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How to Write a Bibliography

August 11, 2015 - Posted to Helpful tips and How-to's How to Write a Bibliography

How to Write a Bibliography - Understanding Formats

Students enter college with varying degrees of understanding of the formats for essays and papers. Some students were simply told to list their resources used for research papers on a separate page at the back of the paper, and to be certain to give the author and title of the work. They enter college without an understanding of the actual formatting requirements of the two most common styles required by professors/ institutions – MLA and APA.

Bibliography formats are important, if only because points are deducted from an overall grade if the proper citation style is not used. They are also important because, in the writing of academic research works, it is important that anyone who wants to access a resource that was used will have all of the information necessary to access that work.

Below are the basics of how to write a bibliography in both MLA and APA styles. You will see that they are quite similar except for just a few details.

MLA Style

Begin with the title, “Bibliography” centered at the top of the page.

The listing of all sources are alphabetical, according to the author’s last name. If there are several authors, use the last name of the first one listed on the book, followed by the others, separated by comas. Once you get past three names, you simply put “et al.”

Sources are not numbered. The author name is at the left margin, and each additional line is indented 6 spaces. Double space between source listing.

Books: Here is an example of the listing of a book:

Jones, William, The Battle of Antietam, New York: Doubleday Publishing, 1997.

Magazine Articles: Here is an example:

Jones, William, “The Battle of Antietam,” Civil War Journal, Vol 6, #3, January, 1997, pp. 36-53.

Web-Based Resource: Here is an example:

Jones, William, “The Battle of Antietam,” Civil War Journal (title of website), Sept. 28, 1997 (date you accessed).

APA Style

You will find that the APA style bibliography format style is almost exactly like the MLA format, with one notable exception. Magazine articles and titles of web-based articles are not encased in parentheses.

Your Professor’s Responsibility

It is the responsibility of your professor to indicate which style you are to use when producing research works. In most instances, you will be given a style guide, so use it. In other instances you will be told to go online and download a free style guide from one of many sources.

For the Lazy

If you are a bit lazy or concerned that you will not format your bibliography correctly, then you have a couple of choices. There are apps that will create the citation for you, once you enter all of the information and the required style. Your other option is to turn the information over to a writing service, specify the style, and let one of their formatting experts produce it.

One final note here: Do not get sloppy about your bibliography. Most professors are pretty picky and want their instructions followed.

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