Anyone ever encounter this problem in Word 2007?

Awful Bibliography Line Breaks

Word's automatic bibliography is not making the reference numbers column wide enough, so it's wrapping the closing bracket onto the next line. Is there any way to fix this? I can't manually change the column width, Word won't let me.

I'm using the IEEE 2006 bibliography style with the default Word 2007 Style Set.

I could make the font size smaller, but I'd prefer not to.


If you don't want to change the XSL style as explained in M. Dudley's answer (which simply did not work for me), you can simply change the column width by hovering next to the citation number column, then dragging it to the right when you get the cursor:

Note that you really need to change this column, and not the margins at the top ruler—otherwise you'll shift the entire bibliography to the right.

  • Which version of Word are you using? – M. Dudley Nov 24 '15 at 13:28
  • Office 2013. Changing the values in the XSL template simply did not have any effect for me. But maybe I did something wrong? – slhck Nov 24 '15 at 15:07
  • The original Q&A were regarding Word 2007. I'm not surprised that the fix does not work on new versions. – M. Dudley Nov 24 '15 at 15:54
  • Well, I am surprised it doesn't work—after all, the idea seems simple enough. But perhaps the templates are cached somewhere else? (Or, as mentioned, I simply screwed up somewhere. I'll try it again tomorrow.) – slhck Nov 24 '15 at 21:42
  • This works fine... until you change any references, or even just update fields with no changes. Not a workable solution overall. – Arthur Tacca Nov 6 '17 at 13:24

This appears to be a defect in the IEEE 2006 style when you have long URLs in a citation.

One of my citations has a long URL that is just about the same width as the page. It forced the citation column to be wider, and squished the reference number column.

I edited that citation's URL to have a space so that the URL could wrap. Now it doesn't squish the reference number column.

I did try editing the citation style XSL file (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\Bibliography\Style\IEEE2006OfficeOnline.xsl). I replaced <xsl:value-of select="'1%'"/> with <xsl:value-of select="'5%'"/>. However this did not help because of the above problem with the long URL.

  • "edited that citation's URL to have a space" I agree this is the best solution (and ideally put the space just after a slash). This works best because it doesn't reset when you change a citation or update fields (unlike resizing the column heading) and won't break when you send the document to someone else (unlike editing teh XSL file). – Arthur Tacca Nov 6 '17 at 13:48

All you need to do is adjust the margin in your reference list. Move it to the right just a bit and everything will be okay.


No need to change the XSL file. Click on the bibliography and the table menu appears. Open the table properties and navigate to column. There you can click on Previous Column or Next Column. I had to click on Previous Column twice to get the column where the numbers are. Now you can change the percentage of the column width. I had to choose 3%.


I'm using Word 2016.

Edit: Maybe you have to choose Distribute Columns before and then choose the right percentage

  • +1 for "choose Distribute Columns", then could drag on the table boarders – William Sep 14 '18 at 16:59
  • This does not survive a citations update. – Matt Chambers Mar 5 at 17:58

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