How to format an academic paper

3. Bibliography/Works Cited


A bibliography is part of standard academic work. If a paper is only two pages long, and refers to only one or two books, and the bibliographic details have already been given for those books, then the bibliography is not crucial. But otherwise, you should give full bibliographic details for all the sources you refer to. You need to be attentive to the details.

Sources are listed alphabetically by author’s last name first, and to help the authors’ names stand out, and for specific sources to be easy to find, the bibliography uses a different paragraph format than the main body of the paper. The first line of each entry is flush left, and all other lines in that entry are indented ½ inch (in the Word paragraph format settings, this is called “hanging”). See also This makes it easy to find the last name of the authors. Here are examples for a book, a chapter within an edited book or encyclopedia, a magazine article, and an internet resource:

Bird, Michael F. Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission, and His Message. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

Evans, Craig A. “Sorting Out the Synoptic Problem.” In Reading the Gospels Today, edited by Stanley E. Porter, 1-26. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.

Gathercole, Simon. “What Did Paul Really Mean?” Christianity Today 52 (Aug. 10, 2007): 13-18.

Stedman, Ray C. “False Forces.” Peninsula Bible Church. n.d.[1]

The title and subtitle of a book should always be italicized. The title is not always the same as what’s on the cover. (The marketing department will sometimes play around with capitalization, or add slogans to the title of the book.) For the official title of the book, see the copyright page (the reverse side of the title page), which often has the Library of Congress data. If the book is part of a series (as many commentaries are), you’ll see the name of the series. In bibliographic data, the series title is not italicized.

[1] Include the full path (not just the domain name) of each internet article you use. That helps your readers find good information and investigate where bad information is coming from. “n.d.” stands for “no date”; n.p. for no page numbers. (In the printout of a normal web page, page numbers will depend on your browser settings. However, for a particularly long web page, it can be helpful to include the page number of the quote followed by the total number of pages, such as “page 12 of 27.” This lets the reader know it’s about 44 percent of the way through.) If the document is available as a PDF file, give its internet address and give page numbers.