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Research Guides

Citing Sources: Formatting in Word and Google

This guide offers resources to help you document the sources you're citing in your research papers and projects.

Introduction

1. Introduction

Perhaps you already know how to structure your citations for your reference list or bibliography according to a particular style. But now you need the references to be formatted correctly in your document. Or perhaps you need to add footnotes and page numbers. While each style has their own specific requirements, most follow similar formatting structures within the document itself. This tutorial will briefly show you how to use different tools to correctly format and align the different elements of your document in both Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

For more detailed questions and answers you can search the Microsoft Word Help & Learning page or the Google Docs Help Center through the links provided here.

Microsoft Word Format

2. Formatting References in Microsoft Word

Many citation styles require that references be located at the end of a document, single spaced, with hanging indentation. Some instructors prefer active hyperlinks in references while others prefer them removed. Some styles require you to add footnotes or endnotes. This section will show you how to do some of the most common formatting requirements in Word. 

For more information and greater detail, you can go to the Microsoft Word help & learning webpage through the link in the introduction to this tutorial. Type your question into the search bar for detailed instructions. 


There are many helpful video tutorials on how to maximize Microsoft Word when working on your document. Below are a few to help get you started if you are new to Word, or if you want to pick up some new tips and tricks!

Single or Double Spaced

Some styles require the entire document, including references, to be double spaced, while some instructors are okay with references being single spaced even if the document itself is double (to save on space and paper). If you did not already adjust the spacing when you first started the document, you can:

  • Highlight the section you wish to change, and then
    • either click on the expansion icon in the Paragraph section of the toolbar, or
    • right click and choose Paragraph in the popup menu. Both will bring up a Paragraph tool box.

 

  • Here, you can activate the Line Spacing drop down menu, and choose which type of spacing you would prefer for that section.

Hanging Indentation

Citation styles like APA, MLA and Chicago all want references to have hanging indentation. This means that the first line of the reference is aligned all the way to the left, but each subsequent line is indented. If you have not already started your reference section with hanging indentation, you can easily adjust it.

  • First, highlight the section you wish to change, and as in the previous example, open up the Paragraph tool box. 
  • Here, in the indentation section, click on the Special dropdown menu and select Hanging.
  • This will automatically change the indentation of each individual reference (just be sure you have a returned space in between each on so they are clearly separated). 

Changing Hyperlinks

In Word, the software will often automatically make a hyperlink live, meaning it will turn blue, and if someone clicks on it, it will take them to the item online through a browser. Sometimes instructors do not want these to be live, so you will need to make sure they are deactivated. To do this:

  • Hover the mouse over the hyperlink and then right click.
  • In the popup menu, click on Remove Hyperlink.
  • This should turn off the link and you will no longer be able to use the link. 
  • You may still need to change the color of the text back to gray/black.

Insert Page Numbers, Headers and Footers

You may need to add page numbers or a header/Footer to your paper.

  • In the top Tool Bar, click on tab for Insert.
  • Towards the right is a box labeled Header and Footer.
  • This also containers the option for page numbers.

  • You can click on Header or Footer and choose from a variety of styles. They can be edited to fit your class requirements.
  • The dropdown menu for page numbers also gives you style and placement options, as well as the ability to modify when pagination begins and any necessary breaks. 

Footnotes and Endnotes

When you decide that you need to add a footnote or endnote, the process is pretty much the same for either type of entry.

  • First, place the cursor in the place in your document where you want the number.
  • Go back up to the Tool Bar and click on the References tab.
  • The second section in the bar is where you will find the tools to add footnotes/endnotes.

You can:

  • Click on Insert Footnote or Insert Endnote. It will add the superscript number to your text. It will also create a space at the bottom of the page or end of the document for your note and automatically move your curser there to enter the information.
  • If you want to modify the style or numbering system, you can click the small expansion button on the bottom right of the note section to bring up the Footnote and Endnote popup editing box.
  • This is probably a good place to start when you first begin using your footnotes or endnotes. 

