A strict definition of a bibliography is a list of all sources cited in your assignment plus any background reading or other material you have read when preparing your work, but not actually cited in it. This is different to a reference list which is a list of only those sources that you have cited in your assignment. However, in reality, many people use the term ‘bibliography’ to mean ‘reference list’ which can be confusing. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources.  

Only one

Normally you only have a bibliography or a reference list, not both. Check with your lecturer if you are not sure what they want.


It is usually simpler and easier to have a reference list as it is more clear-cut. You only need to include those sources you actually refer to in your assignment. If a source has influenced you, it really should be referenced somewhere in your assignment.


For more on how to format a bibliography or reference list see Brookes’ Library pages on referencing including the Cite Them Right Online resource: