Studyhackers: Improving Microsoft Word’s Default APA Referencing

Everyone who has had the pleasure of writing academic texts knows the importance of using proper referencing techniques and formatting. I did all the referencing to my Bachelor’s Thesis by hand, and with that experience still fresh on my mind, I decided to look around for better alternatives for my Master’s Thesis.


Turns out that Microsoft Word has very neat and powerful built-in referencing feature, which supports several different citation standards (including APA, which was our faculty’s choice). However, I soon discovered that although Word lists every reference only once in the automatically generated bibliography, it treats every citation in the text itself as a new and unique entity. Therefore by default it was impossible for me to write as we were instructed by my faculty: “If the original source has three or more authors, all names separated with a comma are written in the first reference: (Jauhiainen, Pirhonen & Silvennoinen, 2009). When referring to the source for the second time, it is enough to write the first author’s name and “etc.”, a comma and the year: (Jauhiainen etc., 2009).

So the first reference can obviously be done, but here’s my workaround for the second one:

  • Right click on the citation and select the “Edit Field” option.
  • For example, if the original citation was this: (Williams, Rana, Dwivedi & Lal, 2011) -> then the citation field would look like this: CITATION Wil11 \l 1035
  • But if you edit it to this: CITATION Wil11 \n \t \l 1035 \f “Williams etc., “ you get (Williams etc., 2011) and the citation still works as a link to the bibliography/list of references in the end of your document.


13-1By using this method you will also have these links to the bibliography when you save your document as PDF. Also, your list of references is not as prone to human error, because when you update its field, it will show you all references you have used and not a single more. As far as I know, similar results can be achieved by some third-party software too, but I just prefer to stick to minimum number of variables with these things.

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