Writing References And Bibliography Format

The Bibliography or List of References appears after the Body of the Document.  It is a complete listing of all cited resources used to create your document.  Even though Journal Model authors may have individual Reference sections for each article, this complete Reference list of all citations must appear at the end of the entire manuscript.

Reference lists are formatted according to the instructions provided by the most recent edition of your chosen style manual.  In some cases, style manuals do not contain up-to-date instructions on documentation of electronic publications (i.e., E-mail, software, electronic journals, etc.), government documents, or legal documents.  When the department’s style manual fails to provide sufficient instructions regarding bibliographic documentation, it is suggested that the student consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) or a style manual associated with their discipline.  Specialized style manuals for citing legal material and electronic information are available in the Newton Gresham Library.


NOTE:  The example List of References below is based on the APA Style Manual (American Psychological Association). 


  • Includes a complete listing of all resources cited in the document.
  • Appropriately formatted according to chosen style guide.  Should be double-spaced throughout with no extra spacing unless chosen style guide dictates otherwise.

How to Write References


 Why Cite References?

Citing bibliographical references means:
CITING acknowledging within your text the document from which you have obtained information.
BIBLIOGRAPHY is the list of publications you consulted.
REFERENCE is the detailed description of the document from which you have obtained the information.

Honest and professional citation of references provides part of the framework for sound written research:

  • because you must acknowledge the sources you have used to establish your arguments and criticisms;

  • the references enable other people to identify and trace the sources you have used for your ideas;

  • and it helps avoid charges of plagiarism because it makes clear when you are using someone else's ideas and words.

 There are two principal components to citing references

  • the way you acknowledge, cite the source in your text
  • the way you list your sources at the end of your work to enable identification, i.e. the bibliography (or reference list )

There are a variety of systems for bibliographies. Once you have selected a system it is important that you stick to it consistently.

Most subjects and Faculties within the University have a preferred system. Please see the below for details. If your subject or Faculty does not appear in the list on this page, please contact your tutor for advice.

Standard Styles

QEC, the University of Stirling's Quality Enhancement Committee approved the adoption of standard styles for subjects. The style for each subject is listed below.


You can use RefWorks, the University of Stirling supported referencing software, to help you create bibliographies and with Write-N-Cite a RefWorks tool, insert citations into your essay as you write!

See our RefWorks and Write-N-Cite guide. Or visit RefWorks' own guide.


Below are the different styles subjects have chosen with links to further information and example bibliographies and in-text citation guidelines.


The QEC approved Recommendation for Standard styles was as follows:

Recommendations (approved)

10. QEC is invited to:

Approve the adoption of standard styles for all subjects within all Faculties. We recognise that in some Faculties there are a number of disparate subjects (e.g., Faculty of Arts and Humanities includes law which has very different referencing needs from the rest of the Faculty) so we do not suggest limiting the number of standard styles within a Faculty. Our primary aim is to make things less complex for the students. RefWorks offers many different styles to choose from and we are not proposing to restrict subjects in their choice, only that a Faculty or subject, choose from the list offered by RefWorks. The list can be found here: http://www.refworks.com/content/products/output_style.asp (this includes such styles as APA 6th edition; Chicago 16th edition; Harvard British Standard 2010; MLA and Vancouver).


Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius meaning a kidnapper, literary thief) is a very serious offence and at University of Stirling is considered to be Academic Misconduct. In summary: you must not represent the ideas of other people as your own - this applies to published works and the work of other students.

The University of Stirling's Guide to to plagiarism pages are designed to help you to understand more fully what plagiarism is and how you can develop practices to avoid it.

You may also find useful the tutorial "Avoiding Plagiarism" (designed by University of Leicester) about how to understand, and avoid plagiarism.

The following points are based on Stirling University's Policy on Plagiarism:

  • It is not sufficient merely to list a source in an appended bibliography, or in the body of an assignment to express a general indebtedness. To avoid a charge of plagiarism, all debts must be specifically, precisely and accurately referenced in accordance with good academic practice. 

  • When a source is directly quoted word-for-word, the passage quoted should be placed within quotation marks or indented and the source accurately referenced, in parenthesis, in a footnote, or in an endnote, according to a recognised system. There must be no ambiguity about where the quotation ends or begins. 

  • The source of any data cited (e.g. figures, tables, charts) should be made explicit. 

  • When ideas, or an argument, are reproduced from a source in a general or paraphrased way, the source must be acknowledged. 

Remember that these rules apply to all the different sources of information you have used, for example: a lecture or tutorial, books, journal articles, web sites, newspapers, a television programme, a friend's essay.

