Work Cited Bibliography Difference

Bibliography vs Works Cited

Difference between bibliography and works cited must be clearly understood if you are to produce a good research paper. Because, bibliography and works cited are sometimes confused as words that denote the same meaning when that is not so. In other words, bibliography and work cited are two terms used in research methodology which are to be understood with a difference. Usually, a research paper needs to have one list that contains the sources you have used. However, sometimes you may have to use a page for the works you have actually cited and also a list of all the sources you have cited, including even the ones you have not cited but have just read. It all depends on the guidelines you are given. However, you should first know the difference between bibliography and works cited.

What is a Bibliography?

Bibliography is the list of books referred by the writer of the thesis or dissertation or the researcher in writing the thesis. He might have referred to various books and journals to improve his knowledge about the topic of research. He might have even quoted from the books he referred in his thesis. Hence, bibliography is the listing of all the sources that he referred. These sources include journals, books, online websites, and the like. These sources included in the bibliography are a combination of the ones he actually cited or paraphrased in the text or just consulted without citing or paraphrasing in the text. The style in which you include the source depends on the style you are following throughout your research paper. For example, if your research paper is in MLA format then the bibliography should also follow the same format. Bibliography should also be organized alphabetically. The following is an example for bibliography following APA style.

This is an example for MLA style.

What is Works Cited?

On the other hand, works cited is an alphabetical list of the works cited in the thesis. It is interesting to note that works cited is a term used only in the case of the MLA or the Modern Language Association style of research paper writing. It is applicable in the case of research papers or dissertations that were written in the MLA style. If you take APA format (American Psychological Associate format), you will find the equivalent to work cited in that is known as ‘References’ or ‘Reference List.’ Here is the format you have to follow when you are arranging the works cited.

Surname of the author, first name. Name of the book (underlined). Place of publication: Name of the publisher, year of publication.

What is the difference between Bibliography and Works Cited?

It is important to know that you should put the books in alphabetical order while writing both the bibliography and works cited. It is very important to follow this rule. It is often considered a standard rule by the experts of research study. Both of them can be included towards the end of the thesis.

• One of the major differences between bibliography and works cited is that, in bibliography, you mention all the books and journals that you have referred while writing the thesis. On the other hand, in the case of works cited you mention ONLY the books and other sources of information that you cited in your dissertation or thesis.

• Works cited is the name used for the reference list that comes for MLA style. The format in which the resources are cited in works cited is as follows:

Surname of the author, first name. Name of the book (underlined). Place of publication: Name of the publisher, year of publication.

• The bibliography also has a format. However, that format depends on the format you are following when you are writing the research paper. If you are following MLA style, bibliography is also according to the MLA format.

These are the differences between bibliography and works cited. Bibliography and works cited are very important parts in a thesis or a research paper. You should include one or the other according to the instructions you get. However, make sure that you include one. Examiners look at your bibliography or work cited. Not having one of them can harm your grade. Be very careful in compiling that list.

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Filed Under: EducationTagged With: Bibliography, bibliography and works cited, bibliography definition, citation, MLA style of research paper, Modern Language Association style of research paper writing, modern research paper writing, research paper, research report, Thesis, Works Cited, works cited and bibliography, works cited definition

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, and can aid the student in finding information if they decide to return to a certain source in the future. Learning the importance of citing sources is something any and every student should learn wholeheartedly and always embrace 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 – and can get very confusing. This certainly applies to a writing assignment requiring a student to cite the sources they have used, referred to or encountered in compiling information and writing an essay or 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, which are mostly found at the end of a book or published an academic article, are a list of the books or other articles 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 brief summary of each work’s contents and explain how it was relevant in writing about the subject of the paper. A bibliography is an ideal starting point for the student looking to conduct research on a specific topic or range of topics. However, some professors may require their students to make a list of all the sources that informed the student writing the paper – those that may have 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 they used in the writing and completing their assignment – whether they used 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 should have “Works Cited” as a centered heading. In many cases, one’s professor may 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! In the event, a student is not sure which exactly their professor prefers – works cited, bibliography or an annotated bibliography – that student should talk with their professor; rather than risk getting a low grade, it is best they inquire early on in getting an assignment.


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