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How to Write a Bibliography: Referencing Styles Explained
If you aren't familiar with writing bibliographies as part of your assignments, it can feel pretty confusing. Often, bibliographies are an afterthought or something left to the last minute. However, if you collect the information as you study, bibliographies can be a hassle-free part of your project.
In this guide, we explain exactly what a bibliography is, the different referencing styles and where to find the necessary information.
What is a bibliography?
A bibliography is the list of sources you used to build your assignment. You should include anything you actively referenced in your work and anything you read as part of your project's research and learning phase, even if you don't explicitly cite them within your project.
What are primary and secondary sources?
Your course teacher may request you order your bibliography using primary and secondary sources. This is much more simple than it sounds.
A primary source refers to works created by people directly connected with the topic you are writing about. For example, if you are discussing a psychological study , a primary source would be a psychologist who was actively involved in the study.
On the other hand, secondary sources refer to any authors that discuss the topic you are studying but have no direct association.
What should you include in a bibliography?
We recommend compiling your bibliography as you study. Whether or not you directly reference sources, if you use them as part of your studies, they should be included. By collecting this information and building your bibliography as you go, you’ll find it far less stressful and one less thing to worry about.
Information required for referencing printed sources:
- The name of the author.
- The title of the publication or article.
- The date of publication.
- The page number in the book where the citation can be found.
- The name of the publishing company.
- If you’re referencing a magazine or printed encyclopedia, record the volume number.
Information required for referencing web sources:
- The name of the author or editor.
- The title of the webpage.
- The company that created the webpage.
- The URL of the piece.
- The last date you visited the webpage.
Where to find this information
The information you need to include in your bibliography will be located in different places, which can be pretty frustrating, particularly if you’ve left your referencing to the last minute. However, there are a few specific places where this information is likely to be found:
- The contents page (for magazine or journal articles).
- The first, second or editorial page (for newspapers).
- The header or footer of the webpage.
- The contact, or about, page of the website.
What are the different bibliography styles?
In addition to structuring your bibliography correctly, depending on whether your source is a book, magazine, newspaper or webpage, you need to find out what bibliographic style is required.
Different course tutors will ask for a specific referencing style. This means that you simply present your source information in a different order.
There are four main styles that you might be asked to follow: MLA, APA, Harvard or MHRA, and the chosen style will change your reference order:
MRL reference order
- Full name of the author (last name first).
- The title of the book.
- Publication place.
- The name of the book publisher.
- The publication date.
APA/Harvard reference order
- If using Harvard referencing, title your bibliography as ‘References’.
- Author’s last name.
- Author's first initial.
- The publication date (in brackets).
- The book title.
- The publication place.
MHRA reference order
- Author’s first and last name
- The title of the book
- The publication date
Points three to five should all be included in the same bracket.
How to write a bibliography
Whatever the style needed for your bibliography, there are some simple rules to follow for success:
- Collect citation information as you go.
- All citations must be listed alphabetically using the author's last name (if using the MHRA style, use the author’s first name).
- If you can’t source the author's name, alphabetise using the book or article title.
- If there are multiple authors of an article or book, alphabetise by the first author.
- Consistency is key. All the information must be listed in exactly the same way.
- Each source should begin on a new line.
- Bibliographies should be placed at the end of your assignment.
If you’re unsure about constructing your bibliography, get in touch with your tutor , who will be able to help.
We hope this handy guide clears up any confusion you have about referencing styles. If you’re looking to level up your learning, our experienced learning advisers are here to help. For more information, browse our complete range of courses or give us a call on 0121 630 3000.
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A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples
Published on 14 February 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on 15 September 2023.
Referencing is an important part of academic writing. It tells your readers what sources you’ve used and how to find them.
Harvard is the most common referencing style used in UK universities. In Harvard style, the author and year are cited in-text, and full details of the source are given in a reference list .
Harvard Reference Generator
Table of contents
Harvard in-text citation, creating a harvard reference list, harvard referencing examples, referencing sources with no author or date, frequently asked questions about harvard referencing.
A Harvard in-text citation appears in brackets beside any quotation or paraphrase of a source. It gives the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, as well as a page number or range locating the passage referenced, if applicable:
Note that ‘p.’ is used for a single page, ‘pp.’ for multiple pages (e.g. ‘pp. 1–5’).
An in-text citation usually appears immediately after the quotation or paraphrase in question. It may also appear at the end of the relevant sentence, as long as it’s clear what it refers to.
When your sentence already mentions the name of the author, it should not be repeated in the citation:
Sources with multiple authors
When you cite a source with up to three authors, cite all authors’ names. For four or more authors, list only the first name, followed by ‘ et al. ’:
Sources with no page numbers
Some sources, such as websites , often don’t have page numbers. If the source is a short text, you can simply leave out the page number. With longer sources, you can use an alternate locator such as a subheading or paragraph number if you need to specify where to find the quote:
Multiple citations at the same point
When you need multiple citations to appear at the same point in your text – for example, when you refer to several sources with one phrase – you can present them in the same set of brackets, separated by semicolons. List them in order of publication date:
Multiple sources with the same author and date
If you cite multiple sources by the same author which were published in the same year, it’s important to distinguish between them in your citations. To do this, insert an ‘a’ after the year in the first one you reference, a ‘b’ in the second, and so on:
Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.
A bibliography or reference list appears at the end of your text. It lists all your sources in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, giving complete information so that the reader can look them up if necessary.
