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.


Oh, Matt. You, a Southerner born and bred, should know that age-old saying, "The devil always plays the best tunes." ;-)

Lanette | techsophist

I think I'll hold out for the OpenOffice Bibliographic project (OOoBib). I'll let you MS proprietary software groupies figure out Word ;-)

BTW: Calibri is not going to look so hot for anyone who is not using Word 2007. It's not going to look at all since they won't have the font installed. LOL

Charlie | cyberdash

I'm with you, Charlie. I'll delay the Ooos and ahhs for the open source alternative. For now, though, denial is no more: I kept thinking all this time, nah, Plat Matt's Word fixation is really an elaborate joke, an arch commentary on the hegemony of the Dark Lord. But now I can't but face the truth: In his spare time, our dear colleague not only watches Bill on video, he also truly does luv Bill's lousy verbiage processor. It may be time for an intervention: I've checked, and Wordaholics Anonymous has a St. Cloud chapter. A white panel truck, a couple dedicated techrhetters should do the trick. ;->

Just don't read my blog today, like you ever read it!

bradley ||

I got a beta copy a while back and never bothered to play with it. Out of curiosity, is it just as easy to create End Notes? And do you have to set up your citation style after the fact, or can it be set up as part of a Word Template for the whole document?

Scott Crumpler
Capitalism & Culture Blog

I didn't try to make endnotes, but it is on the same "ribbon" as the references buttons, so I assume it works similarly. I'm not at my desktop right now (working on the iMac next to the AC, ahh) but I'll try it out when I get the chance.

I'm not sure I understand your question about the citation style. You choose what citation style you want from a menu (with about a dozen or so options), and then select from another menu when you want a works cited page or bibliography (one or two options based on the proceeding choice). I know that the new Office is very big on style sheets, but I haven't delved very deeply into it. I was able to easily set up a style for my block quotes, though.

It looks like their system is pretty close to Open Office's when it comes to the style sheets, though, like I said, I'm a definite noob with 2007.

Check out Barton's gaming blog at Armchair Arcade.

Sorry, upon rereading my question about the styles, I can see it wasn't clear. What I was wondering is if it's possible to create a word template that not only saves margins, spacing, fonts, etc. but also the bibliographic style. It seems that would be an excellent way (whether in Word or any word processing program) to ensure that the format of the papers students are assigned to write are consistent from student to student. The instructor could then just make the template file available for download via the class website.

I've been using Open Office pretty much full-time for so long that I'm reluctant to play around with Word '07, but I should probably check it out if the styles setup is a radical departure from '03.

Scott Crumpler
Capitalism & Culture Blog

I never thought of that, but it would be quite handy. On the other hand, I'd hope students could learn to select the right citation style from the menu themselves.

Here is an information sheet about the new features. I also notice that they've got a free add-in that lets you "save as" PDF for 2007. I know that's been a pain for many people (to the point where they've switched to Open Office). Since I avoid PDF files whenever possible, that hasn't been a problem for me. ;-)

Check out Barton's gaming blog at Armchair Arcade.

I think students would learn more, learn how to do things themselves and for themselves, if they created the template. Of course, learning MLA format isn't the most useful thing in the world, but learning how to create a template would be something that could carry over to other classes and situations.

bradley ||

I do teach a general comp course, but research isn't a component of that course, so when I teach research citation, it's within the field of English, so knowing MLA style is important.

Years ago I created a JavaScript-based MLA citation guide, and in that case I didn't try to automate everything, I just tried to get users to focus on one thing at a time, treating the 80 pages of citation examples in Gibaldi's MLA guide much more granularly, so that if you knew what to put for the author and date but didn't know how to deal with the site of publication for your particular source, you could jump to that section. (If you're interested, it's here

Something that I do like about the more complex versions is the ability to switch from, for instance, end notes to footnotes, or MLA style to Chicago style.

The mathematics community has been way ahead of us, with their LaTEX and BibTEX -- which encodes the bibliographical information in the papers, so that any paper published in the field has all the bibliographic and citation information embedded. The main reason for that was the mathematics community's need to present complex equations, which the early mass-market word processors couldn't do at all.

Dennis G. Jerz

Jerz's Literacy Weblog

ANYONE HAVE a solution to this ERROR MESSAGE: The command cannot be complete because the document is locked for editing?

I've been using the reference tool and editing references (or adjusting them to my way of using them) just fine. Today, I can't edit the citations. I mean I can use the "edit citation" feature of the tool; however, I cannot add "e.g.," within the parantheses, as one example. This was working fine but today I keep getting the error message: This command cannot be completed because the document is locked for editing." The document is not locked for editing. I've locked and unlocked and locked and unlocked. I've restarted. It just doesn't let me edit anymore.


Thanks, Deb