who to write a bibliography

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who to write a bibliography

How to Write a Bibliography in APA and MLA styles With Examples

What is a bibliography.

Your bibliography should include a minimum of three written sources of information about your topic from books, encyclopedias, and periodicals. You may have additional information from the Web if appropriate.

But, you develop a bibliography only after first preparing a background research plan — a road map of the research questions you need to answer. Before you compose your bibliography, you will need to develop your background research plan.

With your background research plan in hand, you will find sources of information that will help you with your science fair project. As you find this information it will be important for you to write down where the sources are from. You can use the Bibliography Worksheet to help you, just print out a few copies and take them with you to the library. As you find a source, write in all of the necessary information. This way, when you are typing your bibliography you won't need to go back to the library and find any missing information. The more information you write down about your source, the easier it will be for you to find if you want to read it again.

When you are writing your report, you will use the sources in your bibliography to remind you of different facts and background information you used for your science fair project. Each time you use some information from a source, you will need to cite the source that it came from. To cite a source, simply put the author's name and the date of the publication in parentheses (Author, date) in your text. If the person reading your report wants to find the information and read more about it, they can look up the reference in your bibliography for more detail about the source. That is why each source you use must be listed in a detailed bibliography with enough information for someone to go and find it by themselves.

How to Write a Bibliography

  • Make a list to keep track of ALL the books, magazines, and websites you read as you follow your background research plan . Later this list of sources will become your bibliography .
  • Most teachers want you to have at least three written sources of information.
  • Write down, photocopy, or print the following information for each source you find. You can use the Science Buddies Bibliography Worksheet to help you.
  • the title page of a book, encyclopedia or dictionary
  • the heading of an article
  • the front, second, or editorial page of the newspaper
  • the contents page of a journal or magazine
  • the header (at the top) or footer (at the bottom) of a Web site
  • the About or the Contact page of a Web site
  • When it is time to turn in your Bibliography, type all of your sources into a list. Use the examples in MLA Format Examples or APA Format Examples as a template to insure that each source is formatted correctly.
  • List the sources in alphabetical order using the author's last name. If a source has more than one author, alphabetize using the first one. If an author is unknown, alphabetize that source using the title instead.

Examples of Bibliography Format

Examples of bibliography formats.

There are standards for documenting sources of information in research papers. Even though different journals may use a slightly different format for the bibliography, they all contain the same basic information. The most basic information that each reference should have is the author's name, the title, the date, and the source.

Different types of sources have different formatting in the bibliography. In American schools, the two most commonly used guidelines for this formatting are published by the MLA (Modern Language Association) and the APA (American Psychological Association).

The MLA guidelines call for the bibliography to be called Works Cited. Science Buddies has summarized some of the most common MLA formats for your use: MLA Format Examples .

The APA guidelines call for the bibliography to be called the Reference List. Science Buddies has summarized some of the most common APA formats for your use: APA Format Examples .

Your teacher will probably tell you which set of guidelines to use.

On the Science Buddies website we use the following guidelines:

  • APA format for online sources
  • MLA format for all other sources
  • APA (author, date, page) format for citations in our articles

Getting Started

Download and print the Science Buddies Bibliography Worksheet . Keep several copies with you and fill in the information as you do your research. When you are finished, type the information from the worksheet into a formatted bibliography using the examples listed above.

Sample Bibliographies

Bibliography checklist, explore our science videos.

who to write a bibliography

How to Write a Bibliography, With Examples

Lindsay Kramer

You spent the past six hours grinding out your latest paper, but finally, it’s finished. It’s late, you’re exhausted, and all you want to do is click “Submit Assignment” and then get some sleep. 

Not so fast. If your paper doesn’t have a properly formatted bibliography, it’s not finished. 

A bibliography is a list of all the sources you consulted while writing your paper. Every book, article, and even video you used to gather information for your paper needs to be cited in your bibliography so your instructor (and any others reading your work) can trace the facts, statistics, and insights back to their original sources. 

Give your paper extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly

What is the purpose of a bibliography? 

A bibliography is the list of sources a work’s author used to create the work. It accompanies just about every type of academic writing , like essays , research papers , and reports . You might also find a brief, less formal bibliography at the end of a journalistic piece, presentation, or video when the author feels it’s necessary to cite their sources . In nearly all academic instances, a bibliography is required. Not including a bibliography (or including an incomplete, incorrect, or falsified bibliography) can be considered an act of plagiarism , which can lead to a failing grade, being dropped from your course or program, and even being suspended or expelled from your school. 

A bibliography accomplishes a few things. These include:

  • Showing your instructor that you conducted the necessary research for your assignment 
  • Crediting your sources’ authors for the research they conducted
  • Making it easy for anybody who reads your work to find the sources you used and conduct their own research on the same or a similar topic

Additionally, future historians consulting your writing can use your bibliography to identify primary and secondary sources in your research field. Documenting the course information from its original source through later academic works can help researchers understand how that information has been cited and interpreted over time. It can also help them review the information in the face of competing—and possibly contradictory or revisionary—data. 

In nearly all cases, a bibliography is found at the end of a book or paper. 

What are the different kinds of bibliographies?

Different types of academic works call for different types of bibliographies. For example, your computer science professor might require you to submit an annotated bibliography along with your paper because this type of bibliography explains the why behind each source you chose to consult.

Analytical bibliography

An analytical bibliography documents a work’s journey from manuscript to published book or article. This type of bibliography includes the physical characteristics of each cited source, like each work’s number of pages, type of binding used, and illustrations. 

Annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes annotations, which are short notes explaining why the author chose each of the sources. Generally a few sentences long, these notes might summarize or reflect on the source. 

An annotated bibliography is not the same as a literature review . While a literature review discusses how you conducted your research and how your work fits into the overall body of established research in your field, an annotated bibliography simply explains how each source you used is relevant to your work. 

Enumerative bibliography

An enumerative bibliography is the most basic type of bibliography. It’s a list of sources used to conduct research, often ordered according to specific characteristics, like alphabetically by authors’ last names or grouped according to topic or language. 

Specific types of enumerative bibliographies used for research works include:

National bibliography

A national bibliography groups sources published in a specific region or nation. In many cases, these bibliographies also group works according to the time period during which they were published. 

Personal bibliography

A personal bibliography lists multiple works by the same individual author or group of authors. Often, personal bibliographies include works that would be difficult to find elsewhere, like unpublished works. 

Corporate bibliography

In a corporate bibliography, the sources are grouped according to their relation to a specific organization. The sources can be about an organization, published by that organization, or owned by that organization. 

Subject bibliography

Subject bibliographies group works according to the subjects they cover. Generally, these bibliographies list primary and secondary sources, whereas other types of enumerative bibliographies, like personal bibliographies, might not. 

Other types of bibliographies

In some cases, it makes sense to use a bibliography format other than those listed here. These include:

Single-author bibliography

This type of bibliography lists works by a single author. With certain assignments, like an essay comparing two of an author’s books, your bibliography is a single-author bibliography by default. In this case, you can choose how to order the sources, such as by publication date or alphabetically by title. 

Selected bibliography

A selected bibliography is a bibliography that only lists some of the sources you consulted. Usually, these are the most important sources for your work. You might write a selected bibliography if you consulted a variety of minor sources that you didn’t end up citing directly in your work. A selected bibliography may also be an annotated bibliography. 

How is a bibliography structured? 

Although each style guide has its own formatting rules for bibliographies, all bibliographies follow a similar structure. Key points to keep in mind when you’re structuring a bibliography include:

  • Every bibliography page has a header. Format this header according to the style guide you’re using.
  • Every bibliography has a title, such as “Works Cited,” “References,” or simply “Bibliography.”
  • Bibliographies are lists. List your sources alphabetically according to their authors’ last names or their titles—whichever is applicable according to the style guide you’re using. The exception is a single-author bibliography or one that groups sources according to a shared characteristic. 
  • Bibliographies are double-spaced.
  • Bibliographies should be in legible fonts, typically the same font as the papers they accompany.

As noted above, different kinds of assignments require different kinds of bibliographies. For example, you might write an analytical bibliography for your art history paper because this type of bibliography gives you space to discuss how the construction methods used for your sources inform their content and vice-versa. If you aren’t sure which kind of bibliography to write, ask your instructor. 

How do you write a bibliography?

The term “bibliography” is a catch-all for any list of sources cited at the end of an academic work. Certain style guides use different terminology to refer to bibliographies. For example, MLA format refers to a paper’s bibliography as its Works Cited page. APA refers to it as the References page. No matter which style guide you’re using, the process for writing a bibliography is generally the same. The primary difference between the different style guides is how the bibliography is formatted. 

The first step in writing a bibliography is organizing all the relevant information about the sources you used in your research. Relevant information about a source can vary according to the type of media it is, the type of bibliography you’re writing, and your style guide. Determine which information you need to include about each source by consulting the style guide you’re using. If you aren’t sure what to include, or if you’re not sure which style guide to use, ask your instructor. 

The next step is to format your sources according to the style guide you’re using. MLA , APA , and the Chicago Manual of Style are three of the most commonly used style guides in academic writing. 

MLA Works Cited page

In MLA format , the bibliography is known as the Works Cited page. MLA is typically used for writing in the humanities, like English and History. Because of this, it includes guidelines for citing sources like plays, videos , and works of visual art —sources you’d find yourself consulting for these courses, but probably not in your science and business courses.

In MLA format, books are cited like this:

If the cited book was published prior to 1900, is from a publisher with offices in multiple countries, or is from a publisher that is largely unknown in the US, include the book’s city of publication. Otherwise, this can be left out. 

Scholarly articles are cited in this format: 

  • Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.

APA References page

In APA format —the format typically used in psychology, nursing, business, and the social sciences—the bibliography page is titled References. This format includes citation instructions for technical papers and data-heavy research, the types of sources you’re likely to consult for academic writing in these fields. 

In APA format, books are cited like this:

Digital object identifier (DOI).

(issue  number) , article’s page range (i.e., 10-15). URL.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) permits authors to format bibliographies in two different ways: the notes and bibliography system and the author-date system. The former is generally used in the humanities, whereas the latter is usually used in the sciences and social sciences. 

Both systems include guidelines for citations on a paper’s body pages as well as a bibliographic list that follows the paper. This list is titled Bibliography.

In CMoS, books are cited like this:


number  (year published): page numbers of the article (i.e., 10-15).

Bibliography FAQs 

What is a bibliography.

A bibliography is the list of sources a work’s author used to create the work.

What are the different kinds of bibliographies? 

There are many different kinds of bibliographies. These include:

  • Enumerative bibliographies
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Analytical bibliographies

How do you write a bibliography for different style guides?