The reference entry starts with the author’s last name followed by initial(s). Only the first word of the title is capitalised (as well as any proper nouns).
Sources with multiple authors in the reference list
As with in-text citations, up to three authors should be listed; when there are four or more, list only the first author followed by ‘ et al. ’:
Reference list entries vary according to source type, since different information is relevant for different sources. Formats and examples for the most commonly used source types are given below.
- Entire book
- Book chapter
- Translated book
- Edition of a book
- Print journal
- Online-only journal with DOI
- Online-only journal with no DOI
- General web page
- Online article or blog
- Social media post
Sometimes you won’t have all the information you need for a reference. This section covers what to do when a source lacks a publication date or named author.
No publication date
When a source doesn’t have a clear publication date – for example, a constantly updated reference source like Wikipedia or an obscure historical document which can’t be accurately dated – you can replace it with the words ‘no date’:
Note that when you do this with an online source, you should still include an access date, as in the example.
When a source lacks a clearly identified author, there’s often an appropriate corporate source – the organisation responsible for the source – whom you can credit as author instead, as in the Google and Wikipedia examples above.
When that’s not the case, you can just replace it with the title of the source in both the in-text citation and the reference list:
Harvard referencing uses an author–date system. Sources are cited by the author’s last name and the publication year in brackets. Each Harvard in-text citation corresponds to an entry in the alphabetised reference list at the end of the paper.
Vancouver referencing uses a numerical system. Sources are cited by a number in parentheses or superscript. Each number corresponds to a full reference at the end of the paper.
A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.
The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.
In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘ et al. ’
Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference in meaning:
- A reference list only includes sources cited in the text – every entry corresponds to an in-text citation .
- A bibliography also includes other sources which were consulted during the research but not cited.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.
Caulfield, J. (2023, September 15). A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 6 November 2023, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/referencing/harvard-style/
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Harvard: Reference List and Bibliography
A version of the Harvard (author-date) System of referencing has been adopted as the standard for the presentation of academic text at the University of Birmingham. The examples on this page refer to this version, as found on the Cite Them Right Online website. For detailed guides on how to reference and cite different sources see the right-hand side panel.
How to list your references
In the Harvard (author-date) System the list of references is arranged alphabetically by author's surname, year (and letter, if necessary) and is placed at the end of the work.
A reference list is the detailed list of references that are cited in your work. A bibliography is a detailed list of references cited in your work, plus the background readings or other material that you may have read, but not actually cited. Different courses may require just a reference list, just a bibliography, or even both. It is better to check with your tutor first.
Example of a reference list
Banerjee, A. and Watson, T.F. (2011) Pickard’s manual of operative dentistry. 9th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davidson, A. (2013) ‘The Saudi Marathon Man’, The New Yorker, 16 April. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-saudi-marathon-man (Accessed: 22 June 2015).
Guy, J. (2001) The view across the river: Harriette Colenso and the Zulu struggle against imperialism. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia.
Hislop, V. (2014) The sunrise. Available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/kindlestore (Downloaded: 17 June 2015).
Homer (1997) The Iliad. Translated by J. Davies. Introduction and notes by D. Wright. London: Dover Publications.
Knapik, J. J., Cosio-Lima, L. M., and Reynolds, K. L. (2015) ‘Efficacy of functional movement screening for predicting injuries in coast guard cadets’, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 29 (5), pp. 1157-1162. EDUC 1028: E-learning. Available at: http://intranet.bir.ac.uk (Accessed: 25 June 2015).
Lucas, G. (2004) The wonders of the Universe. 2nd edn. Edited by Frederick Jones, James Smith and Tony Bradley. London: Smiths.
Medicine in old age (1985) 2nd edn. London: British Medical Association.
‘Rush (band)’ (2015) Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Rush_(band) (Accessed: 18 June 2015).
Example of a bibliography
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (1994) Epi Info (Version 6) [Computer program]. Available at http://www.cdcp.com/download.html (Accessed: 23 June 2015).
Gregory, S. (1970) English military intervention in the Dutch revolt. B.A. Thesis. University of Birmingham. Available at: http://findit.bham.ac.uk/ (Accessed: 18 June 2015).
Jones, B., (1997) Methods in tumour research. National Agency for Tumour Research, volume. 7.
Peart, N. (1976) Something for Nothing. Toronto: Toronto Sound Studios.
Rush (2015) [Bishopthorpe Social Club. 29 March].
The University of Birmingham (2010) The University of Birmingham experience. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLxV5L6IaFA (Accessed: 18 June 2015).
- The date of publication always follows the author(s) name(s).
- All authors’/editors’ names are given in the reference list (not matter how many there are).
- If submitting a manuscript for publication, formatting conventions may be stipulated by the publisher. Always check with the publisher before submitting your work.
- If in doubt, consult the Cite Them Right Online website.
- Harvard Referencing Quick Guide
- Harvard Referencing Glossary
- Harvard Hints and Tips
- Harvard FAQs
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How do I write a reference list or bibliography?
Check your style Make sure you know what style you need to use to make sure you have the right information
Look for missing information You need your references to be complete, so check that there are no gaps
Use referencing software This will make the whole process easier and quicker
Referencing is a two-part process. In addition to the citations within the text, you also need a list with a full reference for each source you have used. This list should contain all the information needed to find each piece of research. Correct citing and referencing should guide your reader to the sources of your information and evidence .
What's the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?
A reference list is a list of everything that you have cited in your work.
