Course Icon

Writing the Research Paper

Unit VII: Formatting your Report and Bibliography

SO Icon


Unit VII: Formatting your Report and Bibliography

I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the Kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical.

Gilbert and Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance, Act I

Introductory Remarks

Context setting information

Points for this Unit

To cite or not to cite?

Review the discussion on citations from the Writing for the College-bound Unit 10 discussion on researching citations. In general, your citation rules are

You may chose from three types of footnoting methods, depending on the publication for which you are writing or the style dictated by your discipline or teacher.

In line citations are usually abbreviated versions of the bibliographic entry for a work, with the specific information, such as page number, for the current reference. These citations are very common in academic journals, especially scientific ones.

Jupiter's magnetosphere shows a higher than expected component of ionized particles (Ingersoll, 1976, p.180).

Footnotes and endnotes are numbered in order of appearance with a superscript at the end of the material cited. Counting may start over with each page or may be continuous for a chapter of a book. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page on which the citation occurs, usually in a slightly smaller font than the main text. Endnotes appear at the end of the chapter, or collected together by chapter at the end of the work.

The information from Voyager 2 was startling. Jupiter's magnetosphere shows a higher than expected component of ionized particles1. Theories vary as to the source of these particles, but the most common interpretation is that they are expelled from Io's core through volcanic activity2.


1 Ingersoll, "The Meteorology of Jupiter", Scientific American, March 1976, p. 180.

2 Ingersoll, op. cit. p. 183

The first appearance of a footnote citation contains the entire set of information: author, title of work, article or series information, date of publication, place of publication in the case of books, and page number. The only difference between this and the bibliography citation is the page number information.

The second and subsequent citations from a given work may refer to the work by an abbreviation. The most common ones are

The Formal Bibliography

A formal bibliography contains an alphabetical list by author of all the works you used in your research. It may include works from which you did not directly cite and so have no footnotes or endnotes, but it must include every work for which you have a citation in your notes. Below is the bibliographic entry for the citations given above. Note that the magazine citation gives the whole span of pages covered by the article in question, while the notes give the specific page on which the information cited appears.

Ingersoll, A, "The Meteorology of Jupiter," Scientific American, March 1976, pp. 172-190.

The format for the bibliographic entry varies depending on the type of work. Films, recordings and other audiovisual media have one format; books which are part of a series have a slightly different format from solitary books; articles which appear in books or magazines have yet a different format, and, as we have seen, so do website pages. Regardless of the format, the principle point of the citation is to allow the reader to find the material and judge for himself whether you have correctly interpreted it.

Assignment for this Unit

  1. State which format you will use for footnote and bibliographic citations. For this assignment, you may use either footnotes or endnotes, depending on which you feel most comfortable working with in your word processor, but you may not use inline citations.
  2. Look up the format for your citation at the Purdue Online Writing Lab MLA Formatting and Style Guide page. You may use the citation generator to create your citation in the correct format, but be sure to double-check the output! There are so many variations that the generator may not give you the precise format you need.
  3. Revisit your draft and write the footnote or endnote entry in proper format for each citation.
  4. Create your formal bibliography. Be sure that you follow