Each style guide publishes its bibliography guidelines online. Locate the guidelines for the style guide you’re following ( Chicago Manual of Style , MLA , APA ), and using the examples provided, format and list the sources for your work. 

who to write a bibliography

How to Write a Bibliography: Referencing Styles Explained

  • Distance Learning

Published: 13 July 2021

Author: Greg Robson

If you aren't familiar with writing bibliographies as part of your assignments, it can feel pretty confusing. Often, bibliographies are an afterthought or something left to the last minute. However, if you collect the information as you study, bibliographies can be a hassle-free part of your project.  In this guide,...

Continue reading (2 minutes)...

If you aren't familiar with writing bibliographies as part of your assignments, it can feel pretty confusing. Often, bibliographies are an afterthought or something left to the last minute. However, if you collect the information as you study, bibliographies can be a hassle-free part of your project.  

In this guide, we explain exactly what a bibliography is, the different referencing styles and where to find the necessary information.  

What is a bibliography? 

A bibliography is the list of sources you used to build your assignment. You should include anything you actively referenced in your work and anything you read as part of your project's research and learning phase, even if you don't explicitly cite them within your project.    

What are primary and secondary sources? 

Your course teacher may request you order your bibliography using primary and secondary sources. This is much more simple than it sounds.   

A primary source refers to works created by people directly connected with the topic you are writing about. For example, if you are discussing a  psychological study , a primary source would be a psychologist who was actively involved in the study.  

On the other hand, secondary sources refer to any authors that discuss the topic you are studying but have no direct association.   

writing a bibliography

What should you include in a bibliography? 

We recommend compiling your bibliography as you study. Whether or not you directly reference sources, if you use them as part of your studies, they should be included. By collecting this information and building your bibliography as you go, you’ll find it far less stressful and one less thing to worry about.    

Information required for referencing printed sources: 

  • The name of the author.  
  • The title of the publication or article.  
  • The date of publication.  
  • The page number in the book where the citation can be found.  
  • The name of the publishing company.  
  • If you’re referencing a magazine or printed encyclopedia, record the volume number.  

Information required for referencing web sources: 

  • The name of the author or editor.  
  • The title of the webpage.  
  • The company that created the webpage.  
  • The URL of the piece.  
  • The last date you visited the webpage.  

Where to find this information 

The information you need to include in your bibliography will be located in different places, which can be pretty frustrating, particularly if you’ve left your referencing to the last minute. However, there are a few specific places where this information is likely to be found:  

  • The contents page (for magazine or journal articles).  
  • The first, second or editorial page (for newspapers).  
  • The header or footer of the webpage.  
  • The contact, or about, page of the website.  

writing a bibliography

What are the different bibliography styles?  

In addition to structuring your bibliography correctly, depending on whether your source is a book, magazine, newspaper or webpage, you need to find out what bibliographic style is required.  

  Different course tutors will ask for a specific referencing style. This means that you simply present your source information in a different order.   

There are four main styles that you might be asked to follow: MLA, APA, Harvard or MHRA, and the chosen style will change your reference order:    

MRL reference order 

  • Full name of the author (last name first).  
  • The title of the book.  
  • Publication place.  
  • The name of the book publisher.  
  • The publication date.  

APA/Harvard reference order  

  • If using Harvard referencing, title your bibliography as ‘References’.  
  • Author’s last name.  
  • Author's first initial.  
  • The publication date (in brackets).  
  • The book title.  
  • The publication place.  

MHRA reference order  

  • Author’s first and last name  
  • The title of the book  
  • The publication date  

Points three to five should all be included in the same bracket.  

writing a bibliography

How to write a bibliography 

Whatever the style needed for your bibliography, there are some simple rules to follow for success:  

  • Collect citation information as you go.  
  • All citations must be listed alphabetically using the author's last name (if using the MHRA style, use the author’s first name).  
  • If you can’t source the author's name, alphabetise using the book or article title.   
  • If there are multiple authors of an article or book, alphabetise by the first author.  
  • Consistency is key. All the information must be listed in exactly the same way.  
  • Each source should begin on a new line.   
  • Bibliographies should be placed at the end of your assignment.

If you’re unsure about constructing your bibliography, get in touch with your  tutor , who will be able to help.  

We hope this handy guide clears up any confusion you have about referencing styles. If you’re looking to level up your learning, our experienced learning advisers are here to help. For more information,  browse our complete range of courses  or give us a call on 0121 630 3000.  

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How to write a bibliography

How to write a bibiliography.

A bibliography is not just “works cited.” It is  all  the relevant material you drew upon to write the paper the reader holds.

Do I need a bibliography?

If you read any articles or books in preparing your paper, you need a bibliography or footnotes.

  • If you cite the arguments of “critics” and “supporters,” even if you don’t name them or quote them directly, you are likely referring to information you read in books or articles as opposed to information you’ve gathered firsthand, like a news reporter, and so you need a bibliography.
  • If you quote sources and put some of the reference information in the text, you still need a bibliography, so that readers can track down the source material for themselves.
  • If you use footnotes to identify the source of your material or the authors of every quote, you DO NOT need a bibliography, UNLESS there are materials to which you do not refer directly (or if you refer to additional sections of the materials you already referenced) that also helped you reach your conclusions. In any event, your footnotes need to follow the formatting guidelines below.

These guidelines follow those of the  American Psychological Association and may be slightly different than what you’re used to, but we will stick with them for the sake of consistency.

Notice the use of punctuation. Publication titles may be either  italicized  or underlined, but not both.

Books are the bibliography format with which you’re probably most familiar. Books follow this pattern:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Publication Year)  Title . Publisher’s City: Publisher. Page numbers.

