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Any time that you use the direct words of someone else such as in a quotation, you must make sure your reader knows whose words you are using. The same is true for the original ideas of another author. If you use the words or ideas of someone else and fail to give them credit, you may be accused of plagiarism which is a very serious offense. A bibliography is a list of cited works and is the official way to give credit where credit is due. The other purpose that bibliographies serve is to provide your reader with your list of sources in the event they want to do further reading on a topic or argument you have presented. Finally, you need to write a bibliography page because it’s a standard element of any academic essay, and almost all reference styles emphasize their importance. Make sure your bibliography page corresponds to the academic style defined by your professor and name it accordingly.

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Preparation of Bibliographies

Although most people save the writing of bibliographies for last when writing an essay, in reality the preparation for your bibliography is one of the first things that you should do. Make notes of everything you read while researching your essay. Notate the complete title of the book, magazine or article and the page numbers that you read. This will save you time and prevent headaches later if you want to use a quotation or an idea directly from someone else’s work to support your essay argument. Not preparing your source list while doing research can mean hours of time spent going back through your sources to try and find that quote or idea again so that you can properly cite it.

Format of Bibliographies

Free Sample of Bibliographies (Click the image to enlarge)

Bibliography FormatBibliographies always appear at the end of your essay. In most cases the bibliography will be a separate page.

– Use hanging indent format for each entry which means that the first line is not indented but all lines of the entry that follow are indented five spaces.

– Entries should be alphabetically listed.

– Each entry in your bibliography list should include the author’s name, title of the source, publication information and date.

– The titles of books, journals, web-sites should be put in italics, while titles of chapters, articles and poems should be put in quotation marks.

– In the case of more than one author, list them the same as they appeared on the title page of your source book with a comma between them and a period after the last name. In the event of a book with more than one edition, list the edition immediately following the title.

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Types of Bibliographies

There are several different styles of bibliographies in addition to a standard requirements. These types of bibliographies include annotated bibliography, MLA bibliography, APA bibliography, and in some cases Turabian bibliography.

Except the annotated bibliography, which is actually a separate kind of work bibliography styles differ by the order in which you present the information about your sources, punctuation in bibliography entries and the way this page is entitled.

  • Annotated bibliographies include a five sentence summary of the source content, and explanation why it’s relevant to your essay, under each bibliography entry.
  • The Modern Language Association or MLA Style bibliographies are a common format and are the one usually followed at the high school level and for liberal arts college students.

    The MLA style guideline requires that bibliography page should be entitled “Work cited”.

    An MLA style bibliography entry looks the following way:Author, Name. Title. City: Publisher, Year. Media (Print or Web).

    Example: Kern, Stephen. The Culture of Time and Space. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983. Print.

  • The Turabian Style bibliography is a style based on the Chicago Style of writing and is most commonly used by history students.

    Chicago style bibliography page should be entitled “Bibliography”.

    A Chicago style bibliography entry looks the following way: Author, Name. Title. City: Publisher, Year.

    Example:Kern, Stephen. The Culture of Time and Space. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.

  • APA style is most often used at University or Master’s level.

    A bibliography page in APA style is called “Reference list”.

    A bibliography entry at this list will have the following format:  Author, N. (Year).Title. City: Publisher.

    Example: Kern, S. (1983). The Culture of Time and Space. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

To ensure that you properly cite works you use, prepare your bibliography in advance and follow the bibliography format specified by your professor.

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