When you’re trying to get your project or research paper organized, it can be helpful to create a preliminary bibliography before jumping in head first. Not only will this help you to organize your research, but it’ll give you a good start on your paper. Preliminary bibliographies can also help you figure out which sources are keepers or duds.
What Is a Preliminary Bibliography?
After you hone down your topic, you can start the research phase. However, before you dive right into writing your paper, a preliminary bibliography can help get you started. So, what is a preliminary bibliography? Basically, it’s an outline of all the sources that you might use to compose your arguments. In other words, you can think of it as a starter bibliography.
Format and Style
There isn’t a standard format that a preliminary bibliography can take on. It comes down to writing style, personal preference and instructor requirements. However, there are a few basic ways that you can choose to lay one out.
The source list preliminary bibliography offers a list of your primary and secondary sources that you are going to use. For example, in MLA style, it might look something like:
Annotated Preliminary Bibliography
Another method you can use is by adding notes, or annotating the important information found in the different sources. Instead of breaking down the primary and secondary sources, the preliminary bibliography will be listed in alphabetical order like a typical bib, but you discuss what value each source will add. The annotation might only be one sentence, or it might be several. In APA, this might look like:
Try a Combo
You might also try to create a combination of the two for your preliminary bibliography. This means you are evaluating your primary and secondary sources and adding annotations about what they will add to your article, as well as the different chapters that might be important. In MLA, this could take the form of:
What’s in a Name?
You might notice that this will be called a preliminary bibliography rather than a preliminary works cited or reference page. This is because you will add all the sources that will go into the inception of your paper, even if you don’t cite them in the body of the piece. A reference page or works cited will only list those sources that are cited in the work, while a Chicago style format bibliography will list all the sources used to create the paper.
Getting Your Start
In addition to having an outline for your paper, it can be helpful to have an outline of the sources that you are going to use in your MLA or Chicago format paper. This preliminary bibliography will break down the sources you’re going to use or might be helpful in an easy to follow way. Plus, it’ll help you create your reference page once you are done.
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