Alexander, Carol. (2001)  Market Models: A Guide to Financial Data Analysis.  New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 200-220.


Periodicals remove the publisher city and name and add the title of the article and the volume or issue number of the periodical. Notice article titles are put in quotation marks and only the publication title is italicized or underlined.

Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Publication Date—could be more than a year) “Article Title.” Publication   Title, Vol. # . (Issue #), Page numbers.

Salman, William A. (July-August 1997) “How to Write a Great Business Plan.”  Harvard Business Review  74. pp. 98-108.

Web versions of printed material

Because web sources are time-sensitive, meaning that web content can change day by day, it is important to include the day of retrieval and the URL from which you quoted the material. You include this in a retrieval statement.

The format for online versions of print publications should basically follow the same format as above, meaning if you’re referencing an online book, you should follow the book format with the addition of the retrieval statement. If you’re referencing an online periodical, you should follow the periodical format with the addition of the retrieval statement.

Note that you should not break the Internet address of the link, even if it requires its own line. Very long URLs, such as those that occur when using an online database, can be shortened by removing the retrieval code. (The retrieval code usually consists of a long string of unintelligible letters and numbers following the end point “htm” or “html.” Remove everything that occurs after that point to shorten.)

Author. (Date of Internet Publication—could be more than a year) “Document Title.”  Title of Publication . Retrieved on: Date from Full Web Address, starting with http://

Grant, Linda. (January 13, 1997) “Can Fisher Focus Kodak?”  Fortune . Retrieved on August 22, 2020 from (insert full web address here)

The above is just one example of citing online sources. There are more extensive bibliographic guidelines at www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/cite6.html .

How to cite sources in the text

In-text citations alert readers to cited material and tell them exactly where to go and look. These citations work in conjunction with a bibliography.

  • Usually, an in-text citation is a combination of a name (usually the author’s) and a number (either a year, a page number, or both).
  • For Internet sources, use the original publication date, not your retrieval date.
  • Internet sources also do not have page numbers, so use your discretion in the format that will direct the reader closest to the relevant section. You can number the paragraphs (abbreviate “par.”) or chapters (abbreviate “chap.”) or sections (abbreviate “sec.”).
  • If there is no author listed, the document’s title should be used in place of the author’s name. Use the entire title but not the subtitle. Subtitles are anything appearing after a colon (:).

Use a signal phrase

A signal phrase alerts the reader to the fact that you are citing another source for the information he or she is about to read.

Myers (1997) reported that “structured decision aids, as a factor in a more structured audit approach, are designed to focus the auditor on relevant information to improve effectiveness, and to improve audit efficiency, by eliminating the time needed to develop or organize individual approaches to the audit problems.” (sec. 1, “Introduction”)

Note that the date goes with the author, directions within the document go with the quote.

Later on, same source, different section:

According to one study (Myers, 1997), inexperienced auditors from a structured firm will demonstrate higher audit effectiveness in the typical audit situation than inexperienced auditors from an unstructured firm. (sec. 2, “Structure and Audit Effectiveness”)

Full parenthetical citation after the material cited

Another method is to end the quote with the full citation:

The primary controversies surrounding the issue of accounting for stock-based compensation include whether these instruments represent an expense that should be recognized in the income statement and, if so, when they should be recognized and how they should be measured. (Martin and Duchac, 1997, Sec. 3, “Theoretical Justification for Expense Recognition”)

For long quotes, use a previewing sentence and a parenthetical citation

Long quotes are 40 words or longer and should be single-spaced even in double-spaced papers. The previewing sentence tells the reader what to look for in the quotes (and helps the reader change gears from you to another author).

Martin and Duchac (1997) reiterate the problems with stock-based compensation and accounting issues:

While it is true these estimates generate uncertainties about value and the costs to be recognized, cost recognition should be the fundamental objective and information based on estimates can be useful just as it is with defined benefit pension plans. Given the similarities between stock based compensation and defined benefit pension costs, an expense should be recognized for employee stock options just as pension costs are recognized for defined benefit pension plans. The FASB agreed with this assessment in their exposure draft on stock based compensation, noting that nonrecognition of employee stock option costs produces financial statements that are neither credible nor representationally faithful. (sec. 2.1, “Recognition of Compensation Cost”)

Note the consistent indentation and the paragraph break inside the quote. Also note that the parenthetical citation falls outside the closing period.

Source-reflective statements

Sometimes, summarizing arguments from your sources can leave the reader in doubt as to whose opinion he or she is seeing. If the language is too close to the original source’s, you can leave yourself open to charges of low-level plagiarism or “word borrowing.” Using a source-reflective statement can clarify this problem, allowing you the freedom to assert your voice and opinion without causing confusion. For example:

Myers (1997) reported that “structured decision aids, as a factor in a more structured audit approach, are designed to focus the auditor on relevant information to improve effectiveness, and to improve audit efficiency, by eliminating the time needed to develop or organize individual approaches to the audit problems.” (sec. 1, “Introduction”) Thus, audit pricing by firms with a structured audit approach is lower, on average, than firms with an intermediate or unstructured audit approach.

Is the observation in the last sentence Myers’s or the author’s? We aren’t sure. So insert a source-reflective statement to avoid confusion.

Myers (1997) reported that “structured decision aids, as a factor in a more structured audit approach, are designed to focus the auditor on relevant information to improve effectiveness, and to improve audit efficiency, by eliminating the time needed to develop or organize individual approaches to the audit problems.” (sec. 1, “Introduction”)  Myers’s observation suggests that  audit pricing by firms with a structured audit approach is lower, on average, than firms with an intermediate or unstructured audit approach.

