Guide to Bibliography -Meaning, components, importance, 5 types, structure and alphabetical composition of a bibliography

Guide to Bibliography -Meaning, components, importance, 5 types, structure and alphabetical composition of a bibliography

A bibliography is always required at the end of a piece of work by an institution or supervisor. Many a time, you may be required by your supervisor or institution to provide a bibliography at the end of a piece of work, in addition to a reference list. What is the difference?

What do you know about biography? When we discuss biography, we’re talking about big business like Euclid’s concept of weight or Archimedes’s perception of size. This is one auxiliary way of learning information about famous characters, personals, and even yourself.

Before you begin writing a biography there is a need to know all the major elements that makeup one. But before that let’s start with the collective definition of what you are about t indulge yourself in.

What is a Bibliography?

In a nutshell, a bibliography can be regarded as a list of all the sources which were cited or consulted during the compilation of an academic piece. Similarly, it can be regarded as the complete list of references which are used in an academic piece of writing.

A bibliography is a list of the books and articles that have been used by someone when writing a particular book or article. A bibliography is said to have all the works cited in a paper, but it may also include other works that the author consulted, even if they are not mentioned in the text. Some bibliographies contain only the sources that the author feels are most significant or useful to readers.

A biography is a type of literary exposition, frequently pain-staked non-fictional, with a subject centered on the life of a specific individual whether celebrated or not. This form of literary expression is grey at the top, it pursues to redevise in words the life of a human being—by sketching out all available evidence, like their place of birth, interest, education, etc.   With the inclusion of those reserved in memory as well as written, oral, and pictorial material.

Examples of such academic pieces could include an essay, a dissertation or thesis, a research journal and so on. An ideal bibliography ought to be written in alphabetical order. This post will guide you on how you can manually arrange your bibliography alphabetically.

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Your biography should account for the significant moment, career, and even relations—those who influenced the upbringing of the subject. Etc. it should also record accomplishments and major milestones. Many would say a biography is simply the spin-off from facts, but it’s really not just a record book, what breathes life into it is the stories told, and of course, plain stories would just bore readers, so you fine-tune words till each line becomes exciting—this I would disclose as you read further. Did you understand the above?

How do I go about a biography- what are the basic elements required?

In writing about a person you’d need to have exhaustive knowledge about who he/she is. A good biographer is one that explores deep into the life of sentient existence and unearths factors that aren’t usually written on the face and then publishes them for public viewing.  The number has been crunched and the fact has been gathered as pertaining to factors that are expected to reflect on a good or rather well-written biography are;

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Current place of residence
  • Educational background
  • CareerSkills
  • Major achievement and milestones

Not winding up presumptuous but if there is a case whereby you are expected to write on a public or influential figure you might need to add the following;

  • Body physique and measurement
  • Marital/relational status
  • Net worth

Pay due caution to the above it might take you by surprise when I tell you not all elements are to be applied in every bio, the most relevant of them should be singled out and expatiated on the rest can be hauled away. But which in particular can be deemed relevant?  This brings us back to bullet points and columns, first should be

  • Name: there won’t be a need to expatiate or elaborate on this, except if the subject of the article had initiated a name change or has a unique moniker with an extended intriguing back story to it
  • Birth: dropping a pin on the exact date of birth doesn’t cut it, of course, you’d have to tell readers what happened after, who influenced his/her life while (s)he was coming of age, what significant moment gave him/ her the scar on her arm while (S)he was young or which object did (s)he fall off from. Aside from that, there would also be a need to display where( s)he spent him/her childhood like Lil Wayne spent his in Holly groove streets in New Orleans, Brie Larson spent hers in Sacramento California. Share information about what transpired that made Mingua  Mingua a liberalist and freedom fighter
  • Adult life:  this is one subfactor that supplants the above factor. Usually, this takes a more larger percent of the entire biography, once more focus on significant events and the force that acted upon the event that made it important, for example, will smith wedded Jada Pinkett, was there something that led to their union? If yes, then surely your readers would want to know, because this is one of the core aspects that impels your readers to treasure hunt for your work. Include relationships and marital status, it is essential.
  • Death: if the subject of the biography is deceased, you’d most likely be expected to give an in-depth well sourced out paragraph if not a full page of the event that resulted in his/her demise.
  • Milestones, interesting facts, and achievement: if the person has been called out severally for awards, if (s) he has been achieving inhumane feats, if (s) he has been the subject of articles, books, or even the talk of town it’d be needful to write it down, whatever can sustain the attention of readers should be on the front page of the bio.
  • Photograph of the person:   the case of mistaken identity has not been a new development; there is a need to input the image of the subject.
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Is that clear?

