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Citation Styles: Formatting & Style Guides

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All About Bibliographies

General Introduction to Bibliographies

A bibliography is a list of sources used in the research or writing of a particular document, such as an essay, research paper, or book. You probably have to write a bibliography for a paper assigned by one of your instructors.

The purpose of a bibliography is to give credit to the authors and creators of the sources that were consulted, and to provide readers with enough information to locate those sources if they want to read them for themselves. Basically, you want to give credit for the work you used to support your points.

Overall, bibliographies are a crucial tool for researchers, students, and anyone who wants to engage with scholarly work. By providing a list of sources and their relevant information, bibliographies ensure that ideas and information can be traced back to their original sources, and that credit is given where credit is due.

Are you talking about Works Cited? 

A works cited page is a specific type of bibliography that only includes sources that were directly cited in a document, while a bibliography is a broader list of all the sources that were consulted during the research process. Works cited pages are used in certain citation styles and include basic information about each source, while bibliographies may include more detailed information and sources that were not directly cited in the text.

To quote the handy resource, the "Works Cited or References list is only comprised of references to those items actually cited in the paper."

Different Styles

Bibliographies vary widely depending on the citation style you are using. In MLA, it's a "Works Cited" page. In APA, it might be "References." Refer back to the "Citation Styles and Support" section at the top of this guide to make sure you know which style to use for a particular paper, project, or discipline. 

Why a Bibliography?

It's important for college students to cite sources using a bibliography because it demonstrates academic integrity and honesty, and avoids plagiarism. Additionally, a bibliography allows readers to verify the credibility and reliability of the sources used in a paper or research project, which is especially important for academic work. Finally, a bibliography provides a roadmap for future research by guiding students towards relevant and useful sources on a given topic.

Best Practices for Bibliographies 

Start early: Early compilation of a bibliography helps keep track of sources consulted and avoids last-minute stress.

Keep accurate records: Recording complete information about each source including author, title, publisher, publication date, page numbers, and URL (if applicable) simplifies accurate bibliography creation.

Use a citation management tool: Consider using a citation management tool to help you organize your sources. These tools can help you save time and ensure that your citations are accurate and consistent.

Use a consistent citation style: Consistent use of an appropriate citation style throughout the paper and bibliography helps ensure accurate and consistent citations, simplifying source location for readers.

Proofread carefully: Before submitting your paper, make sure to proofread your bibliography carefully to ensure that all the information is accurate, complete, and properly formatted.


An annotated bibliography, according to the UNR Writing & Speaking Center, "is simply a list of sources and a description of each source." So, once you've gathered your sources and you're ready to turn your works cited or reference page into an annotated bibliography, think about "what is pertinent to your paper (or what you think will be pertinent to it)."

Why Annotated?

Your instructor has asked your to write an annotated bibliography—but what's in it for you?

  • By thinking about and contextualizing the importance of each citation, you will have a better idea of how the source fits into your project as a whole.
  • You'll be able to quickly refer to the annotated bibliography during the paper writing process to ensure that you're getting everything you originally noticed out of the resource. 
  • If you've referenced more than five or ten different sources, your own notes on why this particular work is important will save you from having to go back and read through your sources, saving you time in the long run. 

Research Librarian & Instruction Coordinator

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Anne Grant
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