What is a Bibliography?

At some point in every student's life the need to know what a bibliography is and how it is used will arise. A bibliography is an essential part of a research paper or term paper because it lets the reader of the paper know what sources the author used to reach his conclusions and where he found certain facts.


A bibliography is a list of all the works that the author consulted in writing the paper. A bibliography contains sources that used not just in the paper itself, but also in any footnotes or endnotes. A bibliography can be either a simple list or it can be annotated, meaning that the use of the source is specifically delineated.


A bibliography is listed in alphabetical order according to the last name of the author of each source. The entry itself is divided into three parts beginning with the author's name, then the title of the source. Then any facts related to publication are listed such as publisher, magazine, or website.

Multiple Authors

A bibliography often contains a source that is attributed to more than one author. The primary author is listed first and is the author by which alphabetizing is arranged. The remaining authors should be listed in the order in which they appear on the source. First names or initial are both fine as long as the choice remains uniform throughout.

Annotated Bibliography

The annotated bibliography differs from the standard by virtue of the addition of information related to the actual use of the source. Among the items that are usually included in the annotation are those that relate to the relevance of the source and how it was utilized in the writing process as well as information about the accuracy and quality of the source material.


Just as there are different styles of citing sources, so are there different styles for creating a bibliography. Often the bibliography is referred to as a "works cited" page or simply as "references." Consult a handbook on the citation style you are using--such as MLA, Harvard, APA, Turabian, or Chicago--for more information the proper layout of your paper's bibliography.

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