resources   How to Write a Bibliography for your Assignment

Variously called “list of works”, “list of references”, “works cited” or simply references, a bibliography is basically a list of books, journal articles, individual chapters in books and online resources that students provide at the end of their essays, dissertations or theses. The word comes from ‘bibliographia’ meaning study of books. Often neglected and misunderstood, an exhaustive bibliography is essential to impress the teacher. Here is all that you need to know about bibliography.

Types of bibliography

A bibliography may either be descriptive or enumerative. Here are two sample bibliographies in order to clear the point.

1. Enumerative bibliography:

An enumerative bibliography is list of books, journal articles, chapters in books and online resources used by a student or a scholar while writing an assignment or a scholarly article. It is published at the end of the main body of an article, a book or a written assignment. It consists of all the literary and non-literary sources which may include: books, encyclopedias, reference works, journal articles (online or published), chapters in a particular book, name of interviewees (if applicable) and websites. An enumerative bibliography should be divided into separate section, each referring to one genre of literature. Since the sources may be of primary or secondary help, care should be taken to list all the primary materials first followed by the secondary materials. Names of authors should come first, then the name of the literary work, the name of the publisher, year and place of publication. Names of authors should come in an alphabetical fashion. Names of journals should be put within single/double inverted commas while names of books can be put in italics. Names of internet resources should always be followed by the dates on which they were accessed.

Sample enumerative bibliography:

Bibliography on World War II


Taylor, A.J.P., The Origins of the Second World War, Fawcett Books, 1961, London.


Joseph F. McCloskey, “British Operational Research in World War II”, Journal of Operations Research, Vol. No 35, No 3 (May-June 1987), pp. 453-70.


Interview with Harold Gunnes, World War II war veteran (interview taken on 22nd July 1991)

Internet resources , U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (accessed on 11th April 1992)

2. Descriptive bibliography:

A descriptive bibliography is a written essay (sometimes it can be a full-fledged book length work), the chief function of which is to give sufficient data so that the reader may identify the book, understand its publication details and recognize its context.

Descriptive bibliography is however written exclusively by experts and not by students. Here is an example:

Sample descriptive bibliography:

Bibliography on World War II:

“The literature on 2nd World War is extensive. However, A.J.P. Taylor’s work The Origins of the Second World War, Fawcett Books, London, 1961, provides us with a rare glimpse of the many hidden aspects of war and revises several well accepted assumptions including the theory that the war was a result of a criminal conspiracy of Hitler and his associates. Among journal articles, use may be made of Joseph F. McCloskey’s work, “British Operational Research in World War II”, Journal of Operations Research, Vol. No 35, No 3 (May-June 1987), pp. 453-70, which gives a detailed description of the actual military operations carried on by the British forces during the 2nd World War. Among the surviving US war veterans mention may be made of Harold Gunnes. Gunnes led a small US regiment against Russia in Europe. Finally US National Archives has digitized all the classified war files and diplomatic dispatches pertaining to the war along with letters of soldiers and war memoirs. They can be found in”

These two sample bibliographies of the same historical incident were given in order to help the students to write bibliographies better. They may be a bit tedious but done correctly, they are richly rewarding.

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