How to Write a Bibliography

Bibliographies are found in almost all research based journals, documents and papers and are an integral part in any academic publication. It is comprised of a list of references and sources which have been used to obtain information for the publication. Therefore, knowing how to write a bibliography is very important when it comes to producing any research based document.

1. Format – the bibliography of the document should be composed in the same format as the rest of your document. There are several types of formats in which academic documents are composed today. MLA and APA are two of the most popular.

2. Beginning – All bibliographies begin at the end of the document on a new page with a centered title.

3. Alphabetize – The list must be put in alphabetical order as per the first letter of the author’s last name using the letter-by-letter system. However, if the author is unknown, the list must be alphabetized as per the title ignoring words such as the, a, an, etc.


Abercrombie, D. (1968). Paralanguage. British Journal of Disorders of Communication, 3, 55-59.

Chomsky, N. (1973). Linguistic theory. In J. W. Oller& J. C. Richards (Eds.), Focus on the learner (pp. 29-35). Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

4. Underlining and italics – Publication names are to be in italics. However, if the paper is being handwritten or typed on a typewriter, it can be underlined as typewriters do not have italics. However, this may depend upon the preference of the instructor as well.

5. Hanging indentation – These should be used for both MLA and APA styles. This means that the first line of entry should be flush left while the subsequent lines should be indented 1/2.”

6. Capitalization, punctuation, abbreviation – This depends on the format that one uses. MLA specifies using title case capitalization where all principal words including first words, last words as well as those that follow hyphens in compound terms are capitalized. In APA format , sentence-style capitalization should be used for the titles of books or articles. That is to say, only the first word of the title and subtitle should be capitalized.


( APA) Allen, T. (1974). Vanishing wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

(MLA) Allen, Thomas B. Vanishing Wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1974.

7. Spacing – The entries must be double spaced. After a punctuation mark, a single space is included. This is done in order for the entries to appear clearer.


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