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Sound Writing

Subsection 12.1.3 Formatting Reference Lists, Bibliographies, and Works Cited

Whether you are writing using APA, Chicago, or MLA citation style, you will most likely be required to include a reference list, bibliography, or works cited (respectively) at the end of your paper. While keeping track of your sources and writing up references can be a daunting task (see Chapter 8 and Section 12.2 for some very helpful tricks), formatting them using a word processor is actually less painful than it might seem. We won’t go into the specific details of each citation style (again, see Chapter 8 for this), but we will talk about how to create hanging indents and how to format each source list using Word.
I used to have to tab over a million times to try to create hanging indents in my works cited—until I learned this method, and my life literally changed. To create a reference list, bibliography, or works cited page using hanging indents, begin with centering a References (or Bibliography or Works Cited, depending on what citation style you’re using) title at the top of your page and entering your first citation beneath it (remember to keep everything double-spaced in APA and MLA and single-spaced with a blank line after each entry in Chicago).
This image shows a screenshot of a word document works cited. Three citations are listed, each in a new paragraph, but with no indentations.
Next, place your cursor at the very beginning of the second line of your citation, right-click, and select the “Paragraph” option.
This screenshot is the same document shown in the previous image. The cursor has right-clicked at the second line of the first paragraph. In the right-click menu, the option reading "paragraph" is selected.
In the “Indentations” category, change the “Special:” option to “Hanging.” When you do this, the “By:” should automatically change to 0.5" (and if it doesn’t, increase it to 0.5"). Click “OK” . . .
This is a screenshot of the "paragraph" menu options. The second section of the menu is titled "Indentation." On the right-hand of this section, next to "Special," the option "Hanging" is selected in the drop-down menu.
. . . and your source magically scoots over half an inch, creating a hanging indent!!
This image shows the same word document screenshotted in the first image in this section. Now, all of the sources have "hanging" indentations: the first line is not indented, but the second line and any subsequent lines are indented.
But what’s really nice about this feature is that you only need to set a hanging indent for the first citation; all subsequent citations will automatically indent over to mirror the hanging indent of Source A.