How To Write A Bibliography For An Essay: General Guidelines

Writing an essay or a research paper can be a daunting task for many students. What makes it even more difficult is the amount of rules to be observed. One of the most frequently misunderstood of them is the requirement to add a bibliography at the end of the essay. Some even confuse it with another similar word – “biography” – and think that they are required to write something about the authors of the books they cited in their essay. Others think of it as of a quotation list. Yet others don’t even try to understand what it is and prefer to go without it at all. Of course, all these little misunderstandings mostly result in bad marks and have a negative impact on student achievement.

What Is a Bibliography?

In short, this is an alphabetized list of all sources used in the paper. If you cited something from a book, the name of the book and its author should be in the bibliography. Besides, if you didn’t cite the information word-by-word, but still used it in your essay, you should enlist it too. In other words, if you wrote that “Based on N.’s research, we can conclude that x=y”, N’s name and the title of his book are to be mentioned in your bibliography as well. So, a bibliography is al list of all sources you have used (whether cited or not) in the process of researching and writing your work.

What Information Should a Bibliography Include?

A typical bibliography is to include the following information:

  • For books: author’s last and first names; year of publication; title; publisher’s city and country; publisher; numbers of pages used in the paper;

  • For periodicals: author’s last and first names; date of publication; title of the article; title of the periodical; page numbers.

  • For web sources: author’s last and first names (if any); the original date of publication (if known); document title; title of publication; retrieved on… (the date what you retrieved the information); the link.

Note that you should put your bibliography in alphabetical order based on the last names of the authors. If the name of the author is unknown, use the name of the work instead. However, in this case, ignore such words as “a, an” or “the” at the beginning. E.g., if the name of the work is “An Introduction to Human Behavior”, it is to be listed under “i”, not under “a”.

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