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Citing references

Guidance on citing references for students at the University of Reading

Compiling a bibliography

A 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.

In most cases, a bibliography is a single alphabetically-ordered list of all the sources used, regardless of format. So books, journal articles and websites would all be listed together.

The exception is where you have used a number of primary sources - literary works, primary source documents, or multimedia, for instance. Here you would have a separate headed list.

A reference list lists only the sources that you have referred to in your text. 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.

A reference list may be ordered in alphabetical order of authors' names, or numerically, depending on the referencing system you are using. A bibliography will always be ordered in alphabetical order of authors' names.

Compiling a bibliography or reference list

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The exception is where you have discussed a number of primary sources (such as novels, films, ancient sources, letters, historical documents etc), when you should separate your bibliography into primary and secondary sources.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.

A reference list should be treated the same way as a bibliography 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 Harvard referencing:

Anon. (1981). Coffee drinking and cancer of the pancreas. British Medical Journal, 283, 628.

Bould, M. & Reid, M. (eds) (2005). Parietal Games: Critical Writings by and on M. John Harrison. Cambridge: Science Fiction Foundation.

Hamilakis, Y., Pluciennik, M. & Tarlow, S. (2001). Academic Performances, Artistic Presentations. Assemblage, 6. (accessed 08/07/02).

Royal Horticultural Society (n.d.). Plant finder: Genista. Online at (accessed 25/08/07).

Shahabudin, K. (2006). From Greek Myth to Hollywood Story: Explanatory Narrative in Troy. In M. M. Winkler (ed.), Troy: From Homer's Iliad to Hollywood Epic. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 107-118.

Turner, J.E., Henry, L.A. & Smith. P.T. (2000). The development of the use of long-term knowledge to assist short-term recall. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Section A. 53.2, 457-478.

Watch this brief video tutorial on Compiling a bibliography (link will open an external website):