The list will be drawn from everything that you have either paraphrased or quoted in your assignment.
This is a list of everything that you have cited in your work and any other sources that you might have consulted during your research but have chosen not to cite in the assignment.
Whether you are asked to provide a reference list or a bibliography, both should provide accurate and full references. You need to give enough information that people can easily find your reference. It will vary depending on the type of material you need to reference, but you will always need to include the author, date of publication and title.
For books, you’ll need to include information on the publisher. For journals you’ll need to include facts on the journal itself - journal title and volume, issue and page numbers. For other types of reference you’ll need different pieces of information.
The more academic work you read, the more you will get used to recognising different types of reference.
The easiest thing to do is use some reference management software. For undergraduates, we suggest RefWorks . RefWorks is available online and free for you to use. It will manage the references for you but you’ll still need to make sure that the information that you put in is accurate.
The information you need to include in your reference will vary according to the style you’re using – make sure you know which style your department uses.
In the Library we support two styles, Harvard and Vancouver.
Harvard referencing style
Vancouver referencing style
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Quick guide to Harvard referencing (Cite Them Right)
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There are different versions of the Harvard referencing style. This guide is a quick introduction to the commonly-used Cite Them Right version. You will find further guidance available through the OU Library on the Cite Them Right Database .
For help and support with referencing and the full Cite Them Right guide, have a look at the Library’s page on referencing and plagiarism . If you need guidance referencing OU module material you can check out which sections of Cite Them Right are recommended when referencing physical and online module material .
This guide does not apply to OU Law undergraduate students . If you are studying a module beginning with W1xx, W2xx or W3xx, you should refer to the Quick guide to Cite Them Right referencing for Law modules .
Table of contents
In-text citations and full references.
- Secondary referencing
- Page numbers
- Citing multiple sources published in the same year by the same author
Full reference examples
Referencing consists of two elements:
- in-text citations, which are inserted in the body of your text and are included in the word count. An in-text citation gives the author(s) and publication date of a source you are referring to. If the publication date is not given, the phrase 'no date' is used instead of a date. If using direct quotations or you refer to a specific section in the source you also need the page number/s if available, or paragraph number for web pages.
- full references, which are given in alphabetical order in reference list at the end of your work and are not included in the word count. Full references give full bibliographical information for all the sources you have referred to in the body of your text.
To see a reference list and intext citations check out this example assignment on Cite Them Right .
Difference between reference list and bibliography
a reference list only includes sources you have referred to in the body of your text
a bibliography includes sources you have referred to in the body of your text AND sources that were part of your background reading that you did not use in your assignment
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Examples of in-text citations
You need to include an in-text citation wherever you quote or paraphrase from a source. An in-text citation consists of the last name of the author(s), the year of publication, and a page number if relevant. There are a number of ways of incorporating in-text citations into your work - some examples are provided below. Alternatively you can see examples of setting out in-text citations in Cite Them Right .
Note: When referencing a chapter of an edited book, your in-text citation should give the author(s) of the chapter.
Online module materials
(Includes written online module activities, audio-visual material such as online tutorials, recordings or videos).
When referencing material from module websites, the date of publication is the year you started studying the module.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication/presentation) 'Title of item'. Module code: Module title . Available at: URL of VLE (Accessed: date).
OR, if there is no named author:
The Open University (Year of publication/presentation) 'Title of item'. Module code: Module title . Available at: URL of VLE (Accessed: date).
Rietdorf, K. and Bootman, M. (2022) 'Topic 3: Rare diseases'. S290: Investigating human health and disease . Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1967195 (Accessed: 24 January 2023).
The Open University (2022) ‘3.1 The purposes of childhood and youth research’. EK313: Issues in research with children and young people . Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1949633§ion=1.3 (Accessed: 24 January 2023).
You can also use this template to reference videos and audio that are hosted on your module website:
The Open University (2022) ‘Video 2.7 An example of a Frith-Happé animation’. SK298: Brain, mind and mental health . Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=2013014§ion=4.9.6 (Accessed: 22 November 2022).
The Open University (2022) ‘Audio 2 Interview with Richard Sorabji (Part 2)’. A113: Revolutions . Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1960941§ion=5.6 (Accessed: 22 November 2022).
Note: if a complete journal article has been uploaded to a module website, or if you have seen an article referred to on the website and then accessed the original version, reference the original journal article, and do not mention the module materials. If only an extract from an article is included in your module materials that you want to reference, you should use secondary referencing, with the module materials as the 'cited in' source, as described above.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) 'Title of message', Title of discussion board , in Module code: Module title . Available at: URL of VLE (Accessed: date).
Fitzpatrick, M. (2022) ‘A215 - presentation of TMAs', Tutor group discussion & Workbook activities , in A215: Creative writing . Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/forumng/discuss.php?d=4209566 (Accessed: 24 January 2022).
Note: When an ebook looks like a printed book, with publication details and pagination, reference as a printed book.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) Title . Edition if later than first. Place of publication: publisher. Series and volume number if relevant.
For ebooks that do not contain print publication details
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) Title of book . Available at: DOI or URL (Accessed: date).
Example with one author:
Bell, J. (2014) Doing your research project . Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Adams, D. (1979) The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy . Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/kindle-ebooks (Accessed: 23 June 2021).
Example with two or three authors:
Goddard, J. and Barrett, S. (2015) The health needs of young people leaving care . Norwich: University of East Anglia, School of Social Work and Psychosocial Studies.
