Careers & Education

How to write a bibliography

By Nancy Livingstone
Info Guru,

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Once you understand how to write a bibliography, the process is fairly simple
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Are you ready to turn in your report? Perhaps. You have spent hours on research, writing your paper and editing. But before you hand in your work, it is important to make sure that you have cited all of the sources you used. A bibliography is usually included at the end of your report and serves as a way to give credit to the resources you used while creating the report. Here's what you need to know about how to write a bibliography.

Gather the Information

While you are doing your research, you will come across a variety of sources. You may look through books, magazines, newspapers, websites, or encyclopedias or you might even conduct interviews or watch an informative film. While you are gathering this information, it is important to keep track of the different sources. You might choose to write down the name of each source on a notecard to stay organized. Another option would be to list the sources on a separate sheet of paper. Be sure to record the title, author, date and place of publication, and publisher of each item. For websites, look to see when the page was last updated. Also record the date that you accessed the site.

Organize the Bibliography

When you are ready to write a bibliography, you'll want to organize the different source information that you have. As a general rule, you should list all sources in alphabetical order according to the authors' last names. If a book has more than one author, order it by the last name of the first author. If a piece does not have an author, such as an encyclopedia, it should be listed in alphabetical order according to the title.

Use the Proper Format

The format to use when creating a bibliography varies greatly. Check with your teacher to find out which style you should use. Common forms for a bibliography include MLA and APA formatting. You may want to check out a guidebook at your library or look for one at a local bookstore. These books provide detailed explanations on how to correctly format your bibliography. The Internet also lists general information on how to properly use MLA or APA formatting. There are also computer programs available that do the work for you - simply enter the information and it generates a bibliography in any format required.

Tips to Remember

If your instructor asks for an annotated bibliography, you will be required to include a short summary of each source on the list. This summary will describe how the source helped you as you wrote the report. Also, your professor may ask for a bibliography that is divided by topics. In this case, you would divide the sources into different categories. Within each category, you would provide an appropriate list of sources.If you have any questions on how to write a bibliography, check with your professor or local librarian. They will be able to help if you are struggling to figure out how to list the different information needed for each source.

Once you understand how to write a bibliography, the process is fairly simple. You list the sources that you used to research your paper. If you stay organized during the process, creating a bibliography will not take long to complete. It gives you the chance to list the sources you used and adds credibility to your work.

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