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.
Works cited pages would appear at the end of a research paper. Works cited means the same as references but differs from a bibliography. A works cited page is a list of works that you referenced in the body of your paper, whereas a bibliography is a list of all sources you used in your research.
Format for Work Cited Pages
The formats shown below for works cited pages reflect the MLA (Modern Language Association) style. This style is widely used by schools and colleges, especially in the Humanities departments. The formats shown for reference pages are from the APA (American Psychological Association) which is used for papers within the social sciences.
"Blueprint Lays Out Clear Path for Climate Action." Environmental Defense Fund. Environmental Defense Fund, 8 May 2007. Web. 24 May 2009.
Clinton, Bill. Interview by Andrew C. Revkin. “Clinton on Climate Change.” New York Times. New York Times, May 2007. Web. 25 May 2009.
Dean, Cornelia. "Executive on a Mission: Saving the Planet." New York Times. New York Times, 22 May 2007. Web. 25 May 2009.
Ebert, Roger. "An Inconvenient Truth." Rev. of An Inconvenient Truth, dir. Davis Guggenheim. Rogerebert.com. Sun-Times News Group, 2 June 2006. Web. 24 May 2009.
Begley, S. (1998, January 19). Aping language. Newsweek 131, 56-58.
Booth, W. (1990, October 29). Monkeying with language: Is chimp using
words or merely aping handlers? The Washington Post, p. A3.
Eckholm, E. (1985, June 25). Kanzi the chimp: A life in science. The New York
Times, pp. C1, C3.
Fouts, R. (1997). Next of kin: What chimpanzees taught me about who we
are. New York: William Morrow.
In the examples of works cited pages, the header should be centered. It should start on a new page, be six spaces from the top, and be numbered consecutively. In other words, if your paper is eight pages long, the Works Cited page will be number nine. The heading needs to have a double space below it. Entries are in alphabetical order, are not numbered, and are flush with the left margin. The second line and subsequent lines need to be indented five spaces and all lines are doubled spaced.
Entry Format Rules
The examples of works cited pages should help you see how to format your page. Here are some rules for the format of the entries:
- Italicize the titles of books, magazines, films, etc.
- Quotation marks go around titles of poems, articles, and short stories.
- Authors are listed by their last name first.
Following are examples to further explain sources that are not covered by the previous rules. The examples are not double spaced as they would be in your paper.
Two authors: Caper, Charles and Lawrence T. Teamos (1986). How to Camp.
Three or more authors: Ellis, Doris et.al. (1989) History of Japan. New York:
Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc..
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Twice-Told Tales. Ed. George Parsons Lathrop.
Boston: Houghton, 1883. 1 Mar. 2002.
Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword: Doctorow, E.L. Introduction.
Sister Carrie. By Theodore Dreiser. New York: Bantam, 1985. v-xi.
One volume of multivolume work: Stowe, Harriet Beecher. "Sojourner Truth,
the Libyan Sibyl." 1863. The Heath Anthology of American Literature.
Ed. Paul Lauter et al. Vol. 1. Lexington, Heath, 1994. 2425-33.
Computer Software: Maps 'n' Facts. Computer Software. Broderbund
Poem online: Frost, James. "Strawberries in a Field." Literature Resource
Center. Alabama Virtual Library. 15 March 2004. .
Encyclopedia on the Internet: "Egypt." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Vers. 97.1.1. Mar. 1997. Encyclopedia Britannica. 29 Feb. 2000.
George Lucas (Director). (1980) Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher
(Performers). The Empire Strikes Back (Motion Picture). United States:
Twentieth Century Fox.
Unknown (Director). (1990) Civil War Diary. (Videotape). United States: New
Gale Literary Criticism Online (Signed): McCarron, Bill. "Images of War and
Peace: Parallelism and Antithesis in the Beginning and Ending of Cold
Mountain." The Mississippi Quarterly. 52.2 (1999): 273. Galegroup.com.
Alabama Virtual Library. 25 February 2003.