Bibliography: How to Write, Types, Format Examples, Tips

The article explains the essential part played by bibliography in any research or academic work. It explains the significance and importance of a bibliography with the help of examples. Further, it explores different types of formats to write a bibliography along with format examples with tips. Guidelines and tricks are mentioned in the article to help the writer critically arrange his/her work and add value to it.

What is Bibliography?

How to Write Bibliography

Research, articles, and assignments require intensive resource gathering and data collection. There are two types of data, primary and secondary data. A primary dataset is directly collected from the subjects, meaning it is fresh and brand-new. A secondary data set is based on information that is already available. A bibliography is a collection of information sources that have been gathered and analysed. It can be defined as a meticulously crafted list of all the resources one has used while doing painstaking research. It is the credit given to the authors of books or scholarly articles along with newspaper editorials and columns. It also includes Government archives, private documents, videos, audio, speeches and letters. In short, any information that has been used during the process of gathering knowledge for your specific project is in hand.

It is pronounced as bi·blee·aw·gruh·fee and is one of the most important components written at the end of any academic writing. It is often confused with a reference list but there is a stark difference between the two. Generally, a reference list contains citations of articles or references cited within a given assignment or research paper. When an author’s work is quoted or alluded to in the thesis or dissertation, it comes under in-text citations. On the other hand, Bibliography is a comprehensive list of all the sources of information and materials one has gone through to understand concepts and formulate ideas. Both reference lists and bibliographies can be included in the same paper.


  • A bibliography is a one-stop source for the readers to understand the sources the author must have consulted. In the future, if they decide to learn more about it, they will be able to track down that specific source.
  • It gives credit and acknowledgement to others’ hard work. Writing down a bibliography is the proper way to do it when using someone else’s work and recognising them.
  • It establishes the authenticity of the writing and the research that is done. It also indicates that content ( both studied and produced ) is authentic and reliable.
  • In addition to strengthening the author’s idea and thought process, it helps to convey the message to the audience.
  • In the bibliography, both primary and secondary data can be cited. Also, it assists the reader in understanding that the information taken into consideration is updated and factually accurate.
  • An organised and detail-oriented bibliography also denotes that it is a well-researched piece of work and not done in a haphazard manner.
  • It supports the notion of the author. The facts, numbers or statistics mentioned can be traced back to their source with the help of a bibliography thus helping readers verify them.
  • An elaborate bibliography at the end of the research or an article is not just a mere formality. But it describes a well-written and well-researched piece of work. Besides judging the quality of the author’s work, it also helps to determine his or her competency.
  • A bibliography enhances the value of articles and research.

Bibliography vs References

A reference list contains only sources you have cited in-text in your assignment. A bibliography is a list of all the sources you used to generate your ideas about the topic including those cited in your assignment as well as those you did not cite.

How to write a bibliography:

A detailed and well-written bibliography gives a finishing touch to the work of the author. The author has to keep track and list all the sources he/she is using to gather data and information so that it doesn’t turn out to be a tedious task in the end.

Before writing your bibliography make sure you have the following information with you-

  1. Author’s name and surname. The surname should always come first.
  2. The book or article’s name. It should be in single or double inverted quotes.
  3. Journal or newspaper title in Italics.
  4. The volume, edition or issue number.
  5. The year, and date of publication.
  6. The pages of the material.

There are various formats which are followed by authors, academics and students. The most common forms are MLA Style, APA Style, Harvard Style and Chicago Style.

  1. MLA Style format for writing bibliography-

The MLA guidelines are published by the Modern Language Association(MLA) and the recently updated version of 2021 states 9 rules that need to be followed while writing the sources in this format. It is widely used in humanities and liberal arts.

The core content of MLA style bibliography:

The pattern for MLA format is – Author. “Source Title.” Container Title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

A.Name – The surname or the last name of the Author should be mentioned first. If there are two authors then both of them need to be listed. If there are more than three authors of a single source then use “et al” after writing the first name.

  •  Marx, Karl.
  • Pratchett, Terry and Gaiman, Neil.
  • Durkheim, Emile, et al.

B.Source Title– Mention the title of the book, newspaper, magazine or journal which is studied or examined.