Example with four or more authors:
Young, H.D. et al. (2015) Sears and Zemansky's university physics . San Francisco, CA: Addison-Wesley.
Note: You can choose one or other method to reference four or more authors (unless your School requires you to name all authors in your reference list) and your approach should be consistent.
Note: Books that have an editor, or editors, where each chapter is written by a different author or authors.
Surname of chapter author, Initial. (Year of publication) 'Title of chapter or section', in Initial. Surname of book editor (ed.) Title of book . Place of publication: publisher, Page reference.
Franklin, A.W. (2012) 'Management of the problem', in S.M. Smith (ed.) The maltreatment of children . Lancaster: MTP, pp. 83–95.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) 'Title of article', Title of Journal , volume number (issue number), page reference.
If accessed online:
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) 'Title of article', Title of Journal , volume number (issue number), page reference. Available at: DOI or URL (if required) (Accessed: date).
Shirazi, T. (2010) 'Successful teaching placements in secondary schools: achieving QTS practical handbooks', European Journal of Teacher Education , 33(3), pp. 323–326.
Shirazi, T. (2010) 'Successful teaching placements in secondary schools: achieving QTS practical handbooks', European Journal of Teacher Education , 33(3), pp. 323–326. Available at: https://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/log... (Accessed: 27 January 2023).
Barke, M. and Mowl, G. (2016) 'Málaga – a failed resort of the early twentieth century?', Journal of Tourism History , 2(3), pp. 187–212. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1755182X.2010.523145
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) 'Title of article', Title of Newspaper , Day and month, Page reference.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) 'Title of article', Title of Newspaper , Day and month, Page reference if available. Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
Mansell, W. and Bloom, A. (2012) ‘£10,000 carrot to tempt physics experts’, The Guardian , 20 June, p. 5.
Roberts, D. and Ackerman, S. (2013) 'US draft resolution allows Obama 90 days for military action against Syria', The Guardian , 4 September. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/04/syria-strikes-draft-resolut... (Accessed: 9 September 2015).
Surname, Initial. (Year that the site was published/last updated) Title of web page . Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
Organisation (Year that the page was last updated) Title of web page . Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
Robinson, J. (2007) Social variation across the UK . Available at: https://www.bl.uk/british-accents-and-dialects/articles/social-variation... (Accessed: 21 November 2021).
The British Psychological Society (2018) Code of Ethics and Conduct . Available at: https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-code-ethics-and-conduct (Accessed: 22 March 2019).
Note: Cite Them Right Online offers guidance for referencing webpages that do not include authors' names and dates. However, be extra vigilant about the suitability of such webpages.
Surname, Initial. (Year) Title of photograph . Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
Kitton, J. (2013) Golden sunset . Available at: https://www.jameskittophotography.co.uk/photo_8692150.html (Accessed: 21 November 2021).
stanitsa_dance (2021) Cossack dance ensemble . Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/COI_slphWJ_/ (Accessed: 13 June 2023).
Note: If no title can be found then replace it with a short description.
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© . . .
An annotated bibliography is a list of academic sources (books, journal articles, etc.) with short comments underneath each source that summarise their content and evaluate their usefulness for a research purpose.
Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources.
Be selective. Each annotation is usually relatively short (100-200 words) so you do not need to summarise everything in the source. Focus on the usefulness to your research and your purpose. See this guide for prompt questions to help structure your annotations concisely:
Writing an annotated bibliography (University of Wolverhampton)
As well as summarising the main argument of each source, analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the source. See this example annotation that highlights the parts that evaluate the source and reflect on its usefulness:
Example entry with evaluation (UNSW, Australia)
See the following annotated bibliographies as examples of what they look like as a whole:
Sample annotated bibliography (University of Leeds)
Writing an annotated bibliography (SIUC Writing Center)
Not a literature review
Do not confuse an annotated bibliography with a literature review. You might be asked to write an annotated bibliography as preparation for a literature review. However, a literature review compares and links sources so does not take the form of a list. See our literature review resources to understand the difference:
Literature review resources (Centre for Academic Development)
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A Guide to Referencing your Work
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Creating a bibliography in an essay involves listing all the sources you have used or consulted while researching and writing your essay. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a bibliography for an essay.
What is a Bibliography in an Essay?
An essay bibliography is a list of all the sources you examined or utilized for research before writing the essay. Giving acknowledgement to the original writers, acknowledging the sources that contributed to your study, and enabling readers to investigate further the topics you’ve covered are the goals of a bibliography.
What is Included in a Bibliography?
An essay bibliography is a list of all the sources you have utilized or consulted when conducting research for an essay. The information in each bibliography entry enables readers to find and confirm your cited sources.
Entry ought to contain the following components:
- Author Initials
- Title of the Work
- Date of Publication
- Journal/Magazine Title and Volume
- URL (when citing online sources).
Keep in mind that, depending on the citation style you are using, the placement and formatting of these components may change.
Essay Bibliography Writing Tips
Compiling a precise and well-organized bibliography for your essay is essential to credit sources properly, show that you did your research, and maintain academic integrity. Here are some guidelines to follow while creating a solid essay bibliography:
- Include a variety of reputable sources like books, scholarly articles, websites, and other relevant materials. Each category arranges entries alphabetically by the author’s last name.
- Familiarize yourself with the specific citation style required by your instructor or institution (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.). Creating a clear and accurate essay bibliography demonstrates your commitment to producing high-quality academic work.