  • Still have questions or have run into difficulties with formatting?
    • If you take your cursor and hover it over the Insert Footnote, a information box will appear with a link to Word Help (? Tell me more).
    • This will provide you with more information, as well as an opportunity to search for more specific questions.

Google Docs Format

3. Formatting References in Google Docs

Many citation styles require that references be located at the end of a document, single spaced, with hanging indentation. Some instructors prefer active hyperlinks in references while others prefer them removed. Some styles require footnotes or endnotes. This section will show you how to use Google Docs to make these changes in your document and reference list.

For more information and greater detail, you can go to the Google Docs Help Center webpage through the link in the introduction to this tutorial. Type your question into the "Describe your issue" bar at the very top of the page for detailed instructions. 


Google Docs does offer its own Citations generator under the Tools tab.

Clicking on Citations will bring up a sidebar on the right where you can input the information about your source to generate a reference that can be used for footnotes, in-text citations, and a bibliography/reference list. However, only 3 citation styles are supported - MLA (8th), APA (7th), and Chicago Author-Date (17th).

Single or Double Spaced

Some styles require the entire document, including references, to be double spaced, while some instructors are okay with references being single spaced even if the document itself is double (to save on space and paper). If you did not already adjust the spacing when you first started the document, you can:

  • Highlight the section that you want to adjust.
  • Click on the Format tab.
  • Click on Line Spacing

 

  • Here, you can choose which type of spacing you would prefer for that section as well as the type of spacing you want to automatically put in place before or after a paragraph. 

Hanging Indentation

Citation styles like APA, MLA and Chicago all want references to have hanging indentation. This means that the first line of the reference is aligned all the way to the left, but each subsequent line is indented. If you have not already started your reference section with hanging indentation, you can easily adjust it. 

  • Highlight the references that you want to adjust. You can do all of them at the same time.
  • Click on the Format tab
  • Select Align & Indent
  • Then select Indentation options

  • A popup menu will appear
  • Choose Special Indent
  • Select Hanging and Apply. This will change all of your highlighted references into Hanging Indentation form.

  • Occasionally, if you had other forms of formatting in that section of the document, you may need to enter "0" (zero) in the Left and Right boxes before the Hanging indentation will work.

Changing Hyperlinks

In Google Docs, the software will often automatically make a hyperlink live, meaning it will turn blue, and if someone clicks on it, it will take them to the item online through a browser. Sometimes instructors do not want these to be live, so you will need to make sure they are deactivated. There are two ways to do this:

One
  • Left click your cursor anywhere in the hyperlink. A small box will popup below the link.
  • Click on the small chain link with the link through it all the way on the right.
  • This will deactivate the link, turn the text back to gray, and you will no longer be able to use the link without copy and pasting it into an address bar.

Or Two
  • Right click anywhere in the link with your cursor. 
  • A more detailed menu box will pop up.
  • Toward the bottom, you can find the chain link symbol with the line through it. Click on it to remove the link.

Insert Page Numbers, Headers and Footers

You may need to add page numbers or a header/footer to your paper.

Page Numbers
  • Select the Insert tab at the top of the tool bar.
  • Scan down and select Page numbers.
  • A small pop-out box will appear on the right with some of the primary numbering styles.
  • You can select one of these, chose from other options, and modify the numbering.


Headers and Footers
  • Select the Insert tab at the top of the tool bar.
  • Scan down and select Headers & Footers.
  • You can select either Header or Footer.

  • A header or footer will appear at the top or bottom of your paper, and you can click your cursor into it to add your information. 
  • To modify the style, click on Options.
  • You can also designate for numbering to start after the first page if your report style requires a title or cover page.

  •  

Footnotes and Endnotes

 When you decide that you need to add a footnote to either add information or provide a reference:

  • First, place the cursor in the place in your document where you want the number to appear.
  • Go back up to the Tool Bar and click on the Insert tab.
  • Scan down through the menu and click on Footnotes.

 

  • A footnote with the matching number will open at the bottom of the page and your cursor will be moved there automatically for you to enter your citation or other information.