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College is tough enough without spending time trying to figure out how to make your essay meet certain requirements. Microsoft Word offers several features that make writing and formatting your school papers a little easier.

Finding Sources With the Researcher Tool

One task you likely spend time on when creating your essay is research. Rather than jump back and forth between Word and your browser, you can use the built-in Researcher tool.

RELATED: How to Use Researcher in Microsoft Word for Essays and Papers

With it, you can find sources like scholarly articles, websites, images, and similar items you need for your paper. Then, add items, insert quotes, and cite the sources directly from Researcher.

On the References tab, click “Researcher” in the Research section of the ribbon.

Researcher on the References tab

When the sidebar opens on the right, enter your search term and press Enter.

You’ll then see all results for your term provided by Bing. You can review details from journals and websites, select an item to read more, and even add the source directly to your paper.

Researcher tool in Word

Using Smart Lookup and Search

Another handy tool for doing your research in Word is the Smart Lookup or Search tool. Slightly different than Researcher, this search tool helps you find definitions, pronunciations, and basic information for a search term. For certain types of items, you can add a link or citation to your paper. The tool is basically for general searches which can be quite handy.

This is directly to the left of the Researcher button on the References tab. Click the Smart Lookup or Search button to open the sidebar. Then enter your search term into the box at the top.

Search in the References tab

You can use the More drop-down arrow to narrow down the results by web or media. This is helpful for providing you with a definition, popular websites for references, and images or other media for your search term.

Search tool in Word

Depending on the type of item that displays, you can select the plus sign or three dots on the top to cite that source, insert a link, or open the item for full details.

Actions for a searched item

Adding Citations and Bibliographies

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to create citations. You normally need a bibliography to list the sources of your in-text references. Word makes citing your sources and listing them correctly an easy task.

RELATED: How To Automatically Add Citations And Bibliographies To Microsoft Word

Whether you’re required to use MLA, APA, Chicago, or another style for your essay, you can add your citations and bibliography in just a few steps.

To add a citation, go to the References tab and the Citations & Bibliography section of the ribbon. Choose the writing format from the Style drop-down list.

Writing formats in Word

Then, select Insert Citation > Add New Source, enter all the necessary details, and click “OK.” You’ll then see your citation in your text.

Add Citation box in Word

When you’re ready to create the bibliography, place your cursor in the spot where you want it. Select the Bibliography drop-down box on the References tab and choose the one you want to use.

Bibliography types in Word

This automatically creates and formats the bibliography for you per the writing style you selected earlier.

Bibliography in Word

For complete details and additional features, take a look at our dedicated article on citations and bibliographies in Word.

Inserting Hyperlinks

When you add citations and other references to your document, you might need to link to them if they’re on the web. You can easily add hyperlinks to text in your document.

Select the text you want to link and either right-click or head to the Insert tab.

Choose Links > Insert Link and choose “Existing File or Web Page” in the box that appears. Enter or paste a copied URL into the Address box and click “OK.”

Insert Link box in Word

You’ll then see your text linked to your web source.

Linked text in Word

Including Footnotes and Endnotes

If you have notes you want to add to your paper such as a comment or additional information, you can include those details in footnotes and endnotes. This allows you to add the information you need to the bottom of the page (footnote) or end of the section or paper (endnote) without distracting from the main content.

RELATED: How to Use Footnotes and Endnotes in Microsoft Word

To add one or the other, place your cursor in your text where you want the indicator to appear. Go to the References tab and Footnotes section of the ribbon. Choose either “Insert Footnote” or “Insert Endnote.”

Insert Footnote button in Word

You’ll see the superscript indicator where you placed your cursor and be automatically directed to the footnote or endnote to add your details.

Footnote in a Word document

If you want to adjust the format, placement, numbering, or other features, check out our full tutorial on footnotes and endnotes in Word.

Inserting and Numbering Equations

If the type of paper you’re composing is for a math class, you’ll likely need to include equations. With Word, you can add equations formatted correctly and number your inserted equations as well.

RELATED: How to Number or Label Equations in Microsoft Word

To add an equation, you can use the Ink to Math equation editor. Head to the Draw tab and select “Ink to Math.”

Write your equation in the large center area and you’ll see a preview on top. You can use the erase, select and correct, or clear tools as needed.

Ink to Math on the Draw tab

When you finish, click “Insert” to pop the equation into your paper.

If you’re required to number your equations or simply prefer to, you can easily add captions to them. Select an equation, go to the References tab, and pick “Insert Caption” in the Captions section of the ribbon.

Insert Caption button on the References tab

When the Caption box opens, choose “Equation” in the Label drop-down list. Then, select the position or adjust the numbering as needed. Click “OK” to insert the caption.

Including Page or Section Numbers

One more feature of Word that might be a requirement for your essay is numbering. You can include page or section numbers, choose the placement, and make the first page different if you’re using a title page.

RELATED: How to Work with Page Numbers in Microsoft Word

To add page numbers, go to the Insert tab and Header & Footer section of the ribbon. Use the Page Number drop-down menu to select the area of the page and then pick an option for the position of the numbers.

Insert page numbers in Word

To change the pages containing numbers, remove the first page from numbering, and include any other details with the page numbers, open the Header & Footer tab. You’ll see this tab if you double-click in the header or footer where you place your page numbers.

Format page numbers in Word

For details on using section numbers, review our how-to for working with page numbers in Word.

For citing sources, linking to them, doing research, and organizing your paper with page numbers, these Word features should have you off to a great start for your school year.

For more, look at how to change the margins or how to use double-spacing in your Word document.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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