A bibliography sometimes also lists sources that you consulted for background research, but did not cite in your text.
The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. If in doubt about which to include, check with your instructor or department.
The information you include in a reference varies depending on the type of source, but it usually includes the author, date, and title of the work, followed by details of where it was published. You can automatically generate accurate references using our free reference generator:
Reference list or bibliography entries always start with the author’s last name and initial, the publication date and the title of the source. The other information required varies depending on the source type. Formats and examples for the most common source types are given below.
Author surname, initial. (Year) Page title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).
Google (2019) Google terms of service. Available at: https://policies.google.com/terms?hl=en-US (Accessed: 29 April 2020).
Reference list entries for pages without a clearly identified author can begin with the name of the relevant site or organisation instead.
For web sources with no DOI, include an access date.
Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Blog name, Date. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).
Rakich, N. (2020) ‘How does Biden stack up to past Democratic nominees?’, FiveThirtyEight, 28 April. Available at: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-does-biden-stack-up-to-past-democratic-nominees/ (Accessed: 29 April 2020).
Here you include the year at the start as usual, but also the exact day of publication later in the reference.
Author surname, initial. [username] (Year) Title or text [Website name] Date. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).
Dorsey, J. [@jack] (2018) We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation … [Twitter] 1 March. Available at: https://twitter.com/jack/status/969234275420655616 (Accessed: 29 April 2020).
Include the author’s username on the site in square brackets, if available.
If the post has a title, use it (in italics).
If the post is untitled, use the text of the post instead. Do not use italics. If the text is long, you can save space by replacing some of it with an ellipsis, as above.
Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Newspaper Name, date, p. page number. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).
Butler, S. (2020) ‘Women’s fashion manufacturer to make reusable gowns for NHS’, The Guardian, 28 April. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/28/womens-fashion-manufacturer-to-make-reusable-gowns-for-nhs (Accessed: 29 April 2020).
Include the page number where the article begins if you read the article in print. If you read it online, include the URL and access date instead.
Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Magazine Name, Volume(Issue) or (Month) or (Season), pp. page range. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).
Newman, J. (2020) ‘For autistic youths entering adulthood, a new world of challenges awaits’, National Geographic, (May), pp. 20–24.
For issue information, follow the format used by the magazine; magazines may be issued per month, per season, or in numbered volumes and issues.
Only include the URL and access date for online-exclusive articles. Omit this information if the article is available in print, even if you read it online.
If you read an article online, you can omit the page range.
Referencing sources with multiple authors
When a source has up to three authors, list all of them in the order their names appear on the source. If there are four or more, give only the first name followed by ‘et al.’:
Number of authors
Davis, V. (2019) …
Davis, V. and Barrett, M. (2019) …
Davis, V., Barrett, M. and McLachlan, F. (2019) …
Davis, V. et al. (2019) …
Referencing sources with missing information
Sometimes a source won’t list all the information you need for your reference. Here’s what to do when you don’t know the publication date or author of a source.
Some online sources, as well as historical documents, may lack a clear publication date. In these cases, you can replace the date in the reference list entry with the words ‘no date’. With online sources, you still include an access date at the end:
When a source doesn’t list an author, you can often list a corporate source as an author instead, as with ‘Scribbr’ in the above example. When that’s not possible, begin the entry with the title instead of the author:
Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.