How to Properly Format a Bibliography

A bibliography is an alphabetical list of the sources that have been cited in an essay that is placed on a separate page at the end of the essay. While most essay types contain some kind of source list, the term “bibliography” is most commonly associated with essays written in the Chicago Manual of Style format. CMS provides specific guidelines for such things as properly formatting a bibliography page, margins, order and what to include in source citations.

Step 1

Begin a new page at the end of the essay. Do not place the bibliography at the end of a page that contains part of the essay. It must be a separate page at the end.

Step 2

Adjust the margins on the page to 1 inch all around.

Step 3

Place the title “Bibliography” at the top of the page. The title should be capitalized and centered. Do not make it bold, italicize or underline it.

Step 4

Place the last name of the essay’s author and the page number in the upper right corner of the page. This information should already be on each page of the essay, so just continue numbering the bibliography pages.

Step 5

Arrange the citations in alphabetical order according to authors’ last names. If a source does not have an author, place in alphabetical order according to the title of the work.

Step 6

Indent each entry on the bibliography using hanging indentation. This means that the first line of the citation is at the left margin and all of the lines of the citation that follow should be indented five spaces.

Step 7

Single space lines within an entry, but add a double space between entries.


The order of information for each entry in a bibliography varies depending on the type of source. Sources such as Colorado State University's writing guides provide examples of the various types of entries.

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