QR:  Referencing and bibliography

Referencing and bibliography

A good essay acknowledges all the sources used within the essay itself (references) and at the end of it (bibliography).


The reference within the text is a hint at the book, article or other source you have used in that particular sentence or paragraph. References within your essay only provide the author’s surname and the year of publication (Smith, 2015) and if you used a direct quotation with quotation marks then you add the page number (Smith, 2015: 37).



The bibliography is a list of articles, books or relevant other sources you have used for your essay.

There are many different styles of citation and every institution and even every department or subject area within these institutions may have a slightly different approach to referencing and bibliography. Generally though, it is necessary to be consistent throughout your essay. The most common citation styles are Harvard, APA, Cambridge and Oxford.


Irrespective of the citation style, you usually have to provide the following information: author’s name, publication year, title of the publication and/or journal, place of publication and publishing company.

You may want to consider to invest in citation software, which is a great help with in-text references and bibliographies. For example, you just enter the ISBN number of a book and the database comes up with the correct citation details. You can then choose the citation style to be used and the software does it all for you.


Examples for a bibliography:

If you used a book:

Author’s surname, author’s first name initial. (Year of publication). The Book Title. Place of publication: publishing company.

Smith, J. (2015). How to Write References and Bibliographies. Ramsgate: Saint Lawrence Press.


If you used a journal article:

Author’s surname, author’s first name initial. (Year of publication). “The title of the article”. The title of the journal. Volume number, page numbers.

Smith, J. (2015). “How to Write References and Bibliographies”. The School Journal. 3, 23 – 45.