How to Write Bibliography References

Whenever you research using a book, magazine, newspaper article or website for a term paper, article or essay, you have to list your sources at the end. Traditionally, this list has been called a bibliography although it is more usual now to title it the "Works Cited List." Most teachers and editors ask for the bibliography references to be formatted according to the style set by the Modern Language Association. Usually the requirement states that you have to use MLA Style.

Step 1

Arrange the bibliography references in alphabetical order according to the author's last name. If there is more than one author, look at the title page of the book or article to find the first author listed there. This is the name that will also go first on your bibliography. If there is no author's name listed, use the name of the editor. If there is absolutely no one named, place the reference in your list according to the first word of the title.

Step 2

Start with the author's last name whenever you are listing a book or article in your bibliography. Separate the author's last name from the first name with a comma and put the middle initial after the first name followed by a period. When there are two or three authors, follow the first author's name with a comma instead. Then put the second author's first name followed by the last name and another comma if there is a third author. This author's name should also be written first name first. Put a period after the final author's name. If, however, there are even more than three authors, add the Latin phrase "et al" after the third author's name. End the list with a period. If instead of an author there is an editor, place the abbreviation "ed." after the period following the editor's name.

Step 3

Write the title next. The main words of titles are capitalized. Titles are underlined, surrounded by quotation marks and end with a period within the quotation marks. The title of the article is followed by the name of the periodical, journal, newspaper or website that published it. This name is underlined and followed by another period.

Step 4

Write the place where a book was published after its title. The city name is followed by a comma and then the postal abbreviation of the state's name, followed by a colon (with no space between the state and colon, and one space after the colon). Then comes the name of the publishing company, such as Harper & Row, or Thomas Nelson, followed by a comma and the year that the book was published.

Step 5

List which edition of a magazine, periodical, newspaper, journal or website carried the article you are citing. Put a period after the name of the periodical. Next put the day of the month, a space, the three letter abbreviation for the month (except May, June, July), and a colon (again, the colon is directly follows the month, and a space follows the colon). Add the page number or numbers of the article. For a website, just list the URL address for the article if there is not a date.


Some websites provide instructions about how to write citations, or bibliography references, for the articles they carry.

Things You'll Need

  • List of sources
  • Authors of each source
  • Publishers of each source
  • Copyright dates of each source