Using BibWord for extended referencing capabilities in Word

What options does a postgraduate student who wants to automate their referencing have? Should they buy an “expensive” RMS program? Should they consider an open source alternative? Or can Word’s citation tool  still make the grade for a thesis or dissertation despite it’s shortcomings?

Enter BibWord. BibWord was developed by Yves Dhondt of MIT in an attempt to overcome some of these limitations to the Word Citations & Bibliography tool. It is downloadable freely from the website (http://bibword.codeplex.com).

Essentially, BibWord allows you to “hotwire” Word’s citation styles and add styles of your own. The tool basically consists of two parts: Firstly, the “end user” tools are for students who just want to use the tools, you will find some extra styles which Yves created on the site. These can be copied to the Bibliography Styles folder on your PC  Also, there is the BibWord Extender which allows for the creation of numerically ordered in-text citations (e.g., when referencing according to the Vancouver referencing style). Secondly, there are the “developer” tools, the BibWord template and the BibType tool, for more advanced users, who wish to develop their own styles. I have, for example, used the BibWord template to develop a (relatively complete) South African Harvard style for Word.

If you want to use the developer set of tools, details can be found on the BibWord site. I will briefly show how to use the BibWord end user tools here.

The first thing to do is to copy the BibWord styles to the Style folder of your Word installation (typically, for Word 2010,
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\Bibliography\Style, and not
C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Bibliography\Style)—you may need administrator access to do this. The figure below shows this folder on my PC (Windows 7, Office 2010, 32-bit), before the BibWord styles were added (i.e., these are the styles provided by Microsoft with Word 2010 SP1 or Word 2007 SP3).

Word-Citation-Styles-folder

Word Citation Styles folder

The styles that are available from the BibWord web page (as at September 2012) are listed in the table below. One more style—HarvardSA.XSL—which I created using the BibWord template, can be downloaded from the examples page.

Referencing Styles Available via BibWord

Style File names
Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT) ABNT_Author.XSL
ABNT_Num.XSL
ABNT_Num_Alt.XSL
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) ACMCitSeq.XSL
ACMNameSeq.XSL
American Medical Society (ACS) ACSCitSeq.xsl
ACSCitSeq2.xsl
American Medical Association (AMA) AMA.XSL
American Sociological Association (ASA) ASA.XSL
Chicago Footnotes (beta – not in zip) CMSFootnote.XSL
Council of Science Editors (CSE) CSECitSeq.XSL
CSENameSeq.XSL
Harvard – AGPS HarvardAGPS.XSL
Harvard – Anglia HarvardAnglia.XSL
Harvard – Exeter HarvardExeter.XSL
Harvard – Leeds HarvardLeeds.XSL
Humana Press Humana.XSL
IEEE IEEE_Alphabetical.XSL
IEEE_Reference.XSL
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) LNCS.XSL
Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) MHRAFootnote.XSL
Nature Nature.XSL
Vancouver Vancouver.XSL

Once these styles have been copied to the Style folder, they will appear in the Style list of the Citations & Bibliography group of the References ribbon, and can be used as described before.

Citation-Style-list-showing-extra-BibWord-styles

Citation Style list showing extra BibWord styles

Note, though, that if the document is opened on another computer which does not have the styles loaded, the Style will display as Unknown, and any attempt to work with the citations or bibliography will result in Word changing the style to the default style for that computer.

BibWord style not found on computer

A last lifeline from Yves is the BibWord Extender, which overcomes two problems with Word’s own referencing system. Firstly, if multiple references are used from the same author(s) in the same year, the convention is to add a date suffix (e.g., 2012a, 2012b, etc.). Word cannot do this. Secondly, while Word can number references in the order they occur in the text (when using numerical referencing styles, of course), Word cannot order the bibliography alphabetically and then assign the numbers in the text accordingly. The BibWord Extender allows both of these possibilities, and it should be noted that the BibWord styles which are suffixed with an asterisk are styles which will benefit from the use of the Extender. Unfortunately, because of the way Word creates citations, making any changes to the references (e.g., adding new sources), may invalidate what has been done by the Extender, requiring it to be rerun. Thus, it is best to use it only when the document has been finalised, and no more changes to the sources will be made. Simply start the tool (it may as for confirmation or an indication of where the bibliography styles are located on your computer), then use the file browser button to load the file to the Word Document text box, and select Extend. Once it has completed, re-open Word, and re-select the same referencing style to force an update of the citation and bibliography fields.

BibWord Extender

A nice touch of this tool, which I recommend you use, is that it first creates a backup of the Word document. The backup is indicated with an “_orig” suffix before the file extension.

Conclusion

So can a thesis be done with this tool? In short, yes. I remain very disappointed by a generally substandard offering from Microsoft, but if you look at the thesis.docx file on the examples page, you will see an example of a thesis that used this for its referencing, and was submitted and accepted. If you’re planning a serious, long-term academic career, then I would say: Don’t waste your time. If you have to do a thesis or even a dissertation so that you can complete your degree and then venture out into the big wide world, then this tool will do the job for you with the minimum of fuss. Just don’t try to add hundreds of references–you will find it becoming unwieldy as you try to manage your references. I suspect that one or two hundred references will be fine, but the more you add, the worse it’s lack of serious sorting, searching and grouping tools will count against it.

Update:

Struggling to view those folders mentioned above to which you need top copy the files? Then read this post: Getting proper access to all the files on your PC

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