How to write a Bibliography

You've written the paper, but you still need to add the bibliography. No problem.

First, answer these questions: Do you need a "works cited" page, a bibliography, an annotated bibliography, or a different kind of citation page? What documentation style is required by the assignment?

"A documentation style," according to the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, "is a standard approach to the citation of sources that the author of a paper has consulted, abstracted, or quoted from. It prescribes methods for citing references within the text, providing a list of works cited at the end of the paper, and even formatting headings and margins."

The Writing Center offers a comprehensive guide covering several styles, including APA, Chicago, and MLA.

Next, gather all the sources you used in your research so you have access to the pertinent information. What information needs to be documented? Good question.

"In general, you must document information that originates in someone else's work. All of the following should be accompanied by a reference to the original:

- Direct quotations

- Paraphrases and summaries

- Information and ideas that are not common knowledge or are not available in a standard reference work

- Any borrowed material that might appear to be your own if there were no citation."

Once you know what you need to document, take a look at samples from the required documentation style, and then begin to build your own entries based on those.

One final thing to remember: when in doubt, cite it!


The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin: APA, Chicago, MLA and more.

More on documentation styles

Complete English Grammar Rules is available for purchase as Paperback and Kindle eBook.
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