How I saved valuable time in creating AP Style references with a plan

Lately, I have been editing a 65,000 words book for healthcare IT. Editing a book of such volume and topic comes with its own set of challenges (which I will not discuss in this post). One of the challenges is including numerous references, which if planned well can help avoid wasting your valuable time. Not to mention that a book goes through multiple rounds of reviews, and so do the references which mean that every time you have to keep updating the bibliography.

Every time you update the literature of a book, the chances are that you may delete or add 2-3 references. While the number may sound insignificant, consider updating these references among 100-200 (or more) other references that are already in place and numbered and hyperlinked.

This was not the first time I prepared the references for a document. However, it was the first time for a book of this magnitude. I was aware of the challenges involved and so planned by steps ahead of embarking on the activity. Here is what I did:

Created a separate file for reference: The manuscript was a heavy file both due to the content and the track changes. Trying to juggle around with references and citations would have slowed me down considerably. So I took a fresh file to prepare the citations. This also allowed me to number the citations that would later help me in numbering the references exported in the bibliography (In AP Style – References). All the actions now took place in this fresh and light file. The master file was only used to copy the links.

Used footnotes to create citations: The book had links to the referred sources in the form of hyperlinks. The author needed the references done in AP Style. He also wanted them to be arranged in the order and chapter-wise. Remember, the references can be created only after you have finished recording the citations in MS-word, and they are arranged in alphabetic order. So, for every link that I recorded the citation in the new file, in the master file, I numbered it using a footnote. Please note, I consciously used footnotes and not endnotes here. Every time you create an endnote, you will be shifted to the end of the document to allow you to enter the note. Time-consuming, right?

Converted footnotes to endnotes: Once I had all citations neatly done and numbered corresponding to footnote number in the master file, I converted the footnotes to endnotes in the master file. In the new file where the citations were created, I exported the references in AP Style. I was now ready to begin the referencing process. In the new file, I went to each citation by its number and right-clicked to select “edit source.” From here you have to copy the URL or some unique aspect of the citation (in the absence of the URL), and after closing the pop-up window, press ctrl+F and ctrl+V. The URL will help search the right AP Style reference in the file. Copy this reference and paste it against the right endnote in the master file.

Looked for missed hyperlinks: One thing will good to keep in mind here is that an author or an editor while writing, editing or formatting long manuscripts may often accidentally format a link too. This may result in masking the link to look like regular text. It is, therefore, advisable to run a search for hyperlinks in the manuscript and tally the numberings with the reference file (in my case the new file). This will help you to figure out the missing ones without disturbing the numbering of the citations or the references. Here is the link to using Microsoft’s advanced Find function to detect all hyperlinks in a document.

Following this plan helped me save a great deal of time and effort. I was able to complete citing and referencing 150+ links in one working day. It was also easy for me to update the list when the author requested for some changes in the references and provided updated links for some. Hope this will help you too to save time with your projects.

Do let me know or write to me to share your experiences in creating such hacks.

Happy writing.


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