Where Do You Put a Bibliography in an Essay?
In an essay, the bibliography is typically placed at the end of the document, after the essay’s main body and any appendices. The bibliography is a separate section that lists all the sources you have cited or consulted in your research. Its purpose is to credit the original authors, allow readers to verify your sources, and provide a pathway for further topic exploration.
Where to Find the Bibliography in Essay Example
If you are still confused and can’t figure out how to write a bibliography, an essay writing service UK is always there for you. Whether you need to pay for essay papers or polished research papers, require any other academic writing assistance, or want to find a bibliography in essay example database, our team of experienced writers is dedicated to delivering top-quality work tailored to your needs. Say goodbye to stress and time constraints; let us handle your writing challenges while you focus on what truly matters.
What details should be included in an essay bibliography?
Author’s name, title of work, publication date, publisher, journal/magazine title, page numbers, and URL.
How should entries be arranged?
Alphabetically by the author’s last name within each category.
How do I cite websites?
Include the author, web page title, website name, publication date, and URL.
Essay and dissertation writing skills
Planning your essay
Writing your introduction
Structuring your essay
- Writing essays in science subjects
- Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
- Writing extended essays and dissertations
- Planning your dissertation writing time
Structuring your dissertation
- Top tips for writing longer pieces of work
Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations
University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions.
You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:
Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.
However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:
Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’
Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:
The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.
- Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
- References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline.
Essay writing in science subjects
If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:
A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.
Short videos to support your essay writing skills
There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:
- Approaching different types of essay questions
- Structuring your essay
- Writing an introduction
- Making use of evidence in your essay writing
- Writing your conclusion
Extended essays and dissertations
Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.
Planning your time effectively
Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.
Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.
The structure of extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:
- The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
- Explanation of the focus of your work.
- Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
- List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.
The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.
The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources.
Tips on writing longer pieces of work
Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.
For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work .
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Department of History
Essay writing and referencing, in this section:, essay writing checklist, referencing, presentation.
Here are some of the things you need to think about in preparing an essay. Few of them are iron rules. Good essays come in many forms, and a good essay writer will sometimes ignore some of these guidelines. But to become a good essay writer you would probably do well to start by following them.
Please remember that writing an essay involves skills of discussion and argument which differ from those that might be used in the informal setting of a seminar. In the first place, argument and analysis in essays will usually have to be more carefully structured than the comments you might make in a seminar or tutorial discussion. In essays, you should demonstrate awareness of more than one argument, acknowledge differences in the views of historians, and adopt a critical appreciation of evidence and its sources. You should also provide the necessary scholarly underpinning for your analysis by showing the sources of your information and arguments in bibliographies and footnotes.
On questions of presentation, footnoting, etc. you should follow the advice given from the department.
The Essay Question
- Have you really answered the question?
- Have you thought what might lie behind the question, e.g. if it asks 'Was the First World War the main cause of the Russian Revolution?', have you thought about what alternative explanations might be suggested?
- Is each paragraph clearly related to the overall question, raising a new topic and moving the argument forward?
- The ultimate test is that if you left the title off the top of your essay, could a friend guess the question from your answer?
- Have you made an argument or is the essay simply relating what happened?
- Is your argument logical, coherent and clear?
- Are you contradicting yourself?
- Are you using appropriate evidence to back up each part of your argument?
- Are you aware of counter-arguments?
- Have you combined evidence and ideas from several different sources at each stage of the argument, or are you merely summarising what your sources say one by one?
- Have you done enough reading? Six books/article/chapters is suggested for a short essay; ten or more for a long one.
- Are you up to date on the historical debate? Do not rely only on the older texts.
- Have you listed in the bibliography all the sources you used, and only those sources?
From reading academic articles and books, you should be familiar with the scholarly practice of making references in the text to other people's work and providing listings of relevant source material at the end of the text.
Why is this done?
- To enable someone reading the document to find the material you have referred to or consulted
- To demonstrate your width of reading and knowledge about a subject
- To support and/or develop points made in the text
- To avoid accusations of plagiarism: using somebody else's work without acknowledging the fact
A citation style is a system for formatting references, whether in the main text of an essay, in the footnotes, or in the bibliography. It covers such things as the order of information in the citation style, the length of the citation, and the use of capitalisation and italics.
A common style used in the humanities is known as the MHRA style, so-called because it is administered by the Modern Humanities Research Association, a scholarly association based in the UK. Below are some examples of citations formatted in the MHRA style.
Tom McArthur, Worlds of Reference: Lexicography, Learning and Language from the Clay Tablet to the Computer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 59.
A chapter in an edited book:
Martin Elsky, ‘Words, Things, and Names: Jonson’s Poetry and Philosophical Grammar’, in Classic and Cavalier: Essays on Jonson and the Sons of Ben , ed. by Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982), pp. 31–55 (p. 41).
A journal article:
Robert F. Cook, ‘Baudouin de Sebourc: un poème édifiant?’, Olifant , 14 (1989), 115–35 (pp. 118–19).
These examples are taken from the MHRA Style Guide, the third (2013) edition of which is available here . For a short summary of the guide, see pages 3 to 8. For more detail on referencing, see pages 58 to 82.
Another citation style often used by historians is the one in the Chicago Manual of Style , published by the University of Chicago Press and currently in its seventeenth edition. This style is subtly different from the MHRA style, as you can see by comparing these citations with the ones above:
Tom McArthur, Worlds of Reference: Lexicography, Learning and Language from the Clay Tablet to the Computer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 59.
