Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

Differences Between Bibliography, Works Cited, and References


Is your head spinning over the difference? Don’t let the terminology get to you. In its most basic form, a reference page, works cited and bibliography are all a page (or pages) at the end of your paper where you cite the sources that made your essay awesome. Learn when to use a reference, bibliography or works cited, along with how they’re different.

Students making Bibliography and Works Cited and References

Time for a Bibliography

Knowing when to use a bibliography is all about style. Chicago, Turabian and Oxford use a bibliography page to cite all the references used within the essay, scholarly article or thesis. A bibliography will not only list all the references that were used in the article, but it might also include those that were used as background information as well.

Bibliography citation in Chicago style looks like this:


Lee, H. To Kill A Mockingbird. London, Eng: Cornerstone, 1989.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.


In addition to a regular bibliography, an annotated bibliography is also an option. An annotated bibliography can be found in most styles.

Using a Reference List

Writers that are using the American Psychological Association (APA) style will use a reference list, sometimes called references, rather than a bibliography. The reference page includes all the sources that are cited within the paper. References are listed by the author’s last name in alphabetical order. And all the sources that you use in the paper for parenthetical citations, with the exception of a few like personal interviews, are included.

An example of an APA citation for references looks like:


Lee, H. (1989). To Kill A Mockingbird. London, Eng: Cornerstone.

Smith, Z. (2016). Swing Time. New York, NY: Penguin Press.


Works Cited Coming Your Way

A works cited is the MLA style version of a reference list. The citations are still in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, and all the sources cited in the work are included in the works cited page.

An example of an MLA works cited page looks like this:

Works Cited

Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. Cornerstone, 1989.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. Penguin Press, 2016.


Not That Different

While each style has its own differences, all the styles will include the references listed in alphabetical order. They will all have a title and be double spaced. Every line of the citation, except the first, will have a hanging indent, which is indented a half-inch. The reference will also be at the very end of the writing.

Using More Than One

There might come a time when you would use both a works cited page and a bibliography. While it’s not common, some instructors or publishers might ask for both. For example, you might include an annotated bibliography and a reference list in the same paper.

Finding Your Style

The type of citation page that you’ll use will depend on your style. If you’re writing in MLA, works cited will be your game. Turabian or Chicago can’t go wrong with a bibliography. APA writers will want a reference.

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About the author

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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