When and how to use footnotes

You may decide to substitute footnotes for in-text citations and a bibliography. Footnotes are thorough, like entries in the bibliography, and yet specific, like in-text citations. However, depending on the thoroughness of your use of footnotes, you may also need a bibliography.

If you decide to use footnotes, you should follow the format outlined above for the information to include in your entries and should number each footnote separately (1, 2, 3, etc.). You should NOT use the same number twice, even when referencing the same document. Check out guidelines such as those in the  Chicago Manual of Style  or the  MLA Handbook  for more information about how to number your footnote entries.

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How to Write a Bibliography

Last Updated: September 14, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 636,517 times.

When you write a paper or a book, it's important to include a bibliography. A bibliography tells your reader what sources you've used. It lists all the books, articles, and other references you cited in or used to inform your work. Bibliographies are typically formatted according to one of three styles: American Psychological Association (APA) for scientific papers, Modern Language Association (MLA) for humanities papers, and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for the social sciences. Make sure you always check with your superior - whether a professor or boss - about which style they prefer.

Sample Bibliographies

who to write a bibliography

Writing an APA Bibliography

Step 1 Create a reference list.

  • For example, if the author's name for a source is "John Adams Smith," you would list him as "Smith, J.A.," before listing the title of his piece.

Step 3 Use ellipses if there are more than seven authors.

  • For example, if one source has twelve authors, and the seventh author is "Smith, J.A." and the twelfth is "Timothy, S.J.," you would list the first six authors, then write "Smith, J.A. ...Timothy, S.J."

Step 4 List sources by the same author is chronological order.

  • For example, if you have a World Health Organization Report without an author as one of your sources, you would write, "World Health Organization, "Report on Development Strategies in Developing Nations," July 1996."

Step 6 Indent each line after the first line of each source.

  • For example, an article citation might look like this: Jensen, O. E. (2012). "African Elephants." Savannah Quarterly , 2(1), 88.
  • If the periodical the article comes from always begins with page number 1 (these types of periodicals are called “paginated by issue” periodicals, you should include the full page range of the article.
  • If the article was retrieved online, end the citation with the words "Retrieved from" followed by the web address.

Step 8 Cite books.

  • Example: Worden, B. L. (1999). Echoing Eden. New York, New York: One Two Press.
  • If the title is more than one word long and doesn’t contain any proper nouns, only the first word should be capitalized. Only the first letter of any subtitle should be capitalized as well.

Step 9 [9]...

  • For example, a cited website might look like this: Quarry, R. R. (May 23, 2010). Wild Skies. Retrieved from http://wildskies.com.
  • If no author is available, just start with the title. If no date is available, write "n.d."

Step 10 Check a reliable source for other citation rules.

Writing a MLA Bibliography

Step 1 Create a works cited page.

  • You shouldn’t use an author’s title or degrees when listing their names in your bibliography. This is true even if they are listed that way on the source.

Step 6 Cite books.

  • For example, a book citation might look like this: Butler, Olivia. Parable of the Flower. Sacramento: Seed Press, 1996.

Step 7 Cite articles.

  • For example, an article published in a scholarly journal might look like this: Green, Marsha. "Life in Costa Rica." Science Magazine vol. 1, no. 4, Mar 2013: 1-2.
  • If you’re citing an article in a newspaper, you only need the name of the newspaper, followed by the date it was published, and the page number. A citation for that might look like this: Smith, Jennifer. “Tiny Tim Wins Award.” New York Times, 24 Dec 2017, p. A7.

Step 8 Cite websites.

  • For example, a website citation might look like this: Jong, June. "How to Write an Essay." Writing Portal. 2 Aug. 2012. University of California. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://writingportal.com>
  • Some websites, particularly academic ones, will have what’s called a DOI (digital object identifier). Write “doi:” in front of this number in place of the website’s url if a DOI is available.

Step 9 Use reliable sources to look for the citations rules for other types of sources.

Writing a CMS Bibliography

Step 1 Create a bibliography page.

  • Example: Skylar Marsh. "Walking on Water." Earth Magazine 4(2001): 23.

Step 6 Cite books.

  • For example, a book entry might look like this: Walter White. Space and Time . New York: London Press, 1982

Step 7 Cite websites.

  • Example: University of California. "History of University of California." Last modified April 3, 2013. http://universityofcalifornia.com.
  • Unless there is a publication date for the website you’re citing, you don’t need to include an access date. If you do have an access date, it goes at the end of the citation.

Expert Q&A

Diane Stubbs

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Ask your teacher or professor which style they prefer you to use in your paper. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2
  • Be sure to include each and every source you reference in your work. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 5
  • When writing a bibliography or a reference page, it really comes down to looking at an example and applying it to your own information. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

who to write a bibliography

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Write an APA Style References Page

  • ↑ https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/citing-references/compilingbibliography
  • ↑ https://morningside.libguides.com/APA7/references
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/03/
  • ↑ https://libraryguides.vu.edu.au/harvard/sample-reference-list
  • ↑ Cite articles
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/
  • ↑ https://www.scribbr.com/mla/works-cited/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_page_basic_format.html
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/06/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/07/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/02/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/03/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/05/

About This Article

Diane Stubbs

To create an APA bibliography, title a separate page at the end of your paper "References." Then, use the authors' last names to organize your list alphabetically, for example by writing the author John Adam Smith as "Smith, J. A." If a source has more than 7 authors, list the first 7 before adding an ellipses. To cite an article, include the author's name, year of publication, article title, publication title, and page numbers. When citing a book, begin with the author's name, then the date of publication, title in Italics, location of the publisher, and publisher's name. For tips on how to write an MLA or CMS bibliography, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How To Write a Bibliography (Three Styles, Plus Examples)

Give credit where credit is due.