Martin Elsky, “Words, Things, and Names: Jonson’s Poetry and Philosophical Grammar,” in Classic and Cavalier: Essays on Jonson and the Sons of Ben , ed. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982), 41.
Robert F. Cook, “Baudouin de Sebourc: un poème édifiant?”, Olifan t 14 (1989): 118–19.
Which citation style should you use? The History Department does not favour one particular style, but it does require that students:
- Use the same style throughout any given essay
- Use a recognised style for citations rather than inventing your own style – the MHRA and Chicago style guides are examples.
- Use footnotes for citations rather than in-text citations, such as the in-text citation style administered by the American Psychological Association (the APA style is widely used in the social sciences but rarely in the humanities)
- Include a bibliography at the end of each essay, ie. a list of the works you have cited in the course of the essay
The Department has no rules about how assessments should be presented and formatted. What is important is to ensure that your writing is clearly readable on a screen, which makes it easier for markers to focus on the merits of your argument and writing rather than be distracted by poor presentation. Please check with your tutor in case there are specific requirements for a particular module. If you aren’t sure where to begin, the following are suggested guidelines for how you might format and present your assessments:
- Your font should usually be font size 12 in a standard font (e.g., Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman).
- There should be standard margins (e.g., the default for Microsoft Word is 2.54cm) on all sides of the page.
- The line spacing for the text of your essay should be double-spaced.
- The line spacing for the footnotes should, however, be single-spaced.
- Work should be left aligned or justified, rather than centred or right aligned.
- Number each page of your essay.
- Title pages and/or coversheets are not required, but you should include the title or question at the beginning of the assessment.
- Numbers up to one hundred, when occurring in normal writing, should be written out in words rather than numerals.
- When there are many figures, it is better to use words only for numbers up to nine.
- Spell out 'per cent' rather than using the % sign in your text.
- Instead of (for example) '22nd of June 1941', the correct format for dates would be '22 June 1941'.
- Write an equation or formula Article
- Indent the first line of a paragraph Article
- Double-space the lines in a document Article
- Create a bibliography, citations, and references Article
- Insert footnotes and endnotes Article
Create a bibliography, citations, and references
Put your cursor at the end of the text you want to cite.
Go to References > Style , and choose a citation style.
Select Insert Citation .
Choose Add New Source and fill out the information about your source.
Once you've added a source to your list, you can cite it again:
Go to References > Insert Citation , and choose the source you are citing.
To add details, like page numbers if you're citing a book, select Citation Options , and then Edit Citation .
Create a bibliography
With cited sources in your document, you're ready to create a bibliography.
Put your cursor where you want the bibliography.
Go to References > Bibliography , and choose a format.
Tip: If you cite a new source, add it to the bibliography by clicking anywhere in the bibliography and selecting Update Citations and Bibliography .
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Bibliography in an Essay: What You Need to Know
Table Of Contents
What is a bibliography in an essay, how to write a bibliography for an essay, what should you write in a bibliography for an essay, what citation styles can you use in an essay bibliography, what are the different types of bibliographies, why should you take our bibliography service online.
Do you want to know what is a bibliography in an essay ? Also, if you want to understand how to cite sources well using proper citation styles, this blog will help you learn about them in detail. While writing an essay, most students forget to cite sources correctly, which increases the chance of plagiarism in their content. To avoid such situations, experts say it is necessary to cite sources using correct citation styles such as MLA, APA, etc. This will keep your content authentic and plagiarism-free. Moreover, mention all of them after citing sources on your essay bibliography page. But if you don't know what is a bibliography in an essay , then read the upcoming section.
An essay bibliography, or reference list, is created to list down all the sources from which you took the information or cited it while writing an essay. The main purpose of creating a bibliography essay page is to give credit to the original writers for providing you and the readers with information about the topic. Generally, this page is created at the end of the essay. It is necessary to properly cite the sources to keep your content plagiarism-free, and it will increase the essay's credibility. But one must create this page by following the specific formatting guidelines from the UK universities. So, in the next section, you will learn how to write a essay bibliography step by step.
You don't know how to write bibliography essay, so here are some simple steps that you can follow to achieve success. These steps will help you create an essay's bibliography quickly.
- Firstly, collect citation information.
- Now, list all the sources in alphabetical order and the author's last name.
- If the author's name is unavailable, then you can write the source name or title of the page.
- List down all the sources in a consistent manner.
- Write down the sources line by line; don't merge the two.
- Finally, place the essay bibliography page at the end.
This is a clear and quick ways to create a bibliography in an essay in one go. However, you can use our essay writing services if you cannot do so. Furthermore, if you want to level up your learning and know what you must include in your bibliography, then read ahead.
When you create a bibliography in an essay , always remember to list all the cited sources in detail. In addition, it should include the following:
- Name of the author or authors
- Title of the source
- Publisher's name
- Date of Publication
- Page Number of the Source
Remember these points while writing a bibliography in an essay to avoid mistakes. Now, let's move to the next section to know about citation styles you can use in your bibliography.
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There are numerous referencing styles that you can use to write a bibliography. But before doing so, it is vital to check the exact format of citing sources. No matter your citation style, it must be in the correct format. This shows you are serious and paying attention while working on your essays. A slight mistake can have a huge impact on your work. So, here is the list of citation styles you can use with the set format.
