Works cited, references, and bibliography–aren’t they all the same? Why is one professor asking for a bibliography and a works cited and another is asking for references?
Many of you come in with concerns about citing sources. For the next couple weeks, I’ll try to answer some of your questions.
First of all, I do understand that correctly citing sources can be difficult. As a writer, I’m constantly looking up citation style guides just to make sure I’m not missing some important format or detail. (I use many references, but one of the easiest is the Purdue OWL; it was recently updated.) Citing is made even more difficult because guides are constantly changing to stay up-to-date with communication trends. For example, just last week I found a reputable source discussing how to cite Twitter and Facebook.
Today I’ll try to help you distinguish among these three words: works cited, references, and bibliography. In the process you may even discover a question to use on your friends when you’re on a long trip and begin playing silly car games. If your friend pops off with, what’s the capital of North Dakota, you can whip this question at her: what’s the difference between a works cited and a bibliography?
You’ve probably used an in-text citation similar to this one in a research paper.
If you use this citation style, you would have a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. Including an alphabetized list of every source you directly quote or paraphrase in your paper makes it easy for your reader to find these sources. Here’s the MLA entry for this source:
Are you still wondering what a bibliography is? A bibliography is a more extensive list of works; it includes works you consulted and that influenced your writing even if you didn’t specifically mention them in your piece. I’ve heard these terms used incorrectly many times. You may find some people will ask you for a bibliography when what they really want is either a Works Cited or a Reference page.
And the capital of North Dakota is BISMARCK! Your friend doesn’t have a chance!