As you go about writing biographies do not fail to consider readers, here is a useful tip on how to handle the audience; write more on what you feel is interesting about the person, people’s preferences are different, no doubt, but more on what is amusing and diverting about a single person is bound to attract the interest of others.

Without ignoring the pocket full of revelation there is a demand to express further how to make a plain biography alluring to read, before you begin, seek consent from the subject first, that is if he/she is at arm’s reach. Why is this needful you might ask if the subject agrees he would most likely disclose useful information about himself to you, the kind he seldom tells.

Initiate thorough research on the subject

If it turns out that you’re a tad too like, as in, 100 years late and the subject is already deceased, engage yourself in thorough research about the person. For example, if you want to write a biography about Vlad Tepes or Nero Ceaser or even Countess Elizabeth, you’d already resolve within yourself that you are sane enough not to bend over and question their graves for useful information.

The stress and demands would be exacting and depriving it’d be brilliant of you to search their life’s expedition and record it accurately in chronological order. The more thorough it is the more readers would want to plough it for more information. This applies to all, not only the deceased

Seam out a thesis statement

After initiating a full sale research, proceed to form your thesis statement, what do I mean by this? Your opening chapter or paragraph should notify your reader about what they’ll be compelled to absorb in the pages they are yet to cover.

Create a timeline

For the sake of being clear, make a timeline of events—structure your write-up in chronological order this way you’d know which event should precede and which should succeed. With this, making a poorly constructed work riddled with errors and disorientation would be long evaded.

 Adopt the use of flashback

Naturally, the use of flashback is strictly to strengthen the pedestals of clarity, but in this case, the purpose for adopting a flashback doesn’t really fall too far from its tree, there will be situations where you’d lack the appropriate wordings to conjoin an experience with a line of another, using a flashback would allow you tap into such without foiling the structure or word flow of your work.


What is the difference between Bibliography and Reference List?

Before answering that question you need to know that there’s no such thing as a bibliography in APA Style. It’s a fact! APA Style uses text citations and a reference list, rather than footnotes and a bibliography, to document sources.

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A reference list and a bibliography look a lot alike: They’re both composed of entries arranged alphabetically by author, for example, and they include the same basic information. The difference lies not so much in how they look or their content.

  1. Author name
  2. Title of the publication (and the title of the article if it’s a magazine or encyclopedia)
  3. Date of publication
  4. The place of a book publication
  5. The publishing company of a book
  6. The volume number of a magazine or printed encyclopedia
    the page number(s)

When it is time to document/write your Bibliography, type all of your sources into a list. Use the examples in MLA Format/samples or APA Format/samples as a template to ensure that each source is formatted correctly.

List the sources in alphabetical order using the author’s last name. If a source has more than one author, alphabetize using the first one. If an author is unknown, alphabetize that source using the title instead.

It is very important to know that there is a difference between a bibliography and a reference list. This, most students and researchers do not know. Below are. the two major differences between the two.

  • Reference list, generally, contains only sources you have cited in-text in your assignment.
  • A bibliography, generally, is a list of all the sources you have used; those cited in-text as well as those you referred to generate your ideas about the topic.

What this simply means is that a reference list contains only those authors cited in the body of your work. If you cited only three authors in your work, it then means that you will have only three references in your reference list even though you consulted other books and articles but you did not sit or quote them.

But in the bibliography, all the sources you consulted must be in your bibliography. Assuming you consulted 50 authors but ended up citing only 30, in your bibliography, you will include both the 20 you did not cite, all the 50 authors must appear in your bibliography.

What are the components of a bibliography?

A proper bibliography ought to consist of the following elements:

  • The name of the author(s)
  • The title of the piece written by the author(s).
  • The names and locations of the publishing houses or companies that released the piece to the public.
  • The date on which the academic piece was published.
  • The page and issue number of the published piece.