1. APA Citation Style
- Author's Name
- Date of publication
- Page number
2. MLA Citation Style
- Author's last name
- Author's first name
- Title of the book
- City of publication
- Publication date
3. Harvard Citation Style
- Author(s) surname
- Author(s) initial
- Title of the article
- Title of the journal
- Publication information (volume number, issue number)
- Publishing day and month
4. Chicago Citation Style
- Author(s) first name, last name
- Place of publication and publication year
- Page numbers
5. Oxford Citation Style
- Author name
- Journal title
- Conference name
- Place of publication
- Page number(s), if any
You can use these citation styles to write a bibliography in an essay . But, if you are facing an issue you can take reference from bibliography essay examples . So, maybe now you know how many citation styles you can use while creating a bibliography page and the difference between them. Let's proceed further and learn about the different types of bibliographies.
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There are three types of bibliographies that you can use in an essay, which are listed below:
1. Enumerative Bibliography
In an enumerative bibliography, the sources are listed in a specific order. This type of bibliography is often used by students while writing essays.
Our experts say to write a well-organised enumerative bibliography, first mention the author, subject, date, or another criterion. Moreover, the other thing you must remember is language or time.
2. Analytical Bibliography
An adequate analytical bibliography consists of information about printers and booksellers, paper and binding descriptions, or a discussion of the problems that occur when the book turns from a manuscript to a published book.
3. Annotated Bibliography
To write an annotated bibliography in a proper manner, you must arrange the sources in alphabetical order. Moreover, you must remember to add annotations about the source while writing it. This is done to provide information related to the content of each reference, so one can evaluate the source's usefulness later.
These are the different types of essay bibliography. If you want to know about writing it, you can search for essay bibliography example online or take help from our experts. They know how to write all types of bibliographies effectively, so they can assist you quickly. Therefore, to know why you should buy essay online from us, the following are in the next section.
Also Read: Student's Handbook on How to Write a Bibliography
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How to Write a Bibliography (MLA, APA Examples)
Learn how to easily write a bibliography by following the format outlined in this article.
This resource will help your students properly cite different resources in the bibliography of a research paper, and how to format those citations, for books, encyclopedias, films, websites, and people.
What is a bibliography?
According to Infoplease.com, A bibliography is a list of the types of sources you used to get information for your report. It is included at the end of your report, on the last page (or last few pages).
What are the types of bibliography styles (MLA, APA, etc.)?
The 3 most common bibliography/citation styles are:
- MLA Style: The Modern Language Association works cited page style
- APA Style: The American Psychological Association style
- Chicago Style: The bibliography style defined by the Chicago Manual of Style
We’ll give examples of how to create bibliography entries in various styles further down in this article.
What sources do you put in a bibliography?
An annotated bibliography should include a reference list of any sources you use in writing a research paper. Any printed sources from which you use a text citation, including books, websites, newspaper articles, journal articles, academic writing, online sources (such as PDFs), and magazines should be included in a reference list. In some cases, you may need or want to cite conversations or interviews, works of art, visual works such as movies, television shows, or documentaries - these (and many others) can also be included in a reference list.
How to get started writing your bibliography
You will find it easier to prepare your MLA, APA, or Chicago annotated bibliography if you keep track of each book, encyclopedia, journal article, webpage or online source you use as you are reading and taking notes. Start a preliminary, or draft, bibliography by listing on a separate sheet of paper all your sources. Note down the full title, author’s last name, place of publication, web address, publisher, and date of publication for each source.
Haven't started your paper yet and need an outline? These sample essay outlines include a research paper outline from an actual student paper.
How to write a bibliography step-by-step (with examples)
General Format: Author (last name first). Title of the book. Publisher, Date of publication.
MLA Style: Sibley, David Allen. What It’s Like to Be a Bird. From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing, What Birds Are Doing, and Why. Alfred A. Knopf, 2020.
APA Style: Sibley, D.A. (2020). What It’s Like to Be a Bird. From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing, What Birds Are Doing, and Why . Alfred A. Knopf.
Notes: Use periods, not commas, to separate the data in the entry. Use a hanging indent if the entry is longer than one line. For APA style, do not use the full author’s first name.
Websites or webpages:
MLA Style: The SB Nation Family of Sites. Pension Plan Puppets: A Toronto Maple Leafs Blog, 2022, www.pensionplanpuppets.com. Accessed 15 Feb. 2022.
APA Style: American Heart Association. (2022, April 11). How to keep your dog’s heart healthy. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/04/11/how-to-keep-your-dogs-heart-healthy
Online news article from a newspaper site:
APA Style: Duehren, A. (2022, April 9). Janet Yellen faces challenge to keep pressure on Russia. Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/janet-yellen-faces-challenge-to-keep-pressure-on-russia-while-addressing-global-consequences-11650366000
Print journal articles:
MLA Style: Booch, Grady. "Patterns in Object-Oriented Design." IEEE Software Engineering, vol. 6, no. 6, 2006, pp. 31-50.
APA Style: Booch, G. (2006). Patterns in object-oriented design. IEEE Software Engineering, 6(6), 31–50.
Note: It is suggested that you include a DOI and a webpage address when referencing either a printed journal article, and electronic journal article, or an journal article that appears in both formats.
MLA Style: Gamma, Eric, and Peter A. Coad. “Exceptions to the Unified Modeling Language in Python Patterns.” IEEE Software Engineering, vol. 2, no. 6, 8 Mar. 2006, pp. 190-194. O’Reilly Software Engineering Library, https://doi.org/10.1006/se.20061. Accessed 26 May 2009.
