How to Create Your Own Bibliography Template in Microsoft Word

512241 How to Create Your Own Bibliography Template in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word allows you to create custom bibliography styles that can be saved as templates for reuse in your documents. This tutorial will walk you through the process step-by-step.

Overview of Custom Bibliography Styles

The bibliography styles in Word (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) are defined using XML style sheet (.xsl) files. By editing these files in a text editor, you can customize the output format of citations and bibliographies to meet your specific needs.

Benefits include:

  • Consistent formatting across documents
  • No need to manually edit each bibliography
  • Customize look and content as needed

Once created, custom styles can be saved in the C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Bibliography\Style folder and will appear in Word’s bibliography style dropdown menu for easy reuse.

Step 1: Copy an Existing Style to Edit

To start, make a copy of an existing style file, like CHICAGO.XSL to use as a base template for your edits.

Why start with an existing file?

  • Provides overall XML structure
  • Contains templates for common formatting
  • Easier than coding a style sheet from scratch

The specific file contents will be covered more in step 3.

Step 2: Edit the XSL File in a Text Editor

Next, open your copied .xsl file in a text editor like Notepad or Notepad++. The file contents use XML syntax to define the style.

Here’s a high-level overview of what you’ll see:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="" xmlns:msxsl="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt" xmlns:b="">



This shows:

  • XML declaration
  • Opening stylesheet tag
  • XSL namespace references
  • Container for actual style definitions

You will edit the contents of the stylesheet element to customize the output.

Step 3: Define Bibliography Output Format

The main customization happens within XML templates that define how citations and bibliography entries should be formatted.

For example:



This maps the `Source` node to output the author's last name and year in paragraph tags.

You can create templates for:

- Entire bibliography
- Individual entries 
- Citations
- Author names
- Titles
- Publication details
- And more

Use XML path expressions like `b:Author/b:Year` to pick output elements, and add HTML or text formatting.

**Key Points**

- Match different XML nodes
- Output content and formatting
- Use conditionals and rules

## Step 4: Save the Style to the Styles Folder

After defining your custom style in the XSL file, save it to: 


Where `%username%` is your Windows user account name.  

This makes the style available to choose from the bibliography dropdown in Word (see step 6).

**Naming Convention**

Save your file using a descriptive name with an `.xsl` extension. Avoid spaces. 

**Good Example**

My Custom Style.xsl

**Bad Example**

MyStyle With Spaces.xsl

Step 5: Restart Microsoft Word

For Word to recognize your new style, you need to restart the application.

When opened again, you will be able to access the style from the bibliography dropdown.

Step 6: Apply Your Style in Word

To use your custom xsl style in Word:

  1. Place cursor where you want bibliography
  2. Go to References tab
  3. Click Bibliography dropdown
  4. Choose your new style

This will insert the bibliography using your formatting rules.

As you insert citations, the bibliography will also update automatically.

Saving as a Reusable Template

Rather than applying your style manually each time, you can save it as a template for quick access.

After inserting a bibliography using your custom style:

  1. Click inside the bibliography
  2. Go to References tab
  3. Click Save Selection to Bibliography Gallery
  4. Give template a name
  5. Check Automatically Update

Now your template will be available in the bibliography dropdown for easy reuse!

Additional Tips

  • View Word’s built-in style sheets for examples
  • Validate XML markup using an online tool
  • Use conditionals and rules for advanced logic
  • Store sources in a master XML bibliography file
  • Compare to editing existing styles like APA

This covers the overall process of creating and using a custom bibliography style in Word. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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