How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper: Guide & Samples

A bibliography is undoubtedly one of the most essential parts of every research paper. A research paper without a bibliography equals poorly conducted research. As such, the importance of a bibliography in a research paper cannot be overemphasized.

To produce well-constructed research, you must consult other authors and use their materials to support your argument. This is the only way to give these authors their credit; by listing them out in your bibliography.

Acknowledging the sources used in writing the topic is an effective approach to avoiding plagiarism in your research. It is also a great way to provide and inform other scholars with sources they may not be aware of. This article seeks to provide the format of bibliography and how to write a good bibliography for your research paper.

What Is a Bibliography in a Research Paper?

Simply put, a bibliography is a list of works used in writing a research paper. Every research paper must contain a list of sources the author used in preparing the research paper. Your source can range from books to scholarly papers, speeches, private records, interviews, letters, websites, and other sources.

Your research paper was not created in a vacuum; you must have consulted other authors or sourced to create enriched content. Therefore, at the end of your research, you must attach a list of all the sources used.

How to Write Bibliography for Research Paper

Writing a bibliography isn’t so hard; all you need is a list of sources used and a format for documenting them. To make things easier for you, prepare a draft comprising all of the sources you must have used. Ensure you include the book’s full title, the author, place of publication, publication date, and publisher. All sources must be listed out alphabetically using the authors’ names.

It is also important to note that there are different formats for writing a bibliography. As such, you must decide which format to employ in your research paper. You can format your work in Modern Language Association (MLA) format, American Psychological Association (APA), or Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Regardless of which you choose, ensure that it is done correctly.

How to Format a Bibliography

Once you have an idea of how to format a bibliography, most of the work is completed. However, when writing it you need to pay close attention to each format and its content to avoid mixing them up. For printed sources, the bibliography of a research paper should provide the following:

  • Author’s name
  • Title of publication (provide the title of the article if it’s a journal, magazine, or encyclopedia)
  • Date of publication
  • Place of Publication of a book
  • The publishing house of a book
  • Volume number of magazine or encyclopedia
  • The page numbers

To document sources from a website, you need to document the following:

  • The author or editor’s name if there’s any
  • Title of the page
  • The organization of the webpage
  • The URL of the website
  • The date the information was gotten from the website

The common formats for writing a bibliography in a research paper are MLA and APA style. A bibliography is known as “Works Cited” in MLA and on the other hand, it is called “References List” in APA. Though both formats contain similar information about the sources used, there are still slight differences in formatting style. Here’s  what MLA and APA bibliography styles should look like.

How to Write a Bibliography APA

Your research paper’s bibliography must be attached at the end of it with the tag “References” at the center. In addition to this, you need to pay attention to the basics of APA style, such as capitalization, abbreviation, punctuation, underlining or italics, hanging indentation, and others. Here’s a research paper bibliography example in APA style:

  • For books:

Author’s last name, first initial. (Publication date). Book title. City of Publication: Publishing company.

  • For encyclopedia:

Author’s last name, first initial. (Date). Title of Article. Title of Encyclopedia (Volumes, pages). City of Publication: Publishing Company.

  • For magazine and newspaper articles:

Author’s last name, first initial. (Publication Date). Article title. Periodical title, Volume number (issue number if there’s any), page numbers.

How to Write a Bibliography MLA

Bibliography in MLA format is called “Works cited” and must be arranged in alphabetical order according to the author’s name. Here’s the required format for MLA style for varying sources:

  • Books:

“Author’s last name, first name. Book title. Publication City: Publishing company, publication date.”

  • Encyclopedia & dictionary:

“Author’s last name, first name. “Title of Article.” Encyclopedia’s Title. Date.”

  • Magazine & newspaper:

“Author’s last name, first name. “Article title.” Periodical title volume Date: inclusive pages.”

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