How to Use the Citation Tools in Google Docs
  • 3-minute read
  • 14th April 2021

How to Use the Citation Tools in Google Docs

The citation tools in Google Docs make adding citations and references in an essay or business report much simpler. In this post, we will look at how these tools work.

Adding a Citation in Google Docs

Google Docs has a handy set of tools for adding citations to a document if you are using APA, MLA, or Chicago author–date referencing. To access these tools, go to Tools > Citations on the menu system at the top of your browser.

Accessing the citation tools in Google Docs.

This will open a new sidebar where you can add any sources you want to cite in your work, after which you can add citations at the click of a button. To add a source:

  1. Select a referencing style and click Add citation source.
  2. Next, select a source type and how you accessed it.
  3. Add details for the author(s) and all relevant contributors.
  4. Under this, enter all the details required for your source (e.g. the title, publication details, a URL or DOI for online sources).
  5. When you are done, click the Add citation source button at the bottom.

Your source will now appear in the Citations sidebar. To add an in-text citation, simply select where you want to add the citation, then hover the cursor over the source you want to cite and click the Cite button.

Adding a citation.

This will add a citation in the text. You can then edit it as required (e.g. to replace the ‘#’ symbol with page numbers, or to avoid duplicating the author’s name).

A citation added via the Google Docs tools.

Editing or Deleting Sources

If you need to correct or amend any source details, or even delete a source completely from your list, you can do this via the Citations sidebar as well. Simply:

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  1. Go to Tools > Citations to open the sidebar.
  2. Hover the cursor over the source you want to edit or delete.
  3. Click the three dots next to the Cite button, then:
    • Choose Edit to open the source details. Update any information here as required, then click Save Source.
    • Choose Delete to remove the source from the list completely.

Next, we will look at generating a reference list in Google Docs.

Editing source details.

Generating a Reference List or Bibliography

Google Docs’s citation tools also make it easy to generate a reference list for your work. To do this, first make sure you have added all sources via the process above. Then, when you are ready, you can generate a reference list as follows:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to add a reference list.
  2. Open the Citations sidebar via the menu system.
  3. Go to the bottom of the list of sources, then click Insert Bibliography.

This will add a reference list containing all the sources you have added in the place selected. The tool will automatically title this list ‘Bibliography’, so make sure you change it to the correct title for your referencing system if required (e.g. ‘References’ for APA style or ‘Works Cited’ for MLA).

References added via the citation tools.

Proofreading Citations and References

The citation tools in Google Docs can be a great time saver. However, it is still easy to miss out information from citations and references, or format them incorrectly, so you should be careful when using these tools to write a report or essay.

Always make sure your references match the format set out in your chosen style guide. To help ensure your work is error free, though, you can get it proofread. Sign up for a free trial of our academic proofreading services today to find out more.

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