How to add citations in a Google Doc (2023)

by Andy Wolber in Software


How to add citations in a Google Doc

Students and teachers may be glad that Google Docs now includes a citation tool, but professional researchers might seek more robust citation management options.

How to add citations in a Google Doc (2)

On the web, Google Docs includes the ability to add citations in three different formats for five different resource types. When active, the citation tool appears in a side panel with a series of relevant resource fields to be filled out. For students not familiar with academic citation standards, the built-in citation tool helps reinforce how important it is to be aware of the author, publication date, and publisher of works.

The following sections cover how to add and site resources, as well as how to insert a bibliography in a Google Doc. You may cite any added sources in your Google Doc. Near the end of this post, you’ll also find a few third-party citation management tools that allow you to track and cite sources across multiple documents.

SEE: Google Sheets: Tips and tricks (TechRepublic download)

How to add citation sources in a Google Doc

With a Google Doc open in your web browser:

1. Select Tools, then Citations. The Citations side panel will display to the right of your Google Doc (Figure A).

(Video) Google Docs: Adding Citations & Bibliography

Figure A

How to add citations in a Google Doc (3)

2. If needed, use the drop-down menu to modify the citation format.

The system supports three citation formats (as of mid-October 2020):

  • MLA (Modern Language Association), often used in the humanities;
  • APA (American Psychological Association), typically used in education and social sciences; and
  • Chicago Author-Date (University of Chicago), generally used in history and the sciences.

3. Select + Add Citation Source.
4. Adjust the Source type drop-down menu to match your cited material:

  • Book
  • Book section
  • Website
  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article

5. If needed, adjust the Accessed By options:

  • Print
  • Website
  • Online database

6. Enter as many details as possible about your source material into the data fields in the side panel (Figure B). At a minimum, complete the recommended fields, which the system indicates with an asterisk next to data field labels. For example, recommended fields for a print book source include:

  • First name and last name of the author
  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Published year

Figure B

How to add citations in a Google Doc (4)

7. After you’ve entered citation details, select the Add Citation Source button at the bottom of the side panel. This adds your source as a citable item.
8. Repeat the process above for each and every source you need to cite in your Google Doc.

How to add a citation in a Google Doc

After you’ve added all of your sources, you may then cite sources in your Google Doc text.

  1. If the Citations side panel is not displayed, select Tools, then Citations.
  2. Position your cursor at the point in your Google Doc where you want to add a citation.
  3. Move your cursor over the source you want to cite. When you do, a Cite option will display, along with a three-vertical dot menu. This “more options” menu lets you Edit, Send Feedback, or Delete the source.
  4. Select Cite. This inserts your formatted citation in your document.
  5. Edit the inserted citation to add any necessary details, such as page numbers.

How to insert a bibliography in a Google Doc

Typically, you will insert a bibliography at or near the end of your document. To rapidly navigate to the end of your document, you may find it helpful to use navigation keys: On macOS devices, Command + down arrow; on Chrome OS devices, Alt + down arrow; and on Windows PCs, Page Down key.

  1. If the Citations side panel is not displayed, select Tools, then Citations.
  2. Position your cursor at the point in your Google Doc where you want your bibliography to be.
  3. Select Insert Bibliography. The system adds a centered Bibliography title, followed by citations formatted in the citation style selected (Figure C).

Figure C

How to add citations in a Google Doc (5)

Other citation tools

Google offers at least one other free citation tool as part of Google Scholar. Go to, enter a search for relevant research, academic papers, case law, and books, among other sources, then favorite relevant items for future reference. Select the quote icon associated with a resource to display a citation for the resource in five different formats, including MLA, APA, and Chicago. Scholar additionally displays citations in Harvard format, which is often used in economics, and Vancouver format, generally used in the medical field.

People who write and cite often may want to explore options that allow citations to be used among multiple documents, without the need to re-enter resource information each time. offers a free, browser-centric method for creating and managing bibliographies, while delivers a robust open source installable citation app that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux., offers a Chrome extension along with iOS and Android apps, may be used to track up to 20 references and five bibliographies for free, with a paid upgrade ($50 per year) available that removes these limits.

(Video) How to Use the Citation Tool in Google Docs

However, if close integration with Google Drive and Docs matters to you, and you’re willing to pay for a citation service, explore Paperpile. Designed to work well with Google Drive and Docs, Paperpile offers both a Docs add-on and a Chrome extension, in addition to mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The service costs approximately $36 per year for academic or nonprofit use and $120 per year for business use.

What citation tools do you use?

If you are a student, teacher, or professional researcher, what do you think of the citation tool in Google Docs? Is there a citation app or service you use that meets your needs well? In the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber), let me know what your experience with citation management apps has been.

How to add citations in a Google Doc (6)

Google Weekly Newsletter

Learn how to get the most out of Google Docs, Google Cloud Platform, Google Apps, Chrome OS, and all the other Google products used in business environments.

Delivered Fridays

Sign up today

Also See

By Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

  • Account Information

    Contact Andy Wolber

  • |
  • See all of Andy's content
(Video) Google Docs: How to Create Citations & a Bibliography
  • Google
  • Software

Editor's Picks

  • TechRepublic Premium

    TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits and research for download

    TechRepublic Premium content helps you solve your toughest IT issues and jump-start your career or next project.

  • Tech & Work

    The best payroll software for your small business in 2023

    Looking for the best payroll software for your small business? Check out our top picks for 2023 and read our in-depth analysis.

  • Security

    Top cybersecurity threats for 2023

    Next year, cybercriminals will be as busy as ever. Are IT departments ready?

  • Cloud

    Salesforce supercharges its tech stack with new integrations for Slack, Tableau

    The company, which for several years has been on a buying spree for best-of-breed products, is integrating platforms to generate synergies for speed, insights and collaboration.

    (Video) Google Docs How To Add Citations and Bibliography Update Tutorial 2021 (MLA, APA, Chicago)
  • Software

    The best applicant tracking systems for 2023

    Organize a number of different applicants using an ATS to cut down on the amount of unnecessary time spent finding the right candidate.

  • Software

    108 Excel tips every user should master

    Whether you are a Microsoft Excel beginner or an advanced user, you'll benefit from these step-by-step tutorials.

How to add citations in a Google Doc (14)

Google Weekly Newsletter

Learn how to get the most out of Google Docs, Google Cloud Platform, Google Apps, Chrome OS, and all the other Google products used in business environments.

(Video) How to Add Citations and Bibliography to a Google Doc

Delivered Fridays

Sign up today


1. Adding Footnotes and Citations on Google Docs
(Rishi's Tech Classroom)
2. In-text citations made easy with Google Docs
(Ben Paulson)
3. How to Use the Citation Tool in Google Docs
(Richard Byrne)
4. APA format - references in Google docs
(Melissa Ferguson)
5. 2. Using Zotero to add citation in a Google Doc
(Medical Research Platform [MRP] )
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Last Updated: 05/24/2023

Views: 5305

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-03-23

Address: 74183 Thomas Course, Port Micheal, OK 55446-1529

Phone: +13408645881558

Job: Global Representative

Hobby: Sailing, Vehicle restoration, Rowing, Ghost hunting, Scrapbooking, Rugby, Board sports

Introduction: My name is Geoffrey Lueilwitz, I am a zealous, encouraging, sparkling, enchanting, graceful, faithful, nice person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.