A bibliography is a list that the author writes out giving the names and book/journal names that they have referred to or used in their writing.

Layouts differ, but an entry for a book in a bibliography normally contains common information about it:

author(s) An entry for a journal or periodical article usually contains:

  • author(s)
  • article title
  • journal title
  • volume
  • pages
  • date of publication
  • title
  • publisher
  • date of publication

An entry for a journal or periodical article normally contains:

A bibliography, which may be arranged by author, topic, or some other scheme.

Interpretative bibliographies provide accounts of how every source is of use to an author in formulating a paper or argument. These accounts are normally a number of sentences in length, offer a summary of the source and highlight its usefulness. Bibliographies are different from library catalogues by accumulating all useful items rather than all items that are actually in a specific library. Even though, some national libraries’ catalogues also act as national bibliographies, as they include almost all of their countries’ publications.


References are useful to set your ideas apart from those of others and include your sources. As well as, allowing the reader to pursue further if  s/he has an interest in the source you have used.

The difference between a bibliography and a reference list

A: Reference List, Works Cited, Literature Cited, Sources Cited, References, all of these phrases relate to a list of sources actually referred to throughout your work.

B: Bibliography, Bibliographical References, all of these terms relate to a list of sources that can be located at the end of your work in alphabetical order by the authors’ last name. In some situations, this list might include books you have read, but you have not actually made a mention of in your work. It is necessary to check your institution’s guidelines as it is not always allowable to add sources that you have not actually used in your own writing.

Endnotes and footnotes

Footnotes are added to complement your statements in the main body of your essay. Put in numerically programmed by your computer, they add yet another option you may use to refer to other relevant and insightful information that might not necessarily be strictly relevant to your current essay. Footnotes can be placed at the end of each of the pages or on their own page at the end (called endnotes).

Essay referencing help

When you write a scholarly essay, it is important to use the correct referencing style.

Your college or university will have advised you of the particular referencing style to which you need to adhere but ask if you do not know, as it is crucial that you get it right. You can usually find advice in your departmental handbook or on your department’s section of the university website.

There are many different referencing styles in current usage, most of which require slightly different presentation of references throughout your essay and in your bibliography.

Build your references while you write:

While undertaking the research for information for your essay, it is a good idea to jot down the author, title and publication details of each source you refer to in the referencing style that is required, as this will make it a whole lot easier for you to put together your references and bibliography, and you will grow used to the particular referencing style that is required. It’s absolutely essential that you use only one style throughout the writing.

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 Here are the different referencing styles:

(Click an item in the list to find out more information)

  • Harvard Referencing
  • Oxford Referencing
  • OSCOLA Referencing
  • APA Referencing
  • MLA Referencing
  • Turabian Referencing
  • Chicago Referencing
  • Open University Referencing
  • Vancouver Referencing
  • MHRA Referencing
  • BMJ Referencing
  • Referencing Software

Why do we reference?

You must put references in your work so as to be able to single out your ideas from those of others and acknowledge your sources of information. Also, it allows the reader to pursue further if s/he is interested in the source you have alluded to.

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