How do I write a reference list or bibliography?

Firstly, make sure you know what your lecturer has asked you to include in your coursework:

A reference list:

This is your list of all the sources that have been cited in the text of your work. The list is inclusive showing books, journals, etc., listed in one list, not in separate lists according to source type.

  • Books, paper or electronic journal articles, etc., are written in a particular format that must be followed.
  • Your reference list contains all the items you have cited or directly quoted from.
  • Usually the list should be in alphabetical order by author/editor.

A bibliography:

There may be items which you have consulted for your work, but not cited. These can be listed at the end of your assignment in a ‘bibliography’. Usually these items should be listed in alphabetical order by author and laid out in the same way as items in your reference list. If you can cite from every work you consulted, you will only need a reference list. If you wish to show to your reader (examiner) the unused research you carried out, the bibliography will show your extra effort.

Always check the guidance you are given for coursework, dissertations, etc., to find out if you are expected to submit work with a reference list and a bibliography. If in doubt, ask your lecturer or supervisor.

The method in which you list items may vary depending on the referencing style you use, so remember to check. For example, you list all items in alphabetical order by author/editor using Harvard. When you use Vancouver, you list all items numerically in the order in which you cite them in the text of your work.

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