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How to Organize A Bibliography

Academic Writing is never a picnic.

You spend hours in the library or locked up in your room hunched over the laptop as you type in short bursts of new information you have found helpful to support the points you are making. 5,000 words in and you realize you haven’t looked at your bibliography to start citing and supporting the work you have done already and all you’ve done is name the first and last words of authors.

We get it. You were caught up in the delirium of inspired writing! We will be looking at different formats of bibliographies that help with your writing style. Below are five ways how to organize a bibliography.

Notes System

Select your sources for your academic paper. You won’t have a leg to stand on if you cannot back up your research. A reference can come from anywhere; books and scientific journals to websites, videos, lecture notes, and even social media pages like Facebook. Don’t forget the page number when taking notes as you read through your research papers. 

Choose Your Style for Your Bibliography Page

Consider the style you want to use for your research paper and adopt the same technique with your bibliography to keep the consistency going. There are three style guides you could use when writing your essay’. These are ‘Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association’ (6th Ed), ‘The Chicago Manual of Style’ (16th Ed), and ‘Modern Language Association’ (7th Ed).

Back Up Your Academic Writing and Double Space Your References

It’s essential to include author or speaker names, as well as article titles and corresponding dates when you’re listing sources. Style guides require this information on your bibliography page, it is easier for readers who might need to cite any of these details later down the line! Make sure you double-space between citations to keep it neat.

Style manuals typically call out some critical pieces of data that should appear in all citations: Author name(s), book title with an edition number if applicable and page numbers.

List in Alphabetical Order

Organize full citations alphabetically by author names. if there is more than one author then follow onto listing the titles of the author alphabetically. The reader can easily find more information on these books or websites.

Choosing Your Bibliography Format

Ensure that you give accurate citation information in your title page as well as the use of proper formatting to highlight italics and bold print in your articles! It is essential to list all sources in a bibliography. Ensure the correct format is used for each citation and be consistent throughout. Doing so can help avoid confusion when looking back through old work or checking on information from other authors’ submissions.

Knowing which style to use will help you stay organized whether you use MLA, APA, or the Chicago citation style. Below are quick guides to cite your notes effectively.

MLA Bibliography

The 7th Edition of the Modern Language Association guide contains a Works Cited page as your bibliography. There are differences between the APA and the Chicago Manual. MLA requires you to list your sources of referenced publication such as print, film, or DVD.

The general rule of an MLA format is to begin with the author’s surname, a comma, then their first name, and a period. Then list the book’s name in italics, adding a period, and then the city of publication followed by a comma, the publisher, a comma, the year of publication, and a period. End with the medium of publication and a period. 

For instance an MLA bibliography would look like:

​​Fike, Matthew. “The Timothy Allusion in ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’.” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, vol. 52, no. 4, 2000, pp. 311-9. Literature Online.

APA Bibliography

The American Psychological Association, particularly the 6th Edition, is commonly used in science-based dissertations. We advise that you consult with your committee chair for guidance when adopting this method as part of your bibliography. The APA is different because you only need to source your references that are directly in your paper.

The general rule for the APA method is to begin with the authors’ last name, comma, first initial, and then a period. You then place the year of publication in brackets followed by a period. The title of the literature should be in italics, then followed by a period. Write the publisher’s location, colon, and name before finally ending with a period.

An example of an APA bibliography looks like:

Glantz, A. (2009). The war comes home: Washington’s Battle against America’s veterans. University of California Press.

Chicago Bibliography

The 16th Edition of the Chicago Manual Style includes a bibliography page for your dissertation. You should list the author’s last name, followed by a comma, the first name, and a period. Then, you will include the title of the text in italics with a period afterward. The ending of this citation should be the city of publication, a comma, the publisher’s name, a comma, and finally, the year of publication with a period in the end.

A Chicago bibliography can look like this: Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1962.

Capitalize on Major Words in your Citations

You should capitalize major words as this will ensure that your reference looks crisp especially when it is already double spaced and in italics. Ignore capitalizing words that are not relevant in the title such ‘a’ or ‘the’.

Final First and Last Words

Creating an organized citation list can be overwhelming at times, but it’s vital to source your work as you go along, and to constantly review your work so you don’t accidentally plagiarize! We’ve sourced examples of how you should do references for your bibliography to help keep you organized and as a general guide. However, it depends on the style you choose in the end as there are some differences between the three styles. Keep your entries alphabetized and double spaced for neatness.

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