For most scholars in 2020, Google Docs will probably be the go-to choice to type up their five-page essay or 500-page dissertation. Unfortunately for said writers, the word processor has lagged behind its competitors when it comes to including an built-in citation management feature, forcing them to do it all by rote memory or with third-party add-ons and websites. But that will be the case no longer for G Suite customers as citation formatting has finally come to Docs!

Citations, found in the Tools menu, will support MLA, APA, and Chicago (author-date) styles with easy in-line insertions as well as index/bibliography creation. Right now, supported source types include books, websites, and articles from journals and newspapers (G Suite Updates) — as we have not had the feature roll out to our organization yet, we hope that's not an all-inclusive list because English majors leaning heavily into cultural topics would probably scoff at the lack of other media.

Rapid Release domains should see the rollout starting today and going for 2 weeks. Scheduled Release domains will get their launch on October 15 and going on for up to 3 days.

This is not Docs's first swipe at a citation helper — four years ago, back when it had an integrated "Explore" browser, users could tack on a quick citation from articles listed in search results (Palmer).

If your district or school subscribes to G Suite for Education or G Suite Enterprise for Education, this is a big win. But for those outside of that bubble, citations remain yet another hurdle, small as it may be, to overcome when students could instead use their time and effort to perhaps improve their prose or audit their thesis and logic. As someone who grew up without easy access to automate what I consider to be an over-formalized performative process in my teenage years, Google's limitations sting a bit.

Non-G Suite customer gets Citations

Some members of the Android Police team are now seeing the Citations tool. Surprisingly, however, we were also told by a Docs user that they've received the feature on their regular Gmail account, not with G Suite.

Availability officially remains pegged to all G Suite customers at this time.

  • Thanks:
  • @4U6U57

@4U6U57. "@PointJules I got Citations in Google Docs and I'm on regular Gmail, not G Suite." Twitter, 29 Sept. 2020, 1:00 p.m., https://twitter.com/4U6U57/status/1310987722207551488.

Jordan Palmer. "Explore in Google Docs gets new quick source citations." Android Police, 5 Dec. 2016, https://www.androidpolice.com/2016/12/05/g-suite-adds-quick-source-citations/.

@PointJules. "Google Docs for G Suiters is getting citations formatting. Why not everyone? This is stupid." Twitter, 23 Sept. 2020, 12:34 p.m., https://twitter.com/PointJules/status/1308806894681829376.

"Easily add and manage citations in Google Docs." G Suite Updates, 23 Sept. 2020, Google, https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/2020/09/citations-bibliography-google-docs.html. Accessed 23 Sept. 2020.