Microsoft Word 2010. I know how to make bibliographies on Microsoft Word 2007 but just not Microsoft Word 2010. I would really appreciate the help if I get any.


  30. Recerroulge


  31. Question

    Thanks so much for the great info.

    Just a question, I’m using the APA style and whenever i convert a citation to plain text (since I prefer to have just the year of the reference in brackets as opposed to the year and author) it disables spell check for the rest of the document and as I type it stops picking up spelling errors.

    Is there any way to get around this?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated as I’m just getting started on my dissertation. Thanks

  32. Rafi

    uh that’s much better than the MS Word 2007 tedious method !

    Way to go Word (or shall I say Electronic pencil ?! ^_^ )

  33. mike

    it seems from what I’ve seen that this is still stuck with apa 5th. 6th has been out for over a year and is the standard from which most researchers are writing. and the new intellect is required to use. So what is the answer?

  34. cindi

    Could someone please tell me how to add the get started tab to microsoft office 2010, I know how to get to it, but it is grayed out?

  35. JimT

    Hi there!

    This really sounds as if a silly question, especially when being asked about Windows Home & Student 2010 Word Processor, but I have looked high and low, and (can you believe it), I cannot find an easy manner to ensure page # 1 is left off the page, so the counting starts with page # 2. Only this year, I purchased Microsoft Word 2010, because I had bought a New Computer to bring in Windows7 with it, and so thought I would really splash my credit card with a little more.

    Having always used WordPerfect with so problems like this one, I love WORD, but this is the only trouble I cannot find the answer to within the software: All I would like to know, is how to leave no page numbering at all, on page # 1? Please email the answer, and I thank you for your helping me a good deal. Thanks, JimT

  36. jochem

    To update all citations between text, select all text in your document (Ctrl-A) and then press F9 to update all references.

  37. ABBAS

    کارت درسته
    خیلی خوب بود

  38. Miu

    Does anyone know how to have the bibliography insert as a List with No.1, No 2…
    The current version when I inserted only display the names….I found it hard to follow up in the text with names without number reference. Any idea?

  39. Imran

    Can anybody tell me how to convert my existing references style into APA style formatting without writing it again .. Please reply my research paper is waiting for just this one requirement for international conference.

    I will be thankful to you.

    Just email me.
    Imran laghari

  40. Deidre Berry

    I noticed that when creating the bibliography in APA style in word 2010, that if you have more than one name in the citation, it will only list the first name in the bibliography.Is there a way to fix this?

  41. Maria

    Can someone explain this to me in a way that I can understand it? I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. As I followed the instructions, a lot of the features didn’t work or didn’t have next steps. And the sharing…..Lord!! Useless. I do them faster by hand.

  42. Nancy

    Am I to understand that the reference citation feature only creates in-text citations, not footnotes, as required by Turabian/Chicago? I like the bibliography feature and the in-text citation (good for APA), but what about those of us who have to do footnotes? Nothing for us?

  43. masshal

    hi zainul! i have a problem…for some really messed up reason my microsoft office 2010 doesn’t seem to have a reference tab at the top…all i have is file, home, insert, page layout and mailing!!! i NEED to reference for school and i have no idea how to go about it!! please help ASAP thanks!

  44. Gary D. Collier

    My Word 2010 bibliography worked great for awhile, and then at some point (I don’t know when), it will only return the message: “There are no sources in the current document.” When I click on the Manage Sources button in the ribbon, all of the sources appear just as I entered them in both columns. However, there is no check mark in the right column. In the preview box at the bottom, every source reads: Invalid Source Specified. Every Bibliography Entry says: There are no sources in the current document. When I click on the Insert Citation button in the ribbon, all of the sources are listed, just as I typed them in. However, whichever one I choose just gives me the same messages as above. Source.xml is right where it is supposed to be.

    Yeah, I’m very impressed with MS Word 2010. A piece of junk if there ever was one. Any suggestions on how I can get all of that work I did typing in the bibliography info into my book?

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