How to Write a Bibliography (MLA, APA Examples)

Learn how to easily write a bibliography by following the format outlined in this article.

This resource will help your students properly cite different resources in the bibliography of a research paper, and how to format those citations, for books, encyclopedias, films, websites, and people.

What is a bibliography?

According to Infoplease.com, A bibliography is a list of the types of sources you used to get information for your report. It is included at the end of your report, on the last page (or last few pages).

What are the types of bibliography styles (MLA, APA, etc.)?

The 3 most common bibliography/citation styles are:

  • MLA Style: The Modern Language Association works cited page style
  • APA Style: The American Psychological Association style
  • Chicago Style: The bibliography style defined by the Chicago Manual of Style

We’ll give examples of how to create bibliography entries in various styles further down in this article. 

What sources do you put in a bibliography?

An annotated bibliography should include a reference list of any sources you use in writing a research paper. Any printed sources from which you use a text citation, including books, websites, newspaper articles, journal articles, academic writing, online sources (such as PDFs), and magazines should be included in a reference list. In some cases, you may need or want to cite conversations or interviews, works of art, visual works such as movies, television shows, or documentaries - these (and many others) can also be included in a reference list.

How to get started writing your bibliography

You will find it easier to prepare your MLA, APA, or Chicago annotated bibliography if you keep track of each book, encyclopedia, journal article, webpage or online source you use as you are reading and taking notes. Start a preliminary, or draft, bibliography by listing on a separate sheet of paper all your sources. Note down the full title, author’s last name, place of publication, web address, publisher, and date of publication for each source.

Haven't started your paper yet and need an outline? These sample essay outlines include a research paper outline from an actual student paper.

How to write a bibliography step-by-step (with examples)

Books:

General Format: Author (last name first). Title of the book. Publisher, Date of publication.

EXAMPLES:

MLA Style: Sibley, David Allen. What It’s Like to Be a Bird. From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing, What Birds Are Doing, and Why. Alfred A. Knopf, 2020.

APA Style: Sibley, D.A. (2020). What It’s Like to Be a Bird. From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing, What Birds Are Doing, and Why. Alfred A. Knopf.

Notes: Use periods, not commas, to separate the data in the entry. Use a hanging indent if the entry is longer than one line. For APA style, do not use the full author’s first name.

Websites or webpages:

 MLA Style: The SB Nation Family of Sites. Pension Plan Puppets: A Toronto Maple Leafs Blog, 2022, www.pensionplanpuppets.com. Accessed 15 Feb. 2022.

APA Style: American Heart Association. (2022, April 11). How to keep your dog’s heart healthy. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/04/11/how-to-keep-your-dogs-heart-healthy

Online news article from a newspaper site:

APA Style: Duehren, A. (2022, April 9). Janet Yellen faces challenge to keep pressure on Russia. Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/janet-yellen-faces-challenge-to-keep-pressure-on-russia-while-addressing-global-consequences-11650366000

Print journal articles:

MLA Style: Booch, Grady. "Patterns in Object-Oriented Design." IEEE Software Engineering, vol. 6, no. 6, 2006, pp. 31-50.

APA Style: Booch, G. (2006). Patterns in object-oriented design. IEEE Software Engineering, 6(6), 31–50.

Note: It is suggested that you include a DOI and a webpage address when referencing either a printed journal article, and electronic journal article, or an journal article that appears in both formats. 

MLA Style: Gamma, Eric, and Peter A. Coad. “Exceptions to the Unified Modeling Language in Python Patterns.” IEEE Software Engineering, vol. 2, no. 6, 8 Mar. 2006, pp. 190-194. O’Reilly Software Engineering Library, https://doi.org/10.1006/se.20061. Accessed 26 May 2009.

APA Style: Masters, H., Barron, J., & Chanda, L. (2017). Motivational interviewing techniques for adolescent populations in substance abuse counseling. NAADAC Notes, 7(8), 7–13. https://www.naadac.com/notes/adolescent-techniques

Tweets:

ML:A Style: @Grady_Booch. “That’s a bold leap over plain old battery power cars.” Twitter, 13 Mar. 2013, 12:06 p.m., https://twitter.com/Grady_Booch/status/1516379006727188483.

APA Style: Westborough Library [@WestboroughLib]. (2022, April 12). Calling all 3rd through 5th grade kids! Join us for the Epic Writing Showdown! Winner receives a prize! Space is limited so register, today. loom.ly/ypaTG9Q [Tweet; thumbnail link to article]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/WestboroughLib/status/1516373550415896588.

Print magazine articles:

General format: Author (last name first), "Article Title." Name of magazine. Volume number, (Date): page numbers.

EXAMPLES:

MLA Style: Stiteler, Sharon. "Tracking Red-Breasted Grosbeak Migration." Minnesota Bird Journal, 7 Sept. 2019, pp. 7-11.

APA Style: Jordan, Jennifer, "Filming at the Top of the World." Museum of Science Magazine. Volume 47, No. 1, (Winter 1998): p. 11.

Print newspaper articles:

General format: Author (last name first), "Article Title." Name of newspaper, city, state of publication. (date): edition if available, section, page number(s).

EXAMPLES:

MLA Style: Adelman, Martin. "Augustus Announces Departure from City Manager Post." New York Times, late ed., 15 February 2020, p. A1

APA Style: Adelman, M. (2020, February 15). Augustus announced departure from city manager post. New York Times, A1.

Encyclopedias:

General Format: Encyclopedia Title, Edition Date. Volume Number, "Article Title," page numbers.

EXAMPLES:

MLA Style: “Gorillas.” The Encyclopedia Brittanica. 15th ed. 2010.

APA Style: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc. (1997.) Gorillas. In The Encyclopedia Brittanica (15th ed., pp. 50-51). Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc.

Personal interviews:

General format: Full name (last name first). Personal Interview. (Occupation.) Date of interview.

EXAMPLES:

MLA Style: Smithfield, Joseph. Personal interview. 19 May 2014.

APA Style: APA does not require a formal citation for a personal interview. Published interviews from other sources should be cited accordingly.

Films and movies:

General format: Title, Director, Distributor, Year.

EXAMPLES:

MLA Style: Fury. Directed by David Ayer, performances by Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Sony Pictures, 2014.

APA Style: Ayer, D. (Director). (2014). Fury [Film]. Sony Pictures.

 

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