Knowing the proper term for your paper’s list of citations can be confusing. Do I call it a works cited page? Should it actually be called a bibliography? How is it different from a reference list? In this article, we explain what these three terms mean and how they are different or related to one another.
To begin, each citation style has its own way of naming the list of sources you used in your paper. Here we break down the differences in these list types, so that you can better understand which option works best for your work.
A “Works Cited” list is an alphabetical list of works cited, or sources you specifically called out while composing your paper. All works that you have quoted or paraphrased should be included. Works Cited is generally used when citing sources using MLA format (Modern Language Association) style, and sources should be listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.
Example Works Cited entry:
Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution. Oxford UP, 2007.
References or “Reference List”
A “Reference List” is very similar to a Works Cited list, and is a term used when citing sources using APA format (American Psychological Association) style. The page should be titled “References,” and is arranged alphabetically by author last name.
Example References entry:
Middlekauff, R. (2007). The glorious cause: The American Revolution. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Bibliographies, on the other hand, differ greatly from Works Cited and References lists. In Works Cited and References, you only list items you have actually referred to and cited in your paper. A Bibliography, meanwhile, lists all the material you have consulted in preparing your essay, whether you have actually referred to and cited the work or not. This includes all sources that you have used in order to do any research. Bibliographies are often used in Chicago and Turabian citation styles. They usually contain a long reference that has a corresponding footnote within the body of the paper.
Example Bibliography entry:
Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007.
References vs Bibliography
What are they?
References usually come at the end of a text (essay or research report) and should contain only those works cited within the text. So, use the term 'References' to cover works cited, and 'Additional Bibliography' to refer to works read as general background.
A Bibliography is any list of references at the end of a text, whether cited or not. It includes texts you made use of, not only texts you referred to in your paper, but your own additional background reading, and any other articles you think the reader might need as background reading.
Both Refs. & Bibliog. must be in alphabetical order; and each entry must be laid out in a strictly ordered sequence. Examples:
|Cuba, L. (1988) A Short Guide to Writing in the Social Sciences.|
|Friedman, S. & S. Steinberg (1989) Writing and thinking in the|
|Hamp-Lyons, L. & K. Courter (1984) Research matters. Rowley,|
|Ivanic, R. & J. Simpson (1992) Who's who in academic writing?|
Note: There are many variations of format, even within the same discipline. Browse through the back pages of different journals to get an idea. Our advice is to choose a system you like - or your teachers prefer - and use it consistently.
In Academic Grammar, we use a simplified version of the 'house style' most common to the Social Sciences: the American Psychological Association, or APA, for all of our formats, as illustrated previously.
A typical book entry would be as follows:
Hamp-Lyons, L. & K. Courter (1984) Research matters. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.