How to Write a Bibliography or Filmography

A reference section is essential at the end of any research paper or most textbooks. A bibliography, or filmography, forms an important part of this section. When writing research papers or other material there are several different formats that can be adopted, each of which has different stylistic requirements. There are, however, basic requirements for any bibliography.

Compile a detailed list of all films or written works applicable to the subject of your work or a list of all sources and reference works cited if you are writing a research document.

Decide on the format you intend to use for the work. For research papers there are several styles used in the U.S. The two most commonly are the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styling. Determine if a particular style is required for your work.

List the books or films concerned in either alphabetical or chronological order, as appropriate. For the MLA format, the details included for a book would be: author's last name, first name, boom title (this should be italicized), additional information, city of publication, publishing company, publication date. An example of how the information should appear would be:

Allen, Thomas B, Vanishing Wildlife of North America, Washington, D.C., National Geographic Society, 1974.

Note that the MLA format requires; second and subsequent lines to be indented by half an inch, the names of any publications to be italicized, capitalization of the first and all other principal words.

Note the differences between MLA and APA formatting. Although similar in many ways, APA requires you to use sentence style capitalization, only using capital letters for the first word of a title or subtitle. The date is also placed after the author’s name in the APA format and only the last name and first initial of the author are shown. Here is how the same information as was shown above would appear in APA.

Allen, T. (1974). Vanishing Wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society

Add an annotation, if required, summarizing the central themes or content of each work referenced. This may either be a purely factual summary or contain opinion and analysis, depending on the style of work you are compiling. It should be kept short.

Number your bibliography and filmography pages when compiling your index or contents pages.

  • When doing research, particularly for student papers, it is likely a particular style will be required for the reference pages. It is very important that any requirements for spacing, order of data and presentation are complied with.
About the Author

Peter Matthews has been a freelance writer since 2004 with works published online for UpDown, Bloomberg and other websites. He has more than 30 years experience in financial markets, during which he has penned everything from conference materials to daily comment pages for organizations such as ABN Amro and Tradition. He is FSA-registered in London and holds series 7 and 24 licenses from the SFA.

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