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How to write your reference section

Writing a bibliography is one of the most time-consuming parts of the writing process, as students need to provide a list of the sources they’ve used to generate their document, that is also compliant with their university citation style.

In this blog post, we provide a definition of the reference section as well as a list of suggestions to help students structure a clear bibliography.

What is a reference section?

A reference section is a list of sources that individuals used to write an academic paper, essay, book or critique. This section is usually placed at the end of academic papers and includes references to online and print works as well as images, videos and audios.

In addition, this section helps the reader to access all the sources that have cited in the document, so they can prove the arguments’ validity and the evidence on which they are based.

Why is referencing important?

References permit students to avoid plagiarism, acknowledge the ideas of an author in personal documents, respect the intellectual property of the researcher and provide evidence to support their statements.

Tips to write a reference section

In order to write a clear and well-structured bibliography, learners should:

  • Be accurate – The information provided in the reference section must be accurate and sufficient to easily retrieve the paper. Students should include basic information such as the author’s names and the volume publication years, as well as specific data such as a book edition or a journal article’s issue number.
  • Follow the university style guide – Each institution tend to have their own referencing style. So, it’s fundamental students download their university’s style guide to format their sources in a correct way.
  • Select qualitative resources – Quality is better than quantity. On the Internet, students can find thousands of sources related to a specific topic. However, not all of them are reliable; so, learners should select quality content instead of creating a list of inappropriate references.
  • Reference as they write their paper – When writing a document, it’s very easy to forget to put a source in the bibliography. Therefore, building the reference section while you are writing the essay could be a solution to avoid this problem.

In conclusion, the bibliography is a fundamental section of academic papers. Therefore, students should be attentive and allocate enough time to build a clear and well-structured reference section.


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