Text that says Bibliography Writing Guide with WeAreTeachers logo on dark gray background as a tool to help students understand how to write a bibliography

Writing a research paper involves a lot of work. Students need to consult a variety of sources to gather reliable information and ensure their points are well supported. Research papers include a bibliography, which can be a little tricky for students. Learn how to write a bibliography in multiple styles and find basic examples below.

IMPORTANT: Each style guide has its own very specific rules, and they often conflict with one another. Additionally, each type of reference material has many possible formats, depending on a variety of factors. The overviews shown here are meant to guide students in writing basic bibliographies, but this information is by no means complete. Students should always refer directly to the preferred style guide to ensure they’re using the most up-to-date formats and styles.

What is a bibliography?

When you’re researching a paper, you’ll likely consult a wide variety of sources. You may quote some of these directly in your work, summarize some of the points they make, or simply use them to further the knowledge you need to write your paper. Since these ideas are not your own, it’s vital to give credit to the authors who originally wrote them. This list of sources, organized alphabetically, is called a bibliography.

A bibliography should include all the materials you consulted in your research, even if you don’t quote directly from them in your paper. These resources could include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Books and e-books
  • Periodicals like magazines or newspapers
  • Online articles or websites
  • Primary source documents like letters or official records

Bibliography vs. References

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings. As noted above, a bibliography includes all the materials you used while researching your paper, whether or not you quote from them or refer to them directly in your writing.

A list of references only includes the materials you cite throughout your work. You might use direct quotes or summarize the information for the reader. Either way, you must ensure you give credit to the original author or document. This section can be titled “List of Works Cited” or simply “References.”

Your teacher may specify whether you should include a bibliography or a reference list. If they don’t, consider choosing a bibliography, to show all the works you used in researching your paper. This can help the reader see that your points are well supported, and allow them to do further reading on their own if they’re interested.

Bibliography vs. Citations

Citations refer to direct quotations from a text, woven into your own writing. There are a variety of ways to write citations, including footnotes and endnotes. These are generally shorter than the entries in a reference list or bibliography. Learn more about writing citations here.

What does a bibliography entry include?

Depending on the reference material, bibliography entries include a variety of information intended to help a reader locate the material if they want to refer to it themselves. These entries are listed in alphabetical order, and may include:

  • Author/s or creator/s
  • Publication date
  • Volume and issue numbers
  • Publisher and publication city
  • Website URL

These entries don’t generally need to include specific page numbers or locations within the work (except for print magazine or journal articles). That type of information is usually only needed in a footnote or endnote citation.

What are the different bibliography styles?

In most cases, writers use one of three major style guides: APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), or The Chicago Manual of Style . There are many others as well, but these three are the most common choices for K–12 students.

Many teachers will state their preference for one style guide over another. If they don’t, you can choose your own preferred style. However, you should also use that guide for your entire paper, following their recommendations for punctuation, grammar, and more. This will ensure you are consistent throughout.

Below, you’ll learn how to write a simple bibliography using each of the three major style guides. We’ve included details for books and e-books, periodicals, and electronic sources like websites and videos. If the reference material type you need to include isn’t shown here, refer directly to the style guide you’re using.

APA Style Bibliography and Examples

APA style example of a References bibliography page

Source: Verywell Mind

Technically, APA style calls for a list of references instead of a bibliography. If your teacher requires you to use the APA style guide , you can limit your reference list only to items you cite throughout your work.

How To Write a Bibliography (References) Using APA Style

Here are some general notes on writing an APA reference list:

  • Title your bibliography section “References” and center the title on the top line of the page.
  • Do not center your references; they should be left-aligned. For longer items, subsequent lines should use a hanging indent of 1/2 inch.
  • Include all types of resources in the same list.
  • Alphabetize your list by author or creator, last name first.
  • Do not spell out the author/creator’s first or middle name; only use their initials.
  • If there are multiple authors/creators, use an ampersand (&) before the final author/creator.
  • Place the date in parentheses.
  • Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle, unless the word would otherwise be capitalized (proper names, etc.).
  • Italicize the titles of books, periodicals, or videos.
  • For websites, include the full site information, including the http:// or https:// at the beginning.

Books and E-Books APA Bibliography Examples

For books, APA reference list entries use this format (only include the publisher’s website for e-books).

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Publication date). Title with only first word capitalized . Publisher. Publisher’s website

  • Wynn, S. (2020). City of London at war 1939–45 . Pen & Sword Military. https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/City-of-London-at-War-193945-Paperback/p/17299

Periodical APA Bibliography Examples

For journal or magazine articles, use this format. If you viewed the article online, include the URL at the end of the citation.

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Publication date). Title of article. Magazine or Journal Title (Volume number) Issue number, page numbers. URL

  • Bell, A. (2009). Landscapes of fear: Wartime London, 1939–1945. Journal of British Studies (48) 1, 153–175. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25482966

Here’s the format for newspapers. For print editions, include the page number/s. For online articles, include the full URL.

