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How to Write a Bibliography for an Essay: Common Hints

Your bibliography is the part of your paper where you list the sources that you used. It is where you note the authors and the text that offered evidence for your argument. Organizing your bibliography is directly related to the type of format you are required to use. For example: if you are writing in MLA format your items need to follow the specific guidelines as established by MLA format but your items should be alphabetized. This is true of nearly every list.

In order to make it easier for you to keep your bibliography for your essay organized you need to do the following:

  • Take cohesive notes throughout your research
  • Keep track of page numbers
  • Label all of your evidence properly using the format for your project
  • Alphabetize your list
  • Double check that every period is in the right place and that you spelled names correctly

It seems that while writing your paper, more students are starting the process of research via the internet. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but research online is vastly different from search in a library and these differences must be well understood.

First of all, the internet is a vast resource, but it is also one that students must use critically. The resources that you find your school library have already been vetted by an expert. That means they were critically evaluated before they were published. A “peer review” in a highly academic journal is much different than an article in Time Magazine. In addition, when books and print materials arrive in a library system, the school librarians take a lot of time to systematically catalogue them and cross reference them so that research libraries around the world can utilize the information. This process is the foundation for how content is organized in a library. But searches online are not organized in this fashion.

The internet allows anything to be published by anyone. There are no standards for print material agreed upon ahead of time. There is no screening process. There are no peer reviews required. This is a great aspect for the internet, but it is also its downside for students trying to conduct research online. This is why you must pay close attention to the items you find and make sure that it is highly credited and qualified. Do not use just any reference.

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