Reference list

A precise definition of a reference list is a list of only the sources you cited in your assignment itself. This is different to a bibliography which contains both sources cited in your assignment plus any other sources used for background reading but not actually cited. However, 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.  


A reference list comes at the end of an assignment and, in styles like Harvard and APA (name, date) is ordered alphabetically by author’s surname. The same is broadly also true of footnoting systems such as Chicago or MHRA, though when using these systems your department may also require you to divide your bibliography into sections based on the types of sources used.


For more on how to format a bibliography or reference list, including a link to Cite them Right Online, see Brookes' Library pages on referencing: