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How to Write a Bibliography in MLA Style

written by: Stephanie Michael • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 6/6/2012

Writing a bibliography is not exactly fun but it’s such an important part of a research paper. Using and properly citing credible sources backs up your essay. Learn the basic steps of putting together a bibliography in MLA style.

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    A bibliography is used to reference the sources you use in a research paper or essay. Using reputable sources lends credibility to your argument or stance and also shows that you put in the research time while forming your opinion. A source can be a book, magazine article, lecture, website, interview and more. It can support your stance or it may provide a stance other than your own. Your job is to use the information to make your point stronger.

    These directions are for MLA style. Take note of what style the teacher asks you to use and make adjustments accordingly.

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    Collect as You Go

    Collect the information for your bibliography as you do your research. At the top of a blank sheet of paper write the following:

    1. Name of the author (or authors, in alphabetical order)
    2. Title or subtitle of the book or article
    3. Place of publication
    4. Publisher
    5. Date of publication
    6. Page number

    Write the information in that order; you’ll see why later on. As you research write your quotes or perhaps pages of interest and their summarized message. Once you’ve gone through all of your sources and written the information, you really won’t need the books. Just use your notes.

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    Putting it Together

    Now all you have to do is put it together. The order listed above is the order you want to list the information in your bibliography. Here is an example of a bibliography for Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

    Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, 1999.

    • There is a period placed between the author's name and the title and the title and the publishing information.
    • The publisher’s location is separated from its name by a semi colon and the name is separated from the date of publication by a comma.
    • If the information needed is not provided by the book, you do not have to add it.
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    Sources Other Than Books

    Writing a bibliography for other sources is just a matter of getting the right information and listing it in the right order.

    To write bibliography for a website you need

    • the author
    • the title of Article in quotation marks
    • the title of magazine, journal, newspaper, newsletter, book, encyclopedia, website, or project, italicized
    • the editor
    • the type of material: interview, map, advertisement, etc.
    • the date the article or site was published
    • the group responsible for the page for Internet sources
    • for web pages, the date you accessed the information and the complete URL.
    • An example of a website citation would be:
    • Use periods to separate information and make sure to place the URL inside . Often websites will not list all the information asked for above so just make sure to list what you can.