Bibliography

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A Bibliography is a "list of books". This may be as part of a handout in an academic course, or it may be in a textbook. In such a case, it is usually much the same as a reading list - that is, the titles of a number of books or other sources that your teacher, or the author of the textbook, recommends you to read. (Very few students actually read ALL the works recommended in a Bibliography or on a reading list - though this should not stop you trying. But you should realise that teachers often give a choice to students, rather than absolute orders to read everything about a subject.)

In your own work, you too should include a list of books. The exact form that this should take depends on several factors. One of these is the Referencing system your department wants you to use.

  • In the form of the Author-date system of referencing that is often called the Harvard system in Britain and the British Commonwealth, a distinction is often made between a Bibliography and the List of References. A List of References is strictly a List of all the sources to which you have made reference in your work. Here, the Bibliography is an additional list, not usually asked for. It should contain all the works mentioned in the List of References, and also any other sources you used in preparing for the piece of writing in question. (It may be questioned whether it is possible to mention all one's sources: should this include the name of the parent or teacher who taught the author to write?)
  • Other systems of referencing ask for a Bibliography as the normal inclusive collection of references at the end of your work - the one that most versions of the author-date system calls a List of References.

The adjective from Bibliography is bibliographic. There is an article on the Bibliographic details usually needed in academic work.