The Difference Between Works Cited and Bibliography

The citation of sources prevents plagiarism, helps a professor fact-check an essay or paper for accuracy. It can aid the student in finding information if they decide to return to a particular source in the future.

Most everything written or published in the higher academy is cited. The citation of sources prevents plagiarism, helps a professor fact-check an essay or paper for accuracy. It can aid the student in finding information if they decide to return to a particular source in the future. Learning the importance of citing sources is something any and every student should learn wholeheartedly. And it always embraces because, at the college or university level, it is a fact of life.

However, with the overwhelming bombardment of information and terminology in higher education, it can be a challenge doing things the correct way. Students get very confusing sometimes. It certainly applies to a writing assignment requiring a student to cite the sources they have used, referred to, or encountered in compiling information for the research paper. A Works Cited page and Bibliography are perfect examples. The two are often used interchangeably, mean close to the same thing, yet have entirely different purposes, meanings, and implications.

The Bibliography

Bibliographies are mostly found at the end of a book or published an academic article. Basically, a bibliography is a list of the books or other materials referred to in a scholarly work – and are not merely a simple paper, essay or research paper written by an undergraduate. Usually printed as an appendix, bibliographies provide an overview of what has been published on a topic. Some bibliographies are annotated, meaning they include a summary of each work’s contents. They serve to explain how these resources were relevant in writing about the paper subject. A bibliography is an ideal starting point for the student looking to research a specific topic or range of topics. However, some professors require students to make a list of all the sources that they used writing the paper. Those that lead the student to other, more recent sources. In this case, a bibliography may be best.

The Works Cited

The Works Cited, often referred to as the “Works Cited Page,” is a separate page at the end of a student’s essay or research paper. It lists the sources which creators used in writing and completing their assignment. This page includes information in direct quotes, rephrased summaries, the incorporation of data and general information, like statistics. Whenever a student borrows legitimate information from any reputable source (anything that is not common knowledge: “the capital of Thailand is Bangkok”), that information needs to be cited in MLA style. This list should be alphabetized by authors’ last names or by editors’ or translators’ names. And it should have “Works Cited” as a centered heading. In many cases, professors read the student’s Works Cited page first to get a feel for the kind of effort put into the assignment.

Student, keep in mind! If you are not sure what exactly your professor prefers – works cited, bibliography or an annotated bibliography – task with them rather than risk getting a low grade. It is best they inquire early on in getting an assignment.

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