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What is a Bibliography?

Updated on February 22, 2013
A bibliography worksheet template is all that is needed to make sure the correct information is collected for each bibliography entry.
A bibliography worksheet template is all that is needed to make sure the correct information is collected for each bibliography entry. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

All academic writing require bibliographies, as does some writing for publication. It helps the writer to know when a bibliography is required, and which format the teacher or publisher requires. Not all teachers have a preference as to format, so it may be up to the writer to choose a writing and bibliography style. Once a style is chosen, stick with it consistently throughout the writing project.

Bibliography Defined

The bibliography lists the sources used by the writer, the places where the information for the essay, term paper or article was obtained. The bibliography is included at the end of the paper, article, or book. The basic bibliography lists sources in alphabetical order by author, editor, or title. Some bibliographies break down the entries by source type – books, periodicals, websites, interviews, electronic sources, etcetera.

Building a Bibliography

Writing a bibliography is much easier if you keep a record of every source used. There are two ways of doing this. The first involves a worksheet where you list all the pertinent information for each source written down on paper in a notebook or stored in a file on a computer’s desktop. The second is the index card method. The information for each source is recorded on a 3x5 inch index card (either lined or unlined) as you go along with the research process. If the information is written in bibliography format, the cards can be arranged in alphabetical order. Then the bibliography simply has to be typed in, as is.

Information Included on a Bibliography

The basic information needed for each bibliography entry includes:

  1. Author(s) names, last name first.
  2. Full title of the book, periodical, or website.
  3. Article or chapter title, enclosed in parenthesis or italicized.
  4. The location where the book or encyclopedia was published, the publisher’s name, and the date of publication, and page numbers. Volume numbers are included for anthologies and encyclopedias. Edition numbers are included if this not the first edition of the book.
  5. For periodicals, the name of the periodical, the article title, the volume number, and edition, the date of publication, and the page numbers.
  6. For websites, the name of the website, the article name, the URL, and the last date the website was accessed for the current writing project. Add page numbers if any are listed.

Bibliographies may be listed solely in alphabetical order, or by splitting the entries into source type (books, periodicals, websites, etc.) and then placing each of these sub-lists in alphabetical order.

Basic Format

This is just a basic format. Please refer to the stylebook of choice (MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style), or the instructions from the teacher or publisher, for more specific instructions or for the correct format for any entry type not listed here.


Author’s last name, Author’s first name. “Chapter Title.” Book Title. Publisher’s Location: Publishing Company, Year of Publication. Page numbers.

Verne, Jules. “Chapter III In Which a Conversation Takes Place Which Seems Likely to Cost Phileas Fogg Dear.” Around the World in 80 Days. Norwalk, Connecticut: The Easton Press, 1983. Pages 12 to 20.


Author(s) (Last name first). “Article Title.” Name of Magazine. Volume Number, (Date): page numbers.

Hopkins, Ramona L. “Preservation – The River Oaks Theater: Saved from the Wrecking Ball?” Houston History. Volume9, Number 3, (Summer 2012): Pages 34 to 38.


Author(s) (Last name first). “Article Title.” Newspaper name, city, state of publication. (Date): edition (if available), section, page number(s).

Steffy, Loren. “State’s Appraisal Loophole Lets Companies Punt.” The Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas. (Sunday, February 17, 2013): Section D, Pages D1, D2.

Personal Interview

Interviewee’s name (Last name first). Occupation. Date of Interview.

Tiemman, Robert. Accountant, retired. Interviewed: February 15, 2013.


Author(s) (last name first). Subject or “Title” of the article or blog. Website or blog site name (online). Website URL. Last date accessed.

Whetzel, Joan. “Chicago Manual of Style Basics.” Hub Pages. Last Accessed: February 18, 2013.

For more information about assembling your bibliography, refer the appropriate style manual, refer to the publishers writers’ guidelines, or ask the teacher.


Wikipedia. Bibliography.

Science Buddies. Bibliography Worksheet. Bibliography.

A Resource Guide. for Students. How to Write a Bibliography - Examples in MLA Style.

Purdue Online Writing Lab. Annotated Bibliographies.

Fact Monster. How to Write a Research Paper: Write a Bibliography.

Using Word for Windows to Compile a Bibliography

How to Write a Bibliography


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    • joanwz profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Whetzel 

      5 years ago

      The one about keeping the list as you go I learned through experience. It made it so much easier when trying to compile the list in the end.

    • Rose Anne Karesh profile image

      Rose Anne Karesh 

      5 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you, what a great resource. I had never been sure about how to cite webpages before. I think your advice about keeping the list of sources as you go along in a project is invaluable.


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