Change the type of brackets in citations

Word 365 2013 2010 2007
Usually, Word surrounds citations by the round brackets (see How to create a citation for more details). But you can insert a citation in the square brackets or use other symbols.

By default, Word inserts citations in round brackets:

Round brackets in the citation Word 2016

First, you must specify the style that you will use for citations:

   1.   On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, select Style:

Citations and Bibliography Word 2016

   2.   Word proposes several styles. This tip uses the APA Sixth Edition style.


To change the brackets type, do the following:

   1.   Open for edit the file APA*.xsl (for example, in Notepad). The location of the file may vary, but it can be located here:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\Bibliography\Style\ or

C:\Users\***\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Bibliography\Style\, where *** is your user name

   2.   Find the following lines in that file (you can search for the phrase "openbracket" and "closebracket"):

<xsl:template name="templ_prop_OpenBracket" >
  <xsl:param name="LCID" />
  <xsl:variable name="_LCID">
  <xsl:call-template name="localLCID">
   <xsl:with-param name="LCID" select="$LCID"/>
  </xsl:call-template>
  </xsl:variable>
  <xsl:value-of select="/*/b:Locals/b:Local[@LCID=$_LCID]/b:General/b:OpenBracket"/>
 </xsl:template>

 <xsl:template name="templ_prop_CloseBracket" >
  <xsl:param name="LCID" />
  <xsl:variable name="_LCID">
  <xsl:call-template name="localLCID">
   <xsl:with-param name="LCID" select="$LCID"/>
  </xsl:call-template>
  </xsl:variable>
  <xsl:value-of select="/*/b:Locals/b:Local[@LCID=$_LCID]/b:General/b:CloseBracket"/>
 </xsl:template>

   3.   Change the type of brackets:

 <xsl:template name="templ_prop_OpenBracket" >
  <xsl:param name="LCID" />
  <xsl:variable name="_LCID">
  <xsl:call-template name="localLCID">
   <xsl:with-param name="LCID" select="$LCID"/>
  </xsl:call-template>
  </xsl:variable>
  <xsl:value-of select="/*/b:Locals/b:Local[@LCID=INITIAL_CONTENTLCID]/b:General/b:OpenBracket"/>
   <xsl:text>[</xsl:text>
 </xsl:template>

 <xsl:template name="templ_prop_CloseBracket" >
  <xsl:param name="LCID" />
  <xsl:variable name="_LCID">
  <xsl:call-template name="localLCID">
   <xsl:with-param name="LCID" select="$LCID"/>
  </xsl:call-template>
  </xsl:variable>
  <xsl:value-of select="/*/b:Locals/b:Local[@LCID=INITIAL_CONTENTLCID]/b:General/b:CloseBracket"/>
   <xsl:text>]</xsl:text>
 </xsl:template>

After you save this file, you can see square brackets (only in the APA style):

Square brackets in the citation Word 2016

Notes:

  • We recommend you create a copy of this file before you begin to change it.
  • You can create a new style file:
    • copy APA.XSL file (on the same path)
    • change the type of brackets in it
    • choose your new style in the Style list (on the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group)

You can change other elements as you wish:

Custom brackets in the citation Word 2016

See also this tip in French: Comment changer le type de parenthèses dans les citations.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

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