Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

Bibliography for a Research Paper


Research papers take a lot of different steps to format your outline and discuss where your sources came from. Every paper ends with a citation page or bibliography. The type of bibliography that you use will depend on your research.

Students preparing research paper

Bibliography Uncovered

Before you can even get into the steps of creating your bibliography, you need to understand specifically what a bibliography is and the best style to use. Simply put, a bibliography is a list of references that are created at the end of your research paper. This resource will discuss either all the sources that were used to create the work or just those that were cited in the work. The type of citation page you create depends on the style that you use. While there are several different styles out there, three styles are most popular.

American Psychological Association

APA lists only the sources that were cited within the body of the research paper. The citation page is labeled ‘References.’ APA will be used for research papers that cover social sciences or technical subjects. APA makes citing sources like journals, manuals and other technical sources easier and uses an author-date in-text citation method. You might also use footnotes to discuss context or copyright information.

Modern Language Association

Humanities, philosophy and English research papers will typically use the MLA style writing guide. The citation page will be found at the end with the title, ‘Works Cited.’ MLA is easy for philosophers and high school students to use because it breaks down how to cite communication sources like web pages, blogs and music. In-text citation for MLA takes the author-page format, but like APA, footnotes can be used to provide more information.

Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian

Looking for citation for your history or religion research paper, this style might become your best friend. Chicago and Turabian are similar in the fact that they both are covered under the Chicago Manual of Style, but Turabian is designed for non-published student works and Chicago polishes published works nicely. In addition to having two formats, this style is unique in the fact that it can have either a ‘Bibliography’ or ‘References’ citation page. If you use notes for in-text citation, go with a bibliography and list all the sources used in the creation of the work. Author-date citations, you’ll use a ‘References’ title.

Creating Your Research Citation Page

Now, that you understand the styles to use, it’s time to create your research paper citation page. This can be a piece of cake if you follow the correct steps.

Step 1: Create a Preliminary Bibliography

While you are doing your research and gathering data for your research paper, it can be helpful to create preliminary bibliography. Not only will this take the work out for you in the end, but it can help you to organize your thoughts as well. When creating your preliminary bib, you’ll want to gather information about:

  • Author, editor
  • Published date
  • Publisher
  • Website
  • Volumes
  • Page numbers (if applicable)

After gathering this information, you’ll want to create a bibliographical citation following your unique style. For example, a book will look like:

MLA: Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York City, Scholastic Press, 2010.


APA: Collins, S. (2010). Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic.


Chicago/Turabian: Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic, 2010.

Step 2: Title Your Work

Your research bibliography or reference page will begin on the very last page of your document. This will be after any endnotes that you used. The title will vary based on your style (Bibliography, References or Works Cited), but it will be centered. It will have the same one inch margins and headers as the rest of your paper.

Step 3: Create Your Entries

If you created a preliminary bibliography, then you just need to alphabetize your entries. The entries will be alphabetized by the author’s last name, corporation or title of the work. All styles will require a ½ inch hanging indent after the first line of the bibliographical citation. For spacing, you’ll need to see your style guideline since the spacing for References and Works Cited is different from a Bibliography page.

That’s a Wrap

Once you’ve added your citations, your research paper is officially done. Your citation page might be as little as a few entries or have dozens of sources. Following the style guides and steps can make sure you are error free and ready to earn that A.

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Jennifer Betts

Jennifer Betts is a diverse educational writer who has been published in multiple online forums. She also works part time as a substitute teacher with seven different school districts. Building on skills gained from a brother and son with learning disabilities, she has been a tutor and mentor for disadvantaged children for more than 20 years. Interested in learning more about Jennifer Betts, just ask.

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