How to cite primary and secondary sources in Microsoft Word (Ancient History / Classics / Biblical studies etc.)

Word working doc with DGE abbreviated classical citations side-by-side with Zotero modern author-date citations.


It's 2017, so all of us engaged in academic research should all be using a reference manager. Seriously, if you're not, go look into Endnote (which is probably available on your campus PCs), Mendeley or Zotero. They do take a bit of management, and the garbage in, garbage out principle abides, but they are indispensable. Add a reference from the web to your database: one click. Make a reference: couple of clicks. Find out the journal wants all your inline citations as footnotes: two clicks. Create your bibliography: one click.

But if you are interested in any pre-modern texts you are going to run into a problem. Although you'll want to reference your secondary sources as normal, your primary sources require very different and specific referencing styles, some of which have been developed over the centuries. These are typically in the fashion of author>work>book>passage because the citation needs to work regardless of which language, translation, edition of format of the work that you are dealing with. Additionally, most of these works and authors will often have one or more established abbreviations that are expected to be used when referencing them.

One option would be to try to use your reference manager to also handle the primary sources. But this involves a lot of gaming, and probably wouldn't work without a significant amount of convoluted gaming, and likely a bit scripting.

Salvation is at hand however with the fact that MS Word has its own built in reference management system. Now normally I wouldn't recommend it unless absolutely necessary, as it has nowhere near the robustness and utility, except in this case.

A tutorial to citing incompatible primary and secondary referencing systems


  1. I'll be assuming that you've managed to download, install and start a reference manager by yourself. There are umpteen guides to doing so if not. I'll be using Zotero in this tutorial.
  2. Download the word style and db files. These are based on the Diccionario Griego-EspaƱol (DGE) and were compiled by Dr Alessandro Vatri. I ended up modifying the style guide to better fit my needs and will post my edits sometime in future. I'll edit it more in future to enable the bibliography in order to create an index locorum.

Step one

  1. Create or open a Word document.
  2. Install the style and sources DB. 
  3. Go to the source manager and copy across a couple of sources. The DB is large, and Word struggles to handle it, so be patient and scroll to find rather than typing to search. Exit source manager.
  4. Select citation style DGE.
  5. Go where you want to insert citation. 
  6. For footnote, footnote then cite. For inline just cite. Click on your source.
  7. To add the passage info, click on the arrow of the source you've just added and select edit citation. add the info as if it was a page (it doesn't validate so will accept e.g. xvi. 5.1 or 15.5.1, so it's down to you to be consistent).
  8. Add a secondary source citation if you haven't any already. You'll see that if you're using footnotes for both, the notes will be sequential. 
  9. Continue until your research piece is a masterpiece of well-referenced citations. 


  • The DGE database is good. Many of you in Ancient History and Classics will prefer the OCD + L'annee Philologique abbreviations however, as they are more common in English. I'd recommend editing the entries individually in the sources manager to handle this. If you only use the source once, convert it to static text and do so manually. Otherwise, if you have say 100 x Thucydides and want to change Th. to Thuc., then do it this way. Your third option is to convert all the text to static when its final, and then find and replace all, but it's really easy to mess that up. Plus where is the elegance in doing so?
  • Zotero can handle easy conversion between footnote and inline by changing the style. I presume the other major citation managers can too. Word's native manager can't however, so you'll have to do that manually unfortunately.
If you've found this useful, or have any useful suggestions or improvements, please pop a comment below. I've got a vague notion to make a YouTube how to type of video of this workflow, let me know if that would be useful to you.


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