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Difference Between Reference And Bibliography Uk Top

Knowing the proper term for your paper’s list of citations can be confusing. Do I call it a works cited page? Should it actually be called a bibliography? How is it different from a reference list? In this article, we explain what these three terms mean and how they are different or related to one another.

To begin, each citation style has its own way of naming the list of sources you used in your paper. Here we break down the differences in these list types, so that you can better understand which option works best for your work.

Works Cited

A “Works Cited” list is an alphabetical list of works cited, or sources you specifically called out while composing your paper. All works that you have quoted or paraphrased should be included. Works Cited is generally used when citing sources using MLA format (Modern Language Association) style, and sources should be listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

Example Works Cited entry:

Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution. Oxford UP, 2007.

References or “Reference List”

A “Reference List” is very similar to a Works Cited list, and is a term used when citing sources using APA format (American Psychological Association) style. The page should be titled “References,” and is arranged alphabetically by author last name.

Example References entry:

Middlekauff, R. (2007). The glorious cause: The American Revolution. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Bibliographies, on the other hand, differ greatly from Works Cited and References lists. In Works Cited and References, you only list items you have actually referred to and cited in your paper. A Bibliography, meanwhile, lists all the material you have consulted in preparing your essay, whether you have actually referred to and cited the work or not. This includes all sources that you have used in order to do any research. Bibliographies are often used in Chicago and Turabian citation styles. They usually contain a long reference that has a corresponding footnote within the body of the paper.

Example Bibliography entry:

Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007.



MHRA referencing distinguishes between citations for primary texts (e.g. novels, poems etc) and secondary texts (e.g. critical works, additional information).

Most in-text citations are in footnotes. Full details (including editions and translation details if appropriate) should be included in the footnotes for the first mention of a text for both primary and secondary texts. After this, a shortened version can be used, either in brackets in the body of the text, or in footnotes. Whichever method you choose, be consistent.

Examples for primary and secondary texts:

In-text, first mention, primary text: (in footnote) Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, ed. by Thomas H. Johnson (London: Faber, 1970) p. 172. All further references to this text are from this edition and are given parenthetically in the essay.

In-text, following mentions, primary text: (in body of text) (Dickinson, p.174) or (p.174)

In-text, first mention, secondary text: (in footnote) Brian Vickers, Francis Bacon and Renaissance Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968) p. 49.

In-text, following mentions, secondary text: (in footnote) Vickers, p. 85.

In bibliography, primary and secondary texts: Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, ed. by Thomas H. Johnson (London: Faber, 1970).

For more information (but always check your course handbook first):

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