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How to Write a Bibliography for a Book

If you’ve used various references to create the manuscript for a book, then there’s a good chance that you’ll need to compose a bibliography.

Your bibliography will keep track of every reference that you have used. It will also help you to stay on track with your background research plans. There are no shortcuts here, but there are some different formats that can be used to convey the information you’ve collected.

Here is what you’ll need to collect for each printed resources that you’ve used.

  • Name of the author(s).
  • Title of the publication OR the title of the article if found in a magazine or periodical.
  • Date of the publication.
  • Place of publication when citing a book.
  • Publishing company when citing a book.
  • Volume number for a periodical.
  • The page number(s) where the information was found.

If you found the information for your book from a website, then the information that must be collected is about the same. You’ll also need to include these three specific data points to make sure you cite the reference properly in your bibliography.

  • The company, business, or individual who posted the content online.
  • The URL (website address) where the content was found.
  • The date you accessed the information OR the last date you reviewed the data.

Once you have collected all of this information from every research resource you used for writing the book, you’ll be able to choose the format that works best for you.

Is MLA or APA the Correct Formatting for Your Bibliography?

MLA is a common format for a book bibliography. Under this format, you will be creating a “works cited” list that is alphabetized by author name. If there are multiple authors listed for a resource, then the lead author will be used for alphabetizing purposes.

If the author of a work is unknown in MLA formatting, then that resource will be alphabetized by the title of the work. Do not use “A,” “An,” or “The,” to alphabetize.

In the past, titles were underlined in this bibliography format because typewriters couldn’t write in italicized fonts. Computer software does not have this limitation. Every title should be italicized. Also make sure to capitalize the first word, last word, and all principal words of the title in the words being published.

Never use abbreviations in a bibliography unless they are commonly used and understood in your particular subject materials.

Here is an example of MLA formatting.

Last name of author. First name. Title of Book or Article. Added information. City of publication. Publishing company, publication date.

APA formatting is similar to MLA formatting, but with a few notable exceptions. You would only use the first and middle initial of the author’s name in the bibliography after the last name. When you list the publication date in the bibliography, the month should be abbreviated unless it falls in the months of May, June, or July.

The publication date is also placed after the author’s name in APA formatting instead of after the name of the publisher. The date should be in parenthesis as well.

If there are more than 6 authors listed for a researched item, then the lead author should be listed and then et. Al will follow to indicate the additional authors. 5 or fewer authors requires every author to be listed.

Here is an example of APA formatting

Last name of author. First and Middle initial. (Publication Date). Title of Book or Article. Additional information. City of publication. Publication company.

Then make sure that every research item is included to make sure your works have been properly cited.

Is MLA Formatting Better than APA Formatting?

MLA formatting is the leading style of documentation for writing research. It is used for general purpose writing. If you were creating a bibliography for a fictional book or a non-fiction book that expresses facts in a way that is intended to help someone learn (like a student in school), then this would generally be the formatting style to use.
APA formatting is generally reserved for scientific research. If you were writing a book that was going to be published as a scientific reference, then this is the type of formatting to use for the bibliography.

APA formatting focuses on precision without distraction. MLA formatting offers a more conversational style will still getting the references listed.

A bibliography is necessary to avoid charges of plagiarism. If you have cited information from your research that is directly attributed to a different author, book, or media source, then list that information in a bibliography at the end of your book to make sure everyone gets the full credit they deserve.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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