It is important to note that, the mode in which these components will be arranged largely depends on the type of academic piece and the referencing style which is used to compose the academic piece. For instance, a book will be cited in APA referencing style as;

‘Collins concise. New Zealand dictionary(7th ed.).(2008). London, England: Collins’

Whereas, an e-book will be cited in MLA referencing style as;

‘Tetlock, Philip E, and Dan Gardner. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. E-book ed., Crown, 2015’

Why is a Bibliography important?

A bibliography is an important aspect of an academic piece, this is so because of a number of reasons, such as;

  • It provides the full details of every source which was consulted in the academic piece.
  • It can be used as a means of directing readers to carry out further readings or research on the academic piece.
  • It helps the author(s) to avoid any form of plagiarism.
  • It adds both credibility and accuracy to the academic piece.
  • It can also aid readers in identifying both the primary and secondary sources of the research.
  • It serves as a means of commending past researchers for their different or diverse views on a particular subject matter, regardless of the field or discipline of the scholar.

What are the types of Bibliographies?

There are different types of bibliographies, however, some basic ones include;

  • Single-author Bibliography:

Simply put, a single-author bibliography, as its name implies, is a compilation of all the works carried out only by a single author, during the course of the research.

  • Selected Bibliography:

A selected bibliography is closely similar to a single-author bibliography. In a nutshell, it can be regarded as the biased compilation of particular types of sources which are cited and used during the course of an academic piece.

  • Annotated Bibliography:

An annotated bibliography can be regarded as a list of the sources as well as a brief summary of these sources which are used in particular research. The aim of this form of bibliography is to provide the readers with a brief summary and evaluation of the sources cited in a particular academic piece.

  • Analytical Bibliography:

An analytical bibliography provides a more detailed citation of the sources used in an academic piece. Such details could include the types of binding used in the work, the number of pages allocated to each piece and the forms of illustrations used in the piece.

  • Enumerative Bibliography:

An enumerative bibliography is the commonest type of bibliography which contains a brief list of all the sources cited and referred to during the compilation of an academic piece.

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How can a bibliography be structured?

Regardless of the formatting style and type of the bibliography, all of them share particular structures and similarities. Some of these include:

  • All bibliographies consist of a title which could be words or phrases like; ‘Works Cited’, ‘References’ and ‘Bibliography’.
  • Bibliographies are basically lists or compilations, hence most of them are written alphabetically, in order of the surname(s) of the author(s) or the title(s) of the cited sources.
  • Bibliographies are often double-spaced. An enumerative bibliography is often double-spaced and indented.
  • Bibliographies are often composed in the same font(s) which was used during the composition of the academic piece.

How can the alphabetical composition of a bibliography be made easier?

Manually compiling an alphabetical list of all the sources cited during the course of an academic piece can be really stressful. Similarly, if the writer fails to start keeping records of these works at the beginning of the entire write-up, it could lead to confusion and some authors who may be cited in the piece may not even get to the bibliography.

Hence, it is vital to take note of the following tips before composing a bibliography.

  • A bibliography must begin on its own fresh page and it ought to have the title ‘references’, ‘works cited’ or ‘bibliography’.
  • The referencing style used during the creation of the academic piece will also be used during the compilation of the bibliography. In order to avoid any form of error, it is important to master the referencing style and its properties before commencing both the write-up and the bibliography.
  • Start keeping a record of the works cited in the academic piece from the overall commencement of the write-up. This can be done by writing it down on a fresh page in a book which will not get lost. The internet can also help in keeping records of the sources used as well. This can be done via really helpful software programs and websites like Mendeley and Google Scholar.
  • An enumerative bibliography, which is the default bibliography that is composed at the end of an academic piece, except instructed otherwise, is often indented and double-spaced.
  • All bibliographies are composed in alphabetical order, regardless of their type. However, some can be arranged this way by the order of the last name of the authors or the title of the sources used. Hence, it is important to figure out the type of bibliography as well as the referencing style which ought to be used before commencing composition.
  • When compiling the list of works used by a single author, in an enumerative bibliography, arrange the works chronologically, that is, according to the date of publication.
  • Authors that exceed four are often shortened with the aid of ellipses(et al) during the course of the composition.

Important Note: You need not manually arrange your references in alphabetical order. There is a shortcut for doing that without wasting time you should have used for other business or academic work:

  1. Highlight the entire reference text.
  2. HOLD and PRESS Alt+A+S key. This brings out the SORT TEXT automatically.
  3. PRESS the ENTER Key or OK on the SORT TEXT Dialogue Box.

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