If you think about where you found your information and reference your work properly, then accidental plagiarism can be avoided.

Journal Title Abbreviations

In the examples in this guide the journal titles used have been given in full, however in many sources and databases the journal title is given in an abbreviated form, and it can be difficult to know what it means.

Fortunately journal title abbreviations are standardised. There are a number of useful sources you can use to check the standard abbreviation:

Legal Citations

Please see our OSCOLA Introduction and OSCOLA Help pages.‌


RefWorks has information about working with footnotes and endnotes. It is essential to check the formatting of your bibliography, to ensure that it meets the requirements of the style used by your Faculty. If you are a History students and require a 'short reference', titles can be manually shortened in RefWorks.

Further Information

The following sources provide additional information on writing references and may be helpful if you are uncertain about how to treat a particular publication type or style.  However, please be aware that there is no definitive standard for all referencing guidance and these sources may vary with RefWorks bibliography and citation styles.

There are a variety of accepted systems for bibliographies and you can check these by consulting books about writing essays and theses in the Education section of the Library. At Stirling, these books are located at K 8.135, at the Highland and Western Isles campuses these books are located at LB 2369. For example:

ACHTERT, W.S. and GIBALDI, J., 1985. The MLA style manual. New York: Modern Language Association of America.

BECKER, H.S., 2007. Writing for social scientists: how to start and finish your thesis, book or article. 2nd edn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

BRITISH STANDARDS INSTITUTION, 2010. Information and documentation: guidelines for bibliographic references and citations to information resources: BS ISO 690-2010. London: ISO.

COUNCIL OF BIOLOGY EDITORS. COMMITTEE ON FORM AND STYLE, 1994. Scientific style and format: the CBE manual for authors, editors, and publishers.6th edn. Cambridge: CUP.

MODERN HUMANITIES RESEARCH ASSOCIATION, 2008. MHRA style guide: a handbook for authors, editors, and writers of theses. 2nd edn. London: Modern Humanities Research Association.

NEVILLE, C., 2007. The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

PEARS, R. and SHIELDS, G.J., 2010. Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 8th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

TURABIAN, K.L., 2007. A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style for students and researchers. 7th edn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Referencing electronic sources

The publications above will include details on referencing types of publications and sources not covered in this guide e.g. Newspaper articles, videos, etc. Many of the web sites below cover electronic sources.

Useful Websites

There are also a number of useful websites for referencing information; many of them cover both printed and electronic formats. For example the particularly helpful:

Guide to referencing: Harvard - from the University of the West of England


APA (American Psychological Association) Formatting and Style Guide - from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University, Indiana

Create an APA Reference List - from the University of Wisconsin

Referencing@Portsmouth is an online citation tool which gives information about the APA (5th & 6th eds), OSCOLA and Vancouver styles

MLA (Modern Language Association) Formatting and Style Guide - from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University, Indiana

Audiovisual Citation: British Universities Film & Video Council Guidelines for Referencing moving images and sound this guide includes information about referencing from film, television, radio, audio such as podcasts, media clips such as YouTube and new media sources such as webcasts and webinars

The Chicago Manual of Style Quick Guide. This is an online guide to the referencing style used by students studying Religious Studies in the Division of Literature and Languages


Abbreviations/ terms used

Common abbreviations and terms used in references:


col.column (plural, cols.)
comp.compiler (plural, comps.)
ed.edition; edited by; editor (plural, eds.)
et al.et alii : Latin for 'and others'
ibid.ibidem : Latin for 'in the same place'. This word can only be used in 
the next consecutive reference in a list after an earlier reference to the same work.
For example :
1. Leggett, J. The carbon war: global warming and the end of the oil era
2nd edition. London, Penguin, 2000.
2. ibid. p. 65
3. Ledwith, S. and Manfredi, S. Balancing gender in higher education - a study of the experience of 
senior women in a 'new' UK university. European Journal of Women's Studies, 7 (1), 2000. pp. 7-33
4. ibid.
n.d.no date (of publication known)
n.p.no place (of publication known)
no.number (plural nos.) In America, the symbol # is often used
op. cit.opere citato : Latin for 'in the work cited' 
For example :
1. Brennan, A.A. Environmental decision making. In: Berry, R. J. ed. 
Environmental dilemmas: ethics and decisions. London, Chapman & Hall, 1993. pp. 1-19.
2. Leggett, J. The carbon war: global warming and the end of the oil era
2nd edition. London, Penguin, 2000. pp. 25-27
3. Brennan, A.A. op. cit. p. 45
p.page (plural pp.)
supp.supplement (plural, supps.)
Trans.translator ; translated by
vol.volume (plural, vols.)


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