Using Word 2007's Reference Tool for Bibliographies
I just got a copy of Office 2007 last week and have finally gotten around to kicking the tires. First off, I must admit that the new interface and default font (Calibri) look much better than the old Times New Roman, which was hopelessly stale. I'm also impressed by how the new interface emphasizes styles; in general, the whole "ribbon" thing is really growing on me. However, what really caught my attention was the "References Button." Has Microsoft finally gotten around to assimilating Endnote? Yes!
The "References" tool works just like it should. You simply hit "INSERT CITATION" when you're ready to pop one in. You can either insert a "placeholder" and put off filling out the fields (author, title, year, etc.) until later, or complete them right away. One small problem here is that you must click the citation when it appears to edit in the page number. There's probably an easier way to do it, but I haven't found it yet.
When you're ready to make your bibliography, just click the "bibliography" button and it does it automatically. You can select among a dozen or so styles, like APA, Chicago, MLA. It's really about as simple as you could hope for.
Unfortunately, it's not perfect. The gurus of Word have decided that MLA works cited pages should be titled with a big blue font on the left hand side, and that titles should be underlined rather than italicized. Now, I've always taught that the title should be the same size and font as the rest of the document, and centered. I know the books say to use underlining, but that's soooo like when we were still using typewriters that I insist students use italics. At any rate, you seem to be locked in to what the Word gurus thought was correct, because I can't find any way to change the template (again, there may be a way I haven't discovered yet). I spent about an hour trying to customize the template, but had no luck. I did find a Microsoft blog discussing the feature at a beta stage, and lots of people were complaining about the italics/underlining issue with Chicago--it got fixed. Maybe the same will follow with MLA?
So, at any rate, it'll be interesting to see what happens if and when students start using this feature. No doubt there will be many discussions like this:
Teacher: "That's not a properly formatted MLA Works Cited page."
Student: "Yes it is. That's the way Word does it."
Will we have to modify our teaching to suit Microsoft? I know I will, yay!!!
P.S. If anyone figures out how to change those templates or make a new one, please, please let me know. I'm running out of leather to bite on.