Ten Common Referencing and Bibliography Errors


If you are losing marks for bibliography, you might find this list helpful.


1. References with no page numbers. If a piece of information comes from a specific page in a book or article, give the page, either in a footnote or within an in-text reference.


2. Texts in the bibliography which were not referred to in the essay. All texts that you referred to in your essay should be in the bibliography and nothing else. You should not refer to works that you looked at for writing your essay but which you did not actually refer to Ė encyclopaedias, guides for how to structure an essay, etc. Presumably, you did not refer to them because no idea or information from these works appeared in your essay.


3. Putting book titles within in-text references. An in-text reference has the authorís surname, the year of publication and the page number in brackets, or else just the year and page number, if it is transparent from the main text who the author is. Do not put book titles in place of the authorís surname. See here for detailed guidance.


4. Separating out books, journals and web pages in the bibliography. The bibliography should list the texts in alphabetical order of the authorís surname. You should not have one section for books, another for journals, a third for web pages. There should be no separate sections.


5. For book entries in the bibliography, omitting the publisher or place of publication. For any book in your bibliography, you must identify the publisher in the bibliographic entry, e.g. Oxford University Press, and the place of publication, e.g. Oxford.


6. Not putting the right things in italics. The title of a book always needs to be in italics. The title of a journal should also always be in italics. The title of an article in a journal is not in italics. (Normally marks are not lost for this though.)


7. No bibliography, but all the information in the footnotes. Some journals allow for this, but the university where I teach requires a bibliography, no matter how much information is in the footnotes.


8. Giving full web addresses for material available in print. If a text is available in both print and online, and the page numbers of the printed version are given online, please do not give the whole web address, either when referencing or in the bibliography. You can just write as if you found a hardcopy of the text. Some students present information like what is below, in footnotes, within in-text references or in the bibliography:




I am not sure if this is always, strictly speaking, an error, but it is hard on the eye and there is usually a better way of doing things.


9. For internet sources, giving only some of the relevant information available. Some internet sources provide the information about who the author is and when the material was placed online, e.g. entries from The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy do this. If you can give this information, you should. If you cannot, look for guidance online on how best to do the entry.


10. In the bibliography, not listing the texts in alphabetical order of the authorís surname.