Writing a Bibliography Help
Writing a Bibliography
Writing a bibliography is more straightforward than deciding when and where to use footnotes or citations. In fact, the bibliography format is very similar to the format for footnotes, with only slight variations. This lesson will explain why bibliographies are important, how to write one, and will provide you with several examples.
A bibliography should be a complete list of every single item that you have consulted while you were researching and writing your paper. This list includes all printed matter and any other sources from which you derived your information. A standard bibliography documents all printed matter you have read or consulted and includes all reference books, books by a particular author, articles, pamphlets, or leaflets. Even if you only read several pages or paragraphs from a large encyclopedia or textbook, it is important to include that book in your bibliography. The reason that you provide a bibliography for your reader is not only to confirm your own legitimacy as a researcher and writer (in other words, that you gathered material and did not "create" it all in your head), but more importantly, to provide a source for other people interested in your topic. In a way, you can think of a bibliography as a form of sharing knowledge.
A bibliography should function as a mini library of sorts. Any reader should be able to consult your bibliography (even if he or she has not read your paper) and begin to gather important titles on a similar topic based on works that you mention. Because bibliographies become official documents of knowledge in themselves, it is important that they list sources correctly and are written in proper format. There is nothing worse than referring a reader to a book that does not exist or neglecting to mention a particular printing or edition of a book that you have consulted. Listing the book correctly ensures that the reader doesn't have to sort through the previous ten editions hoping to find similar information.
Standard Bibliographic Format
A bibliography should come at the very end of your paper. All books and printed material should be listed by author's last name in alphabetical order. The author's name should be written with the last name first, followed by the first name. A period comes after the author's name. The title is then listed and either underlined or set off in italics (in the case of articles, the title is always set off by quotation marks). The title of the book is followed by a period. The next information is the city where the book is published, followed by a colon. Then the publishing company is listed, followed by a comma, and finally the year of publication, followed by a period. A simple bibliographic citation might look like this:
Miller, Sue. The Last Days of President Kennedy's Presidency: A Critical Examination of his Final Economic Policies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
Unlike a footnote citation, you do not have to number your sources, there are no parentheses, and the author's last name is listed first. Also, the second and succeeding lines of each entry are always indented five spaces. Remember to list your sources alphabetically by the author's last name.
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