Step By Step Guide: How to Avoid Artful Mistakes in Bibliography

Writing a bibliography may seem more stressful than your actual work, but it need not be. There are so many common mistakes made by students that can be easily avoided with a little guidance. If you are able to identify these mistakes early on, you might actually enjoy drawing up your next bibliography. A bibliography is simply a list of all the sources you used to complete your essay. When we take facts which has not been originally stated by ourselves, we must give reference to the sources. It’s as simple as that, but let’s get into some of the mistakes you can avoid.

Inconsistent Formatting

Before you start your list of references, you want to figure out which style you are going to use. This will determine the format, which needs to be consistent throughout your bibliography. Are you going for APA or MLA style? Look at a sample mla annotated bibliography or an apa one, to give you a clear idea of how you are going to stick to the format. You do not want to be losing marks, because of inconsistent formatting, so pay careful attention to this one. I suggest you familiarize yourself on how to do a bibliography in mla format as well as apa format before you start.

Incomplete reading

If you are going to include a source into your writing and want to have an opinion about it, you are going to have to make sure that you read the entire piece. You cannot give a proper annotation if you just read a few lines of your source document or article. There is a possibility that the original author might swing the entire article another way and if you do not read to completion, you might miss it. Take notes during your reading to make it easier to reference later.

Not checking updates

When you cite sources, you need to stay up to date with any developments in your facts. When submitting your essay or thesis, you want to include information that is relevant. This is why it is important to not use information that is outdated. If you add a reference to outdated information, you might lose marks for not including the most recent developments.

Not using listed references

Let’s say you found a great piece of information related to your essay or thesis and decide to cite it in your bibliography, but fail to use it in your work. This can make your written work come across as unpolished. Be sure to include information from all cited sources to avoid this mistake. There must be a reason why you want to include it in your bibliography, so you are going to have to find a way to discuss it in your work. If you do not want to do that, simply remove it from your references.

No order

It is usually required to list your references in alphabetical order. You are just going to have to check what the latest requirements are for the style you are using. If it is alphabetical order, one would usually use the author’s surname to determine the listing. This mistake is easily avoidable and there are many tools out there to help you quickly sort out the structure of your bibliography. You want your work to come across as professional and thought through, so go the extra mile and sort your references in some kind of required order.


We all have to learn from our mistakes and this is a good guide to start with. You have put so much work into your writing and should not let something like a bibliography take anything away from that. Always avoid rushing when you want good results. Look at as many examples as you can before you submit your work. Make sure these samples are up to date and include all the recent requirements.

Mark Campbell is a content manager and guest post writer. He works at the His hobby is travelling,  blogging and music. His life motto is “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”