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year, Month Date) Title of article. Newspaper title. Page number/s. URL

  • Blakemore, E. (2022, November 12) Researchers track down two copies of fossil destroyed by the Nazis.  The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/11/12/ichthyosaur-fossil-images-discovered/

Electronic APA Bibliography Examples

For articles with a specific author on a website, use this format.

Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year, Month Date). Title . Site name. URL

  • Wukovits, J. (2023, January 30). A World War II survivor recalls the London Blitz . British Heritage . https://britishheritage.com/history/world-war-ii-survivor-london-blitz

When an online article doesn’t include a specific author or date, list it like this:

Title . (Year, Month Date). Site name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL

  • Growing up in the Second World War . (n.d.). Imperial War Museums. Retrieved May 12, 2023, from https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/growing-up-in-the-second-world-war

When you need to list a YouTube video, use the name of the account that uploaded the video, and format it like this:

Name of Account. (Upload year, month day). Title [Video]. YouTube. URL

  • War Stories. (2023, January 15). How did London survive the Blitz during WW2? | Cities at war: London | War stories [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/uwY6JlCvbxc

For more information on writing APA bibliographies, see the APA Style Guide website.

APA Bibliography (Reference List) Example Pages

An APA-style Reference List bibliography example page

Source: Simply Psychology

More APA example pages:

  • Western Australia Library Services APA References Example Page
  • Ancilla College APA References Page Example
  • Scribbr APA References Page Example

MLA Style Bibliography Examples

Diagram of MLA style bibliography entries

Source: PressBooks

MLA style calls for a Works Cited section, which includes all materials quoted or referred to in your paper. You may also include a Works Consulted section, including other reference sources you reviewed but didn’t directly cite. Together, these constitute a bibliography. If your teacher requests an MLA Style Guide bibliography, ask if you should include Works Consulted as well as Works Cited.

How To Write a Bibliography (Works Cited and Works Consulted) in MLA Style

For both MLA Works Cited and Works Consulted sections, use these general guidelines:

  • Start your Works Cited list on a new page. If you include a Works Consulted list, start that on its own new page after the Works Cited section.
  • Center the title (Works Cited or Works Consulted) in the middle of the line at the top of the page.
  • Align the start of each source to the left margin, and use a hanging indent (1/2 inch) for the following lines of each source.
  • Alphabetize your sources using the first word of the citation, usually the author’s last name.
  • Include the author’s full name as listed, last name first.
  • Capitalize titles using the standard MLA format.
  • Leave off the http:// or https:// at the beginning of a URL.

Books and E-Books MLA Bibliography Examples

For books, MLA reference list entries use this format. Add the URL at the end for e-books.

Last Name, First Name Middle Name. Title . Publisher, Date. URL

  • Wynn, Stephen. City of London at War 1939–45 . Pen & Sword Military, 2020. www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/City-of-London-at-War-193945-Paperback/p/17299

Periodical MLA Bibliography Examples

Here’s the style format for magazines, journals, and newspapers. For online articles, add the URL at the end of the listing.

For magazines and journals:

Last Name, First Name. “Title: Subtitle.” Name of Journal , volume number, issue number, Date of Publication, First Page Number–Last Page Number.

  • Bell, Amy. “Landscapes of Fear: Wartime London, 1939–1945.” Journal of British Studies , vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 153–175. www.jstor.org/stable/25482966

When citing newspapers, include the page number/s for print editions or the URL for online articles.

Last Name, First Name. “Title of article.” Newspaper title. Page number/s. Year, month day. Page number or URL

  • Blakemore, Erin. “Researchers Track Down Two Copies of Fossil Destroyed by the Nazis.” The Washington Post. 2022, Nov. 12. www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/11/12/ichthyosaur-fossil-images-discovered/

Electronic MLA Bibliography Examples

Last Name, First Name. Year. “Title.” Month Day, Year published. URL

  • Wukovits, John. 2023. “A World War II Survivor Recalls the London Blitz.” January 30,   2023. https://britishheritage.com/history/world-war-ii-survivor-london-blitz

Website. n.d. “Title.” Accessed Day Month Year. URL.

  • Imperial War Museum. n.d. “Growing Up in the Second World War.” Accessed May 9, 2023. https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/growing-up-in-the-second-world-war.

Here’s how to list YouTube and other online videos.

Creator, if available. “Title of Video.” Website. Uploaded by Username, Day Month Year. URL.

  • “How did London survive the Blitz during WW2? | Cities at war: London | War stories.” YouTube . Uploaded by War Stories, 15 Jan. 2023. youtu.be/uwY6JlCvbxc.

For more information on writing MLA style bibliographies, see the MLA Style website.

MLA Bibliography (Works Cited) Example Pages

A bibliography example page with notes, written in MLA style

Source: The Visual Communication Guy

More MLA example pages:

  • Writing Commons Sample Works Cited Page
  • Scribbr MLA Works Cited Sample Page
  • Montana State University MLA Works Cited Page

Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

The Chicago Manual of Style (sometimes called “Turabian”) actually has two options for citing reference material : Notes and Bibliography and Author-Date. Regardless of which you use, you’ll need a complete detailed list of reference items at the end of your paper. The examples below demonstrate how to write that list.

How To Write a Bibliography Using The Chicago Manual of Style

A diagram of a book bibliography entry for the Chicago Manual of Style

Source: South Texas College

Here are some general notes on writing a Chicago -style bibliography:

  • You may title it “Bibliography” or “References.” Center this title at the top of the page and add two blank lines before the first entry.
  • Left-align each entry, with a hanging half-inch indent for subsequent lines of each entry.
  • Single-space each entry, with a blank line between entries.
  • Include the “http://” or “https://” at the beginning of URLs.

