Whether you are a high school student working on a research paper for an English class, a college student writing a final thesis, or a professional in any line of work creating an article for a project, writing a bibliography is something most people will have to do at least once in their lives. Bibliographies require a very particular format that can often be confusing and difficult to recreate in a word processor. This article will give you some tricks to ease the frustration of creating a bibliography in MLA format (the most commonly used format) through the use of Microsoft Word and some extremely helpful online sources.
If you are at all familiar with the MLA bibliographical format, you know that there is a particular ordering and structure that depends on what the source is. For example, the generic format for a book is this: Author’s last name, first name. Book title . Additional information. City of publication: Publishing company, publication date. This format varies if the source is something different, such as a webpage, newspaper article, or encyclopedia. To bypass that confusing maze, many people use free online bibliography generators such as EasyBib or BibMe. With these, you simply fill in the form of information and click ‘cite,’ and an already formatted citation will be generated. From there you can copy the citation to your computer’s clipboard and paste directly into Word.
It is not rare for teachers or professors to require a specific font and font size, and often when you copy and paste a citation like this it will not match up. A little box will pop up below the pasted material, which you can click on to choose between “Keep Source Formatting” and “Match Destination Formatting.” The default is often the first of these options, which is why the font and size will likely be different. You can choose to manually switch it to the second option with each citation you paste in, or you can change the default (Windows) or use a different keyboard shortcut (Mac) to bypass this and save yourself time. On windows, change the default by clicking the ‘Office’ button, going to ‘Word Options’ and then to ‘Advanced’ and choosing the default setting you want under the ‘Cut, Copy and paste’ heading. On a Mac, simply use the shortcut Command+Option+Shift+V to paste instead of simply Command+V.
Another part of the bibliography format that commonly causes problems for people is the indentation style. The whole paragraph of each citation has to be indented, except for the first line . This is called a hanging indent, and is something you can set so that you don’t need to do it manually with each source you add. To do this, click ‘Format’ at the top and then click ‘Paragraph.’ There will be an ‘Indentation’ heading with a drop down menu under the word ‘Special’ in which you can choose ‘Hanging.’
Creating a bibliography has the potential to be a formatting nightmare, but by understanding these simple tricks, you can save yourself a lot of trouble in getting it just the way it needs to be.