Learn and Master Bibliographies, Works Cited, and References

How to Do a MLA, APA, or Chicago/Turabian Bibliography


You’ve been staring at that sample bibliography for 20 minutes and still don’t have any idea where to start. Stop staring and start creating. Making a bibliography isn’t as daunting if you break it down into steps. Most importantly, don’t forget about style.

More Than Your Average Bibliography

If you look in Webster’s dictionary, it basically states that a bibliography is a reference list that is created at the end of a paper. However, like most things in writing, it’s not that simple. Writing styles use a bibliography and a reference list. The difference between the two is that a bibliography lists all the sources used in the creation of the paper while a reference list only discusses the sources that were cited in the body of the paper. A reference list is either called a Works Cited or References page. This article will discuss how to create both a bibliography and a reference list. Since that confusion is cleared up, it’s time to get into the good stuff.

How to Create a Bibliography

Your bibliography page will be at the end of your paper. This will be after any endnotes that you use. Take a look at the steps.

Step 1: Gather Your Information

While you were writing your paper, you should have been taking down all the information for the different sources that you used. These will include but are not limited to:

  • Author/editor
  • Published date
  • Title
  • Journal name
  • Publisher information
  • Website link
  • Volume, series, etc.

Step 2: Add a Title

Before you add any of your references to your page, you’ll need to add a title. The title will be centered on the page and follow the same format and typesetting as the rest of your paper. However, the actual title you use will vary based on style.

  • American Psychological Association (APA): References
  • Modern Language Association (MLA): Works Cited
  • Chicago Manual of Style/Turabian: Bibliography or References

Step 3: Add Your Entries

The entries on your bibliography will be listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name. If there isn’t an author, it might be listed by title or company. The entries will have a hanging indent for any citations that go over one line. The hanging indent will be indented a half-inch. The format the citations take is going to depend on the style, but book citations might look like:

  • APA: Glick, J. (2001) Chaos: new sciences. Boston, MA: Redriver.
  • MLA: Glick, Jennifer. Chaos: New Sciences. Redriver, 2001.
  • Turabian: Glick, Jennifer. Chaos: New Sciences. Boston: Redriver, 2001.

Knowing Your Style

You’ve got the basics of creating your bibliography page down. But before you follow the masses and dive in, it’s important to understand your style and why you are using it.

A Look at APA

If you are creating a paper for your physics project or a biological study, APA will make it simple. It breaks down different technical works, like journals and reference books, into easy citation. APA has different rules for how to cite volumes and even parts of large works. Additionally, the in-text citations use the author-date method, which makes finding the work on the references page easy. You’ll notice that typically the author’s last name and publication date are listed first.

Checking Out MLA

Used a lot by high school students, MLA makes communications citations, like advertisements, websites and blogs, easy. Designed for literature, humanities and communications topics, MLA breaks down citations for both technical and communications references. The in-text citations are author last name and page number. This helps you to find the author on the works cited page and know the page the information was found on without bogging down the text.

Look into Chicago/Turabian

Turabian is a student version of the Chicago Manual of Style that makes things a bit easier for college and high school students. But the citations that they use in the text and reference page are the same. Chicago is a comprehensive style that works great for history, philosophy and religion, to name a few. This style also uses two different types of citation for the reference page and in-text citations. You might use the author-date with a reference page or you can use the notes and bibliography.

Creating a Bibliography

When you are working on trying to format all your citations for a bibliography page, you might just want to cry. But thankfully, each different style breaks it down for you in a simple and easy to use manner.

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Learn and Master Bibliographies, Works Cited, and References