How to Write a Bibliography

A bibliography is a page or pages at the end of a paper or book that list all of the sources that you referenced or consulted. Bibliographies may include sources not referenced in your work but used as part of your research. Placing a bibliography after your work will provide your reader with the information she needs to find all of the material you've used in your research.

Determine what style of writing you're using. Different academic styles, such as Chicago, Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association, format information differently in bibliographies. If you don't know what style to use, consult your teacher or professor.

Create a list of all sources that you consulted or referenced in your work. Arrange these sources in alphabetical order by the last name of each source's author.

Type the title of your bibliography centered, at the top of your page. For MLA, this is "Works Cited," and for APA, it is "References." There are two types of Chicago style in-text citations: author-date and bibliography-note. Use "References" for author-date and "Bibliography" for bibliography-note. Do not underline, bold or italicize the title.

In alphabetical order, write a citation for each of your sources. A citation will generally include the author, title, publisher and year created. Depending on the citation style, additional information might be included to indicate the source's format.

For example, in MLA style, a book is referenced with the author's name, followed by the title in italics, the publisher's location followed by a colon, then the publisher's name, a comma, and the year and medium of publication. All items are followed by a period, as follows:

Merton, Thomas. No Man is An Island. New York: Harcourt, 1955. Print.

To cite a book in APA style, begin by listing the author's name -- first and middle names use initials. This is followed by the date of the work in parentheses, the title in italics, followed by the publisher's location and name separated by a colon. APA uses the state and city for the publisher's information. Each piece of information is followed by a period:

Forsyth, M. (2012). The horologicon: A day's jaunt through the lost words of the English language. New York, NY: Berkley Books.

Note that in APA style, your references page must only include sources that you directly reference in your paper.

If you reference multiple works by the same author, arrange the works alphabetically by title. In APA style, the author's name is listed for all sources. In Chicago style, the author's name is replaced by six hyphens in citations past the first -- in MLA, three hyphens are used instead.

Chicago-style citations for books list the author's name, title in italics, publisher location and publication year. Location and publisher are separated by a colon, and publisher and year with a comma. The publisher location uses the city, for large cities such as New York, but otherwise includes the city and state. Insert a period after each piece of information:

Wilson, Robert A. Prometheus Rising. Reno, NV: New Falcon Publications, 2008.

------. Quantum Psychology: How Your Brain Programs You & Your World. Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Publications, 2007.

  • Most styles of writing also require you to use in-text citations in the body of your paper.
About the Author

Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.

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