You should compile a bibliography for project work when writing an essay, article, or research paper that relies heavily on source material. A bibliography is an alphabetized list of all the sources used in the paper. This list is found at the end of the work and allows the reader to verify the veracity of the statements and/or figures presented in the essay. It also allows a writer to give proper credit for quotes or key phrases so as to avoid plagiarism.
The following bibliography samples are in Modern Language Association or MLA format. This is the preferred format in the humanities like literature and art. For more on the other styles, check the end of this article.
Despite the varying terms, the difference between a bibliography, an annotated bibliography and a works cited page is simple.
The MLA format generally calls for a works cited list, whereas a bibliography or annotated bibliography may be preferable in Chicago and Turabian styles.
The basic information you should cite when referencing a book includes: the author (surname first, followed by their given name or initials), the book title (in italics), the city of publication, the publisher, and date of publication. Note the punctuation in the bibliography example here:
Smith, John Jacob Jingleheimer. Wu Xia and the Art of Scooter Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003.
Should the source have more than one author, your citation should appear as follows:
Smith, John Jacob Jingleheimer, and Cindy Lu. Wu Xia and the Art of Scooter Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003
If there are more than two authors for your source, note your citation as follows. Et al. is a Latin abbreviation meaning "and others."
Smith, John Jacob Jingleheimer et. al. Wu Xia and the Art of Scooter Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003.
Occasionally, you will come across a source without a listed author. This is especially common when citing newspaper articles and articles from the Internet. When this happens, you should simply move to the next step of your citation.
Wu Xia and the Art of Scooter Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003.
For newspapers and magazines, you should include the author, the article title (in quotation marks), the title of the newspaper or publication (in italics), the date of publication, and the page numbers from which the information was gathered.
Doe, John. "How Do You Measure a Year in the Life?" The Sun Times. 2 July 2010: 1-3.
When you are citing an online source, do your best to include the following: the author, the title of the article or page, the name of the website, the website publisher (if available), the date of publication, and the specific web address or URL.
Johnson, Mary Anne. "How to Bake the Perfect Souffle." Food Network, Television Food Network, 20 February 2013, www.foodnetwork.com/article/perfect_souffle.
If you are citing a personal interview - that is, one you conducted yourself - the citation structure is simple. Include the name of the interviewee, last name first, then "Personal interview," and the date the interview was conducted. The result should look like this:
Subject, Anne. Personal interview. 22 Aug 2019.
If you are citing an interview performed by someone else, your citation should begin with the interviewee's name, last name first, just like the personal interview. What follows depends on the format of the interview. If it appears in a printed publication like a book or magazine, the title of the publication in italics comes next, followed by any volume or issue numbers in plain text, followed by the year, followed by the page numbers in which the interview appears. Like so:
Subject, Anne. Interview with Anne Author. Amazing Interviews Magazine, vol. 4, no. 2, 2019, pgs. 100-105.
If the interview has a title of its own, independent of the work it's published in, be sure to include it in quotations in place of "Interview with Anne Author." Here's an example.
Subject, Anne. "Reflections on Being an Interview Subject." Amazing Interviews Magazine, vol. 4, no. 2, 2019, pgs. 100-105.
If the interview is one part of a television program or other broadcast medium, follow the same pattern above, but omit reference to volume, issue and page number. Instead, include the interviewer's name as "By [name]" after the show's title, along with year of broadcast
Subject, Anne. "Reflections on Being an Interview Subject." TV's Most Amazing Interviews, By Anne Interviewer, 2019.
Many research papers may call on you to cite a film or television program. The rules for citation are fairly straightforward. In the case of a film, the format starts with the film title in italics, followed by "Directed by [name of director or directors]," then the film studio and release year. You can include noteworthy performances just after the directors if you choose. Here's one without performers:
A Citable Film. Directed by Anne Director and Anne Other Director, Moviemaking Studios, 2019.
And here's one with performers:
A Citable Film II. Directed by Anne Director and Anne Other Director, performances by Anne Actor and Anne Extra, Moviemaking Studios, 2019.
Citing a television program follows the same format, but includes the episode title and ideally a specific airing date. The format should be: title of episode in quotation marks; title of show in italics; any season or episode information that would help readers locate the episode; "written by" and "directed by" with names for each, production company, and date of broadcast. Here's how:
"Anne Episode." Anne Show season 1, episode 1, written by Anne Writer and Anne Other Writer, directed by Anne Director, Distribution Distributors, 1 Aug 2019.
If you watched the episode through a streaming service, you should include the service name in italics and a link after the date
"Anne Other Episode." Anne Show season 1, episode 2, written by Anne Writer and Anne Other Writer, directed by Anne Director, Distribution Distributors, 7 Aug 2019. AnneFlix, www.notareallink.com/watch/67584974.
Citing speeches, lectures, conferences, and other spoken material is only slightly different from citing interviews and print material. The entry should follow the pattern of: name of speaker, last name first; title of speech in quotation marks; name of event at which speech was given; date in day-month-year order; location. For example:
Subject, Anne. "The Many Wonders of Speaking at Conferences." Conference on Speaking Conferences, 1 Aug 2019, Turkeyfoot Hotel, Rabbit Hash, KY.
If you want to cite conference proceedings rather than a specific speech or event, your citation should follow the pattern of: proceedings editor, last name first; conference title in italics; conference date and location, publisher, date of publication. Note that the date will often be in the title of the proceedings; if that is the case, there's no need to include it at the end. Here's an example:
Editor, Anne. Conference on Speaking Conferences Proceedings, August 2019. Turkeyfoot Hotel, Rabbit Hash KY: Publication Publishing.
And an example without the date in the title:
Editor, Anne. Conference on Speaking Conferences Proceedings. 1 Aug 2019, Turkeyfoot Hotel, Rabbit Hash, KY: Publication Publishing, 22 Aug 2019.
Note that the italics end with the title. That helps separate a date that is part of the title from a date you have included yourself. Also, note that when citing the published proceedings of a conference, two dates are called for: the date of the conference itself and the date the proceedings were published.
As noted above, this article deals with Modern Language Association or MLA format citation. Many other formats exist. The most popular are the APA style and University of Chicago, or Turabian, style.
APA format, named for the American Psychological Association, is used more often in the social sciences, like psychology and sociology. It is useful for citing from journals and other such publications. The focus of the APA format is more on the research presented in the source and when it was released, rather than the individuals who conducted it. Note that with APA format, the term "bibliography" has been replaced with "references."
University of Chicago or Turabian style are two names for the same format. Following The Chicago Manual of Style, this bibliography style is commonly used in the study of business, history and the fine arts.
Regardless of the format used, every bibliography citation has to have a minimum amount of identifying information. The source matters when it comes to formatting the entry - book titles are italicized, article titles are in quotation marks - and it also determines what information is needed (for example: a book's publisher vs. a web page's URL).
Write down the citation information for each source as you review it, whether or not you think you will actually use it; it will keep your notes more organized and help you find information quickly when you're actually writing. Plus, it is good practice! The more you practice citations, the less of a chore they will be at the end of a hard paper.
For more detail on mastering MLA format, check out our list of examples of formatting in MLA style.