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Citing references

Guidance on citing references for students at the University of Reading

Reference list vs bibliography - what's the difference?

reference list is a list of all the sources that you have referred to in your text. A reference list may be ordered in alphabetical order of authors' names, or numerically, depending on the referencing system you are using.

If you have been asked to include a reference list, you may also include a bibliography which lists works that you have read but not cited.

bibliography lists all the sources you used when researching your assignment. You may include texts that you have not referred to directly in your work, but which have had an influence on your ideas. If you find you have a lot of works that are not referred to directly though, you may wish to look back over your work and check that all of the ideas are fully referenced.

Compiling a reference list or bibliography

Compiling a reference list

A reference list should be ordered alphabetically by author’s surname unless you are using a numeric referencing system. In this case, sources are assigned a number when they first appear in the text, and are listed in numerical order.

Example bibliography using the Harvard referencing style

Abu Salem, H., Gemail, K.S. and Nosair, A.M. (2021) 'A multidisciplinary approach for delineating wastewater flow paths in shallow groundwater aquifers: A case study in the southeastern part of the Nile Delta, Egypt', Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 236, pp. 103701.

Ashbourn, J. (2014) Biometrics in the new world: the cloud, mobile technology and pervasive identity. 2nd edn. London: Springer.

Environment Agency (2020) The flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy action plan 2021. Bristol: Environment Agency.

Mintel (2019) Sports and energy drinks - UK.  Available at: (Accessed: 5th July 2021).

Nasta, S. and Stein, M.U. (ed.) (2020) The Cambridge history of Black and Asian British writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tiwari, S. and Ambinakudige, S. (2020) 'Streetscapes and stereotyping: streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr., and the geographies of racial identity', GeoJournal, doi:10.1007/s10708-020-10291-4.

World Health Organization (2020) Salt reduction. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2021)

Compiling a bibliography

Use a single list which integrates all the different types of source material you have used. The exception is where you have discussed a number of primary sources (such as novels, films, ancient sources, letters, historical documents etc), when you should separate your bibliography into primary and secondary sources. All lists should be ordered alphabetically by first-named author's surname or organisation if there is no named author.

Video on compiling a bibliography

Although this video focuses on compiling a bibliography most of the guidance also applies to compiling a reference list.