APA Style: Masters, H., Barron, J., & Chanda, L. (2017). Motivational interviewing techniques for adolescent populations in substance abuse counseling. NAADAC Notes, 7(8), 7–13. https://www.naadac.com/notes/adolescent-techniques
ML:A Style: @Grady_Booch. “That’s a bold leap over plain old battery power cars.” Twitter, 13 Mar. 2013, 12:06 p.m., https://twitter.com/Grady_Booch/status/1516379006727188483.
APA Style: Westborough Library [@WestboroughLib]. (2022, April 12). Calling all 3rd through 5th grade kids! Join us for the Epic Writing Showdown! Winner receives a prize! Space is limited so register, today. loom.ly/ypaTG9Q [Tweet; thumbnail link to article]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/WestboroughLib/status/1516373550415896588.
Print magazine articles:
General format: Author (last name first), "Article Title." Name of magazine. Volume number, (Date): page numbers.
MLA Style: Stiteler, Sharon. "Tracking Red-Breasted Grosbeak Migration." Minnesota Bird Journal, 7 Sept. 2019, pp. 7-11.
APA Style: Jordan, Jennifer, "Filming at the Top of the World." Museum of Science Magazine. Volume 47, No. 1, (Winter 1998): p. 11.
Print newspaper articles:
General format: Author (last name first), "Article Title." Name of newspaper, city, state of publication. (date): edition if available, section, page number(s).
MLA Style: Adelman, Martin. "Augustus Announces Departure from City Manager Post." New York Times, late ed., 15 February 2020, p. A1
APA Style: Adelman, M. (2020, February 15). Augustus announced departure from city manager post. New York Times, A1.
General Format: Encyclopedia Title, Edition Date. Volume Number, "Article Title," page numbers.
MLA Style: “Gorillas.” The Encyclopedia Brittanica. 15th ed. 2010.
APA Style: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc. (1997.) Gorillas. In The Encyclopedia Brittanica (15th ed., pp. 50-51). Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc.
General format: Full name (last name first). Personal Interview. (Occupation.) Date of interview.
MLA Style: Smithfield, Joseph. Personal interview. 19 May 2014.
APA Style: APA does not require a formal citation for a personal interview. Published interviews from other sources should be cited accordingly.
Films and movies:
General format: Title, Director, Distributor, Year.
MLA Style: Fury. Directed by David Ayer, performances by Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Sony Pictures, 2014.
APA Style: Ayer, D. (Director). (2014). Fury [Film]. Sony Pictures.
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Bibliography for the Essay
Bibliography for the essay (a.k.a. Reference list or Works Cited) is an essential part of the paper. It is not enough just to express a certain idea with the help of your own words. Quite often it is necessary to resort to the use of outside sources. Any type of essay will be more argumentative and catching, if its writer knows how to present the data found in different sources of information. Some people do not know how to cite and just insert the whole sentences written by other authors into their essays. It is necessary to state that such papers are considered plagiarized and will not attract the readers’ attention.
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Citation for the Essay
Types of works cited, book citation: formats, reference to the book report, reference to the review, download free sample of bibliography mla style, bibliography apa sample (cick the image to enlarge), how can we help.
If one is eager to get an excellent essay, he/she should prepare a well-written bibliography page . Sometimes this page is considered to be a useless one, but, actually, it demonstrates your ability to structure your paper and work with sources of information. That is why it is very important to learn how to resort to the use of citation. One should be very attentive and accurate while preparing his/her bibliography for the essay . Firstly, this process takes much time and effort. Secondly, it will be a rude mistake, if a writer omits even the smallest detail.
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Citation for the essay may be applied in different formats. Nevertheless, there are rules and instructions that are similar in any format. First of all, it is important to write down the authors’ names in alphabetical order. There should be a list of all the sources that were used in the paper. Every source has the details that can identify it. All of them are to be included in the essay.
Among works cited for the essay may be books, reviews, magazine and journal articles, Internet web sites. All of them are equally important and should be cited in a proper way. A writer should remember that every source must be separated so that it is not difficult to read and analyze it, if it is necessary. As a rule, two major styles of citation are distinguished – MLA and APA styles.
If one needs to cite a book for the essay , it may be done in two ways. In APA style one should cite in the following way: 1) author’s name, 2) the year of publication, 3) title of book capitalized, 4) location, and 5) publisher. In MLA style it looks like this: 1) last name, 2) first name, 3) title of book, 4) place of publication, 5) publisher, 6) year of publication, 7) medium of publication.
Bibliography for the essay may be organized according to the topic or any other scheme. That is why it is very important to consult your instructor before getting down to work. In any case, your entry for a book will include: author, title, publisher, date of publication. A bibliography of a journal will contain author, title of an article, title of a journal, volume, a number of pages, and the date of its publication.
Reports also should be cited, if they were used in the essay . There are several requirements for citing such sources. Reference to the book report will be a perfect one, if it includes these points: 1) author of report, 2) year of publication, 3) italicized title of the report, report number (if there is any), 4) publisher, and 5) place of publication. Reports may be whether printed or electronic. Both of them should be cited in a proper way.
Reference to the review should be presented this way: 1) the author’s name, 2) the title of the review in quotation, 3) one should write “rev. of” and the title of the book, 4) the title of the periodical must be included, and 5) the number of the page. The title of the journal, where the review was printed, should be italicized. It is important not to omit a single detail while citing.
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