Books and E-Books Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

For books, Chicago -style reference list entries use this format. (For print books, leave off the information about how the book was accessed.)

Last Name, First Name Middle Name. Title . City of Publication: Publisher, Date. How e-book was accessed.

  • Wynn, Stephen. City of London at War 1939–45 . Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2020. Kindle edition.

Periodical Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

For journal and magazine articles, use this format.

Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. “Title: Subtitle.” Name of Journal , Volume Number, issue number, First Page Number–Last Page Number. URL.

  • Bell, Amy. 2009. “Landscapes of Fear: Wartime London, 1939–1945.” Journal of British Studies, 48 no. 1, 153–175. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25482966.

When citing newspapers, include the URL for online articles.

Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. “Title: Subtitle.” Name of Newspaper , Month day, year. URL.

  • Blakemore, Erin. 2022. “Researchers Track Down Two Copies of Fossil Destroyed by the Nazis.” The Washington Post , November 12, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/11/12/ichthyosaur-fossil-images-discovered/.

Electronic Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Examples

Last Name, First Name Middle Name. “Title.” Site Name . Year, Month Day. URL.

  • Wukovits, John. “A World War II Survivor Recalls the London Blitz.” British Heritage. 2023, Jan. 30. britishheritage.com/history/world-war-ii-survivor-london-blitz.

“Title.” Site Name . URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

  • “Growing Up in the Second World War.” Imperial War Museums . www.iwm.org.uk/history/growing-up-in-the-second-world-war. Accessed May 9, 2023.

Creator or Username. “Title of Video.” Website video, length. Month Day, Year. URL.

  • War Stories. “How Did London Survive the Blitz During WW2? | Cities at War: London | War Stories.” YouTube video, 51:25. January 15, 2023. https://youtu.be/uwY6JlCvbxc.

For more information on writing Chicago -style bibliographies, see the Chicago Manual of Style website.

Chicago Manual of Style Bibliography Example Pages

A page showing an example of a bibliography using the Chicago Manual of Style

Source: Chicago Manual of Style

More Chicago example pages:

  • Scribbr Chicago Style Bibliography Example
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab CMOS Bibliography Page
  • Bibcitation Sample Chicago Bibliography

Now that you know how to write a bibliography, take a look at the Best Websites for Teaching & Learning Writing .

Plus, get all the latest teaching tips and ideas when you sign up for our free newsletters .

Learn how to write a bibliography using MLA, ALA, and Chicago Manual of Style, plus see examples for each style and more.

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Click here to download a  Bibliography scaffold

Select the link below to access an online bibliography generator.,       easybib, bibliographies and referencing.

  • confirm where you found your information
  • demonstrate the range of resources you have used
  • check useful resources to use another time
  • check for plagiarism
  • acknowledge the work of others.

General guidelines and information:

  • keep a record of the sources you use as you go
  • add your bibliography on a separately at end of your work with the heading Bibliography
  • arrange items in alphabetical order according to author, or title when there is no author
  • use italics for the main title
  • take note of correct punctuation, as shown in examples
  • include the date on which you viewed website pages and add the URL.
  • p. stands for page; pp. for pages.

Information included in a bibliography:

  • author's surname/s, then first name or initials
  • year of publication 
  • title - in italics 
  • publication details – publisher and place of publication.

Books Edwards, Paul. 2006,   7 Keys to Successful Study.   ACER, Hawthorn.

Marsden, J.B. 2003, Everything I know about writing. Allen and Unwin, Port Melbourne.

Books with more than one author Cameron, K., Lawless, J., and Young, C. 2000, Investigating Australia's 20th Century History . Nelson, Southbank.

Encyclopedia entry

‘Education' , Encyclopedia Britannica. 1998, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., Chicago. Vol.4. p. 373.

Encyclopedia (online)

‘Literature for Children,'  World Book Online. viewed 4 June 2010, http://www.worldbookonline.com

Website (with author)

Credaro, Alex. Constructing Bibliographies. viewed June 14, 2010, http://www.geocities.com/koalakid_1999/loyola/biblio.html

Website (no author)

‘Origins of society: fact and myth', Skwirk. viewed 6 June, 2010, http://www.skwirk.com.

Journal and newspaper articles

Kluger, J. 2008, ‘ The battle to save your memory' , Time Magazine. 12 June, pp. 52-57.

Oaten, C. 2008, ‘ Open your house to the sun' , The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 September, p. 3.

Completed example:


Credaro, Alex. 2000 Constructing bibliographies . viewed June 14, 2010, http://www.geocities.com/koalakid_1999/loyola/biblio.html

Edwards, Paul. 2006, 7 Keys to Successful Study . ACER, Hawthorn.

‘Education' , Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., Chicago. Vol.4. p. 373.

Kluger, J. 2008, ‘ The battle to save your memory' , Time Magazine. 12 June, pp. 52-57.

‘Literature for children',  World Book Online. Viewed 4 June 2010, http://www.worldbookonline.com

Marsden, J.B. 2003, Everything I know about writing . Allen and Unwin, Port Melbourne.

'Origins of the society: fact and myth' , Skwirk. Viewed 6 June, 2010, http://www.skwirk.com

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    HOW TO WRITE A BIBLIOGRAPHY by Rich Gubitosi, Nathan Straus Young Adult Library. A bibliography is an alphabetical list of all the sources you used when