How To Write Bibliography Sample

Below are standard formats and examples for basic bibliographic information recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA). For more information on the APA format, see


Your list of works cited should begin at the end of the paper on a new page with the centered title, References. Alphabetize the entries in your list by the author's last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) Only the initials of the first and middle names are given. If the author's name is unknown, alphabetize by the title, ignoring any A, An, or The.

For dates, spell out the names of months in the text of your paper, but abbreviate them in the list of works cited, except for May, June, and July. Use either the day-month-year style (22 July 1999) or the month-day-year style (July 22, 1999) and be consistent. With the month-day-year style, be sure to add a comma after the year unless another punctuation mark goes there.

Underlining or Italics?

When reports were written on typewriters, the names of publications were underlined because most typewriters had no way to print italics. If you write a bibliography by hand, you should still underline the names of publications. But, if you use a computer, then publication names should be in italics as they are below. Always check with your instructor regarding their preference of using italics or underlining. Our examples use italics.

Hanging Indentation

All APA citations should use hanging indents, that is, the first line of an entry should be flush left, and the second and subsequent lines should be indented 1/2".

Capitalization, Abbreviation, and Punctuation

The APA guidelines specify using sentence-style capitalization for the titles of books or articles, so you should capitalize only the first word of a title and subtitle. The exceptions to this rule would be periodical titles and proper names in a title which should still be capitalized. The periodical title is run in title case, and is followed by the volume number which, with the title, is also italicized.

If there is more than one author, use an ampersand (&) before the name of the last author. If there are more than six authors, list only the first one and use et al. for the rest.

Place the date of publication in parentheses immediately after the name of the author. Place a period after the closing parenthesis. Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works within longer works.

Format Examples


Author's last name, first initial. (Publication date). Book title. Additional information. City of publication: Publishing company.


Allen, T. (1974). Vanishing wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

Boorstin, D. (1992). The creators: A history of the heroes of the imagination. New York: Random House.

Nicol, A. M., & Pexman, P. M. (1999). Presenting your findings: A practical guide for creating tables. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Searles, B., & Last, M. (1979). A reader's guide to science fiction. New York: Facts on File, Inc.

Toomer, J. (1988). Cane. Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: Norton.

Encyclopedia & Dictionary

Author's last name, first initial. (Date). Title of Article. Title of Encyclopedia (Volume, pages). City of publication: Publishing company.


Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The new encyclopedia britannica (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). (1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

Pettingill, O. S., Jr. (1980). Falcon and Falconry. World book encyclopedia. (pp. 150-155). Chicago: World Book.

Tobias, R. (1991). Thurber, James. Encyclopedia americana. (p. 600). New York: Scholastic Library Publishing.

Magazine & Newspaper Articles

Author's last name, first initial. (Publication date). Article title. Periodical title, volume number(issue number if available), inclusive pages.

Note: Do not enclose the title in quotation marks. Put a period after the title. If a periodical includes a volume number, italicize it and then give the page range (in regular type) without "pp." If the periodical does not use volume numbers, as in newspapers, use p. or pp. for page numbers.
Note: Unlike other periodicals, p. or pp. precedes page numbers for a newspaper reference in APA style.


Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 893-896.

Henry, W. A., III. (1990, April 9). Making the grade in today's schools. Time, 135, 28-31.

Kalette, D. (1986, July 21). California town counts town to big quake. USA Today, 9, p. A1.

Kanfer, S. (1986, July 21). Heard any good books lately? Time, 113, 71-72.

Trillin, C. (1993, February 15). Culture shopping. New Yorker, pp. 48-51.

Website or Webpage

Online periodical:
Author's name. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number, Retrieved month day, year, from full URL

Online document:
Author's name. (Date of publication). Title of work. Retrieved month day, year, from full URL

Note: When citing Internet sources, refer to the specific website document. If a document is undated, use "n.d." (for no date) immediately after the document title. Break a lengthy URL that goes to another line after a slash or before a period. Continually check your references to online documents. There is no period following a URL.
Note: If you cannot find some of this information, cite what is available.


Devitt, T. (2001, August 2). Lightning injures four at music festival. The Why? Files. Retrieved January 23, 2002, from

Dove, R. (1998). Lady freedom among us. The Electronic Text Center. Retrieved June 19, 1998, from Alderman Library, University of Virginia website:

Note: If a document is contained within a large and complex website (such as that for a university or a government agency), identify the host organization and the relevant program or department before giving the URL for the document itself. Precede the URL with a colon.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2000, March 7). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being. Prevention & Treatment, 3, Article 0001a. Retrieved November 20, 2000, from

GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from

Health Canada. (2002, February). The safety of genetically modified food crops. Retrieved March 22, 2005, from

Hilts, P. J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people flunk out. New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2000, from


Sample Bibliography: APA Reference List Format

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Annotated Bibliography Samples


This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Contributors: Geoff Stacks, Erin Karper, Dana Bisignani, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-02-20 13:19:26


For a sample of an entry from an annotated bibliography entry in PDF, click on the downloadable file in the media box above.

Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.

As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.

Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.

Sample MLA Annotation

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecuritiesand failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters inLamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.

In the process, Lamottincludes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.

For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 2016 Formatting and Style Guide.

Sample APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide.

Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess. London: Routledge, 1998.

Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.

This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.

For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources. 


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