Distinguishing Between Bibliography & Works Cited

Bibliography vs Works Cited

Understanding the difference between a bibliography and works cited is crucial for creating a well-researched paper. These two terms are often mistakenly seen as interchangeable. Typically, a research paper will require one list of sources used. However, depending on the guidelines, you may need to include a page for the works you have actually cited and a list of all the sources you have cited, including those you have not cited but have read. Recognizing the difference between bibliography and works cited is essential.

What is a Bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of books and other sources referred to by the writer of a thesis, dissertation, or research paper. The researcher may have consulted various books, journals, and websites to enhance their knowledge of the topic. They may have even quoted from the books in their thesis. Therefore, a bibliography includes all the sources the researcher referred to, whether they were cited or paraphrased in the text or merely consulted without citing or paraphrasing. The style in which you include the source depends on the style you follow throughout your research paper. For example, if your paper is in MLA format, the bibliography should also follow the same format. A bibliography should be organized alphabetically.

What is Works Cited?

Works cited, on the other hand, is an alphabetical list of the works referenced in a thesis. This term is used exclusively with the MLA (Modern Language Association) style of research paper writing. In APA format (American Psychological Association), the equivalent to works cited is known as ‘References’ or ‘Reference List.’ The format for arranging works cited is as follows: Surname of the author, first name. Name of the book (underlined). Place of publication: Name of the publisher, year of publication.

Key Takeaways

  • It is essential to put books in alphabetical order when writing both a bibliography and works cited, as this is considered a standard rule by research study experts.
  • In a bibliography, you mention all the books and journals you have referred to while writing the thesis, whereas, in works cited, you only mention the books and other sources of information that you have cited in your dissertation or thesis.
  • Works cited is the term used for the reference list in MLA style, while the bibliography can have different formats depending on the style followed in the research paper.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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