Significant User Interface Improvements to Citations in Word?

Occasional Visitor

As I try to finish my dissertation, I can't help but notice that the citation system in word could use some serious redesign, both in how the interface is handled and features presented. I remember these issues being present when I completed my masters over ten years ago and I am shocked to find these issues are still present today in Word 365.


1) Insert Citation should have the ability, when clicking on the icon for the drop down menu, to reorder in ways other than just by author. There is the option to reorder in the manage sources dialog, however, when I am trying to insert a source its very often the title of the book, or a year I'm thinking of and not always the author.  

2) The Source Manager dialog box should not be a dialog box at all, but a separate window I can dock on the side. It needs to resizable, and easier to work with as I develop a paper. The ability to export all of my sources as an XML or other formatted document and even connect various source 'databases' within my own collection would be helpful as I build a library of citations for publications, grants and other works. The idea of adding a field to allow me to add my own comments about a source would be great so I can remember that maybe one source wasn't the best.

3) Custom Citation Formats (called something other than Styles so we don't have conflicting terminology). The system for 'styles' is quite daunting, I've been looking for a good IEEE version, however, even those online and offered by others have issues with certain layout requirements. I wish I had time to dive deeper into the system for implementing my own styles, but deadlines currently don't make that a reality. Changing the name from 'style' as well would be really nice so that when searching and referring to citations the term doesn't dredge up information on the 'styles' for formatting levels of text in a document. 

4) A preview window that uses the existing margins and other format characteristics of the document. My margins in my dissertation require 1.5" on the left, which is completely messing up the IEEE style format that exists within Word (both the included format and the several I've tried using from various GitHub repositories). This 'preview' should take the document format into consideration, or allow me to choose a document format. And adding new citation formats should be an icon and not require individuals to manually place files in hidden or hard-to-find locations. 

5) The Researcher feature has good intentions, but I find doesn't have what I want to cite and I end up not using it. I'd rather just be able to have my own 'block' of works cited in some XML or other format that can be linked together (maybe in One Drive?), or,  provide me with the ability to validate them against an online repository managed by Microsoft with crowd sourcing of citations. It could be similar to how the grammar checking works, checking my list of sources against what is known and making  recommendations if it notices an inconsistency, but giving me final say in the matter. 

Just a few thoughts as I work and struggle with different elements of the system.

1 Reply

The best place to put feedback like this would be UserVoice: Welcome to Word's Suggestion Box! (


Depending on which field you are specializing in, it might be a good idea to start using LaTeX and similar instead of Word.