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A bibliography is a list of books an author has consulted in their creation of a novel, essay, short story, or any other written work that required research.

The word bibliography comes from the Greek “βιβλιογραφία.” It was used for centuries to refer to the act of copying books by hand. The word evolved over time, changing to mean the composition of books and then later, the description of books.

Bibliography pronunciation: bihb-lee-ah-grow-fee

Bibliography definition and examples

Bibliography Definition

A bibliography is a list of books or written works consulted by an author in a piece of writing. It usually appears at the end of that piece of writing. 

The term bibliography is also used to describe the study of books as objects or the description of books in the same terms. A bibliographer is someone who is interested in comparing versions of texts and comparing their physical similarities and differences. This kind of scholar is not interested in assessing their meaning or content. 

Bibliography or Works Cited? 

Bibliographies and work cited documents are two different forms of citation. The latter is sometimes referred to as one’s list of references. With a work cited, every work that you, the writer, made reference to in your own written work is listed. It is likely that as a professional writer or student, you will be required to use a specific format when presenting this list. The commonly used MLA format requires a work cited page.

A bibliography is a list of all the materials the writer consulted when preparing an essay, book, or other written work. Included in this list is everything you considered, whether you actually referenced and cited it in the work or not. This includes resources that you used to do your research.

How to Write a Bibliography? 

As students and professional writers are aware, there are many different rules for creating a bibliography. The most important is that all works the writer referenced or used for research are included. Additionally: 

  • The bibliography should begin on a separate page at the end of the written work.
  • According to MLA guidelines, it should include one inch margins.
  • Everything, except for the header, is left justified. 
  • Everything should be double spaced.
  • After the first line, a hanging indent of 1/2 an inch should be used for all following lines of a citation.
  • Citations should be listed alphabetically by the first word, usually the authors last name.

Other information that should be included in a bibliography is the author’s first and last name, the title of the book, page numbers, digital object identifiers or URLs, and access dates. 

When to Use a Bibliography? 

It’s important to use a bibliography when writing a research paper, a nonfiction novel, or any other written work that requires research or information that came from beyond one’s personal experience. If you are writing a research paper about climate change, it’s going to be critical that you cite where your statistics, examples, and more came from. Commonly, they are likely going to be citations for websites, scholarly articles, physical books, and perhaps even films, documentaries, and YouTube videos.

Why Do Writers Use Bibliographies? 

Writers use bibliographies because it’s important to credit the source of information. If you write an article and do not include citations, readers may doubt the veracity of your information. Students will struggle, especially, as will professional researchers and scholars. It is also important to give credit where it is due to those who have completed the original research when you, the writer, are simply conveying someone else’s information.


What are the four types of bibliography? 

There are several types of bibliographies used in research. Some of these include the national bibliography, personal bibliography, corporate bibliography, subject bibliography. Others include an annotated bibliography, analytical bibliography, and enumerative bibliography.

What is a bibliography example?

Here is an example of a traditional citation one might see in a bibliography: 
Nicholls, R.J. (2002) Rising sea levels: potential impacts and responses.  In, Hester, R.E. and Harrison, R.M. (eds.) Global Environment Change. (Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, 17) Cambridge, UK. Royal Society of Chemistry, pp. 83-107.

What is a bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of works, like books and articles, that a writer referenced or used for research when they were creating another written work. Bibliographies need to appear at the end of books, reports, presentations, and research papers.

Is APA the same as Harvard?

APA is a variant of the Harvard style of citation. Both use similar formats but the Harvard style usually only includes a reference list rather than a bibliography. 


  • Bias: undue favor or support to a particular person, group, race, or one argument over another.
  • Documentary: a genre of non-fictional filmmaking. It is used for the purpose of sharing real-life events as they happened. 
  • Biography: an account or description of a person’s life, literary, fictional, historical, or popular in nature, written by a biographer.
  • Audience: the group for which an artist or writer makes a piece of art or writes.
  • Antithesis: occurs when two contrasting ideas are put together to achieve a desired outcome.
  • Paleography: the study of historic writing systems and handwriting. The process dates documents and traces the evolution of various alphabets.
  • Paraphrasing: means to simplify it down to its most basic elements, clarifying along the way and choosing less complicated language.

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