  •   Whenever the source is part of a larger work (e.g., a book chapter, a web page, a journal article), place quotation marks around it 
  • An entire book or movie, for example, should be put in italics.

C. The container-The container is the larger work in which the source is included. Its name is always italicised.

  • For book chapters, short stories, or poems, the container is a book.
  • Journals, newspapers, and magazines serve as containers for articles.
  • Websites are containers for web pages.

D. Other contributors– Here the contribution of other parties like the translator or editor needs to be mentioned.

  • Translated by Priya Singh
  • Edited by Ruth B               

E. Version– Every content out there is modified and updated from time to time and that needs to be mentioned as well

  • 2nd version.
  • Directors cut or directions vision (in case of videos or films)

F.  Number – If there are multiple parts of the content then one needs to mention the specific part used so that there is clarity.

  •  Book 3, section 2.

 E. Publisher – the name of the publisher is very essential to mention

  •   Penguin Publishers
  •   Oxford Publishers.

G. Publication date– In the case of magazines, publications, books and newspapers the date need to be mentioned. In the case of online publications or uploaded videos, the timing can be added too.

H. Location– the geographical location or the URL of the sources also need to be mentioned so that it becomes easier to track.

    Example –  Hawking, Stephen. “The Theory Of Everything”, 2nd Ed. Jaico Publications,2002. The United States.

  1. APA Style format for writing bibliography-

The American Psychological Association or the APA format is widely used and common in all the fields pertinent to social sciences and is used by academics and researchers. It helps to formulate the sources succinctly. The content written in the APA format has little similarity with the MLA format.

The pattern for APA style format is Author’s Last Name, Initial(s). (Year of publication). Title of book (Edition ed.). Publisher. The format can vary as per the source. For instance, it will be different for websites or any multimedia. The publication and edited time will also be used.

A. Name – The last name of the author should be mentioned, and the first name should be reduced to initials.

  • Tripathi, A.

B. Year – the year of the publication of the book needs to be mentioned after the author’s name. If the cited source is a magazine or newspaper or website then the year, the month and the date of the publication have to be added in parentheses.

  • Tripathi, A. (2022)

 C.  Title- The title of the book, video, article or website should be italicised and written after the year and date.

  • Tripathi, A. (2022). The War Of Lanka.        

D. Edition – The books or journals and publications are constantly updated so The version or edition number needs to be mentioned as well.

  • Tripathi, A. (2022) The War Of Lanka. (1st ed.)

E. Publisher – The publisher’s name should be mentioned after the edition. If it is an online source, the website URL needs to be mentioned. It can be done in the case of newspaper articles or journals whose links are available online.

  • Tripathi, A. (2022) The War Of Lanka. (1st ed.) HarperCollins India.                  

    Example – Hawgood, A. (2021, September 26). Six-Figure Artworks, By A  

Fifth Grader. NewYork Times. https://URL.

3.  Harvard Style format for writing bibliography –    

 Another popular referencing style using the author-date system is the Harvard referencing styleThe title of the work is mentioned along with the publications and location.

  • If it is in the case of the book then the format should be -The Author’s Surname, Initials of the first name. (Year) Book Title. City: Publisher.

Example – Alterman, L.  (2022), The Perfect Neighbourhood. New York City: Crooked Lane Books.

If a specific chapter or page is referred to then those details can be added as well.

  • If the source is taken from newspaper articles then the format should be- The Author’s last name and the initials of the first name. (Year) “Article Title “, Newspaper Name, date, page number. Along with the URL if available.

Example – Khan, A. (2020), “The Pandemic Is Not Over Yet”, Global Times, August 25, Page 5.

            4. Chicago Style format for writing bibliography –

 The Chicago Style of writing bibliography is also called the Turabian format. A Chicago-style bibliography provides information about the sources cited in your text. An entry in the bibliography begins with the author’s name, the title of the source, and relevant publication information. The structure of the Chicago style is somewhat similar to the rest of the bibliography formats but it is the most used format in America and the Author’s first and last name is mentioned entirely in this format.

The format of Chicago Style – Author’s last name, first name. Title of the book: Subtitle. The edition. The publisher and the year of publication. URL/DOI.

  • If the entire book is taken into consideration then you can just mention the book. Example- Clear, James. Atomic Habits.1st ed. Penguin Random House, 2018.
  • If a particular chapter of the book is taken into consideration to emphasise a point in the research or article then it needs to be highlighted as well.

Example -Clear, James.Chapter – “ The Surprising Power Of Tiny Habits”. In the book –Atomic Habits pages 1-30.1st ed. Penguin Random House, 2018.

Types of Bibliography-

In a bibliography, sources are listed in a detailed manner. For instance, when the source is from a book, then the author’s name along with the publication date and other basic information must be included in the bibliography. There are various types of bibliography that one can come across while compiling a list of sources.

  1. Enumerated Bibliography
  2. Annotated Bibliography
  3. Analytical Bibliography

 As part of our discussion, we will examine a topic to better understand the use and purpose of different types of bibliographies. Consider the case of a student writing a dissertation on “Social Development in Childhood.”Before starting the dissertation, students will read and consume content that will help him/her understand the topic more broadly. Since all the sources have been used to postulate theories and generate ideas by the student, it is necessary to give credit to the owner, source or author of that information. This is where the student starts assembling his/her list of all the sources used.

  1. Enumerated Bibliography – 

In this type of bibliography, you have to mention the basic list of information of all the sources gathered and used. If the student has gone through the books related to social development for his dissertation, he/she has to include the books and author’s name, date and place of publication along with the number of pages.

Example- Midgley. J,(2013), “Social Development: Theory and Practice”,(1st Edition), USA, Sage Publications. Here all the details about the book are mentioned so that the reader understands that the source is credible and can use it for future reference or study.

  • Annotated Bibliography –

The source description and information should be provided in brief along with the basic information available in this type of bibliography. There needs to be a clear indication of the author’s point of view. It helps the readers to understand things from the perspective of the author. For instance, if the source is taken from the book, then a paragraph should be added mentioning the thoughts of the author along with the main points, examples and arguments mentioned in the book. It should be a summary of the book.

Example- After mentioning the name and publication of the book, the writer can add an abstract about social development and the theories highlighted in the book.

 “Social Development: Theory and Practice by Midgley. J walks us through the key theoretical principles and practice strategies of social development. It deals with the history of social development in various aspects like social planning, employment, community engagements, interpersonal skills and so on.”

The format of the paragraph is however dependent on the writer, publications and professors in case of assignments and dissertations.

  • Analytical Bibliography –

Booksellers’ and printers’ names are given in analytical bibliographies, as are descriptions of paper and binding, along with any insights revealed throughout the process of developing the content and converting it into a published work. It attributes to the physical information and knowledge about the source. It also includes descriptive bibliography where the given source is described in such a way that it is recognisable by the reader. It, the historical bibliography comes under this section. Here the evolution of the source is also tracked.

For example – if the researcher mentions, “Social Development: Theory and Practice” then along with it the different insights of the Author, the texture of the book cover or the description of the book cover can be mentioned for it to be easily recognised by the reader. If there are different volumes of the book, then the rectifications and corrections or additions made to the newer versions of the book can be mentioned.

Tips to write-

  • Whenever you are writing an article, research paper, dissertation or assignment make sure to keep a track of all the sources you are using. So that at the last moment you don’t have to search haphazardly for them.
  • Make sure your bibliography list is arranged in alphabetical order, by author’s last name.
  • Always have more than 3 sources of written information on your topic.
  • Make sure to include information to help readers identify what kind of source you have used. For example, a book, journal or video. Add a link if possible.
  • Crosscheck whether you have attached the sources to support your work and have mentioned others’ work as well to avoid plagiarism.
  • Consult your professor or mentor to select the format of your bibliography.
  • All the sources must be arranged in the same way.
  • When you cannot find the author’s name, alphabetize using the title of the book or article. 
  • A book or article with more than one author should be alphabetized by the first author.
  • It is recommended to start every new source on a new line.
  • Ensure that your assignment includes a bibliography at the end of it.

A Bibliography is not just a formality but it completes the assignment and gives credibility to your work. It makes sure your work is not plagiarised as well as helps individuals in referring sources, cross-checking them and utilising them. A bibliography is the most essential part of your research to end it on a high note!


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