Works Cited Different Than Bibliography Definition

Most everything written or published in the higher academy is cited. The citation of sources prevents plagiarism, helps a professor fact-check an essay or paper for accuracy, and can aid the student in finding information if they decide to return to a certain source in the future. Learning the importance of citing sources is something any and every student should learn wholeheartedly and always embrace because, at the college or university level, it is a fact of life.


ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY EXAMPLES


However, with the overwhelming bombardment of information and terminology in higher education, it can be a challenge doing things the correct way – and can get very confusing. This certainly applies to a writing assignment requiring a student to cite the sources they have used, referred to or encountered in compiling information and writing an essay or research paper. A Works Cited page and Bibliography are perfect examples: the two are often used interchangeably, mean close to the same thing, yet have entirely different purposes, meanings, and implications.

The Bibliography

Bibliographies, which are mostly found at the end of a book or published an academic article, are a list of the books or other articles referred to in a scholarly work – and are not merely a simple paper, essay or research paper written by an undergraduate. Usually printed as an appendix, bibliographies provide an overview of what has been published on a topic. Some bibliographies are annotated, meaning they include a brief summary of each work’s contents and explain how it was relevant in writing about the subject of the paper. A bibliography is an ideal starting point for the student looking to conduct research on a specific topic or range of topics. However, some professors may require their students to make a list of all the sources that informed the student writing the paper – those that may have lead the student to other, more recent sources. In this case, a bibliography may be best. 

The Works Cited

The Works Cited, often referred to as the “Works Cited Page,” is a separate page at the end of a student’s essay or research paper; it lists the sources they used in the writing and completing their assignment – whether they used information in direct quotes, rephrased summaries, the incorporation of data and general information, like statistics. Whenever a student borrows legitimate information from any reputable source (anything that is not common knowledge: “the capital of Thailand is Bangkok”), that information needs to be cited in MLA style. This list should be alphabetized by authors’ last names – or by editors’ or translators’ names – and should have “Works Cited” as a centered heading. In many cases, one’s professor may read the student’s Works Cited page first to get a feel for the kind of effort put into the assignment. 


FOOTNOTES VS. ENDNOTES


Student, keep in mind! In the event, a student is not sure which exactly their professor prefers – works cited, bibliography or an annotated bibliography – that student should talk with their professor; rather than risk getting a low grade, it is best they inquire early on in getting an assignment.

Reference list vs. bibliography

Reference lists (in MLA style called “lists of works cited”) contain a complete list of all the sources (books, journal articles, websites, etc.) that you have cited directly in a document. That means that if there are in-text citations for a source there is a reference list entry, and vice versa.

Bibliographies, on the other hand, contain all sources that you have used, whether they are directly cited or not. A bibliography includes sources that you have used to generate ideas or ‘read around’ a topic, but have not referred to directly in the body of the document.

Which to use

For most assignments at Massey University, you will be expected to provide only a reference list. If you have used any source in your assignment you are expected to say where you have used it by citing it directly.

Some assignments may require a reference list and a bibliography, or a bibliography in place of a reference list. If this is the case, you will be instructed to in your course materials. Some referencing styles (for example, Oxford style) always use a bibliography in place of a reference list. Some lecturers may use the term “bibliography” to mean a reference list, so if there is any uncertainty it's best to ask your lecturer.

Styles of reference list and bibliography

Annotated bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a type of assignment that involves a list of sources, but also a summary and evaluation of each source's content and purpose. For more information, see annotated bibliography.

In publications

Books and other publications often distinguish between “selected” bibliographies and “full” bibliographies. Selected bibliographies only list a few of the most important works cited. Full bibliographies list every work cited and potentially other relevant sources. Again, you will be told directly if you need to do this.

Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 25 October, 2012

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