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Answered By: Suzanne Schriefer, Education & General Education Librarian
Last Updated: Jul 30, 2016     Views: 17523

You can use the Microsoft Word 2013's references feature, but perhaps the better question would be SHOULD you use it?

Rasmussen suggests that you not use Word's references feature unless you really know and understand APA. If you are still learning APA, we advise you to use NoodleBib. Most of our students find it easier to use.

Why? Word 2013 does not "do" APA correctly without a lot of tinkering by you. If you do use Word for reference and citation creation, it is very likely that you will end up with an end product that has formatting errors and missing pieces of information. You will, as a result, lose points on your papers. However, if you know both Word and APA well, you can probably make Word's references feature work nicely.

If you are determined to use Microsoft Word's references feature...we provide some guidance below.


In Word, click on the References tab, the choose Style, and select APA Sixth Edition.

Once you have APA Sixth Edition selected, you can begin creating references by clicking on the Insert Citation button and selecting Add New Source.

Now you can "create a source." Pick the type of source you have (book, journal article, report, website, etc.) and then fill in the required information. Note! This is where Word does not "do" APA correctly. You need to click in Show All Bibliography Fields so you get access to the fields that APA requires.

Word will not tell you which fields you need to fill need to know each field required by APA for each type of resource. Word's Recommended Fields will not give you good results.

  • Example minimum fields (marked with a *) to fill out by medium of source:
    • Book: Author, Year, Title, Edition, City, State, Publisher
    • Journal Article: Author, Year, Month, Day, Article Title, Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Pages, and DOI (or url of journal homepage if there is no DOI).
    • Website: Author, Year, Month, Day, Title of Page and/or Title of Site, Access Date if Appropriate, URL
  • NOTE: you will need to look up each type of source in the Publication Manual (6th edition) or our APA Online Guide to truly know what fields you need to fill out and how.

Once you have your sources entered, you can use the Insert Citation button to add end-of-sentence (parenthetical citations) in your paper by simply selecting the source when you reach the end of each sentence. You will need to add part-of-sentence citations by hand. Remember, part-of-sentence citations are frequently preferred over end-of-sentence citations.  Also note, Word does not seem to always be reducing the number of authors in a 3+ author citation the way it should be after the first use.

Finally, when you are ready to add your References list (by clicking on Bibliography), Word select References.


Pick References and make changes and adjustments to the wording and format. The word References must be centered at the top of the page (don't bold it; we've done that only for emphasis here). You will also likely need to change the font size, type, and color to Times New Roman, 12pt, black font. If your list imported without a hanging indent, you will need to add that. Also, watch titles of webpages as they may appear in italics.

Comments (3)

  1. In order to enter the References for APA, press [ctrl]+[enter] for a manual page break. Center the cursor and type References, then hit [enter]. Now, go to the Bibliography box that lists Bibliography and Works Cited. The second choice from the bottom is Insert Bibliography. This will insert all the sources used in the paper as regular block formatting that matches the rest of the paper. Usually the only change that has to be made is formatting the double-spacing.
    by Kat Blanchard on Oct 30, 2013.
  2. Beautiful, works like a charm! Thank you for taking the time for this extra clarification!
    by SeanD on Aug 24, 2017.
  3. One more thing I needed to do...the text defaulted back to Calibri so I had to set it to Times New Roman 12px.
    by SeanD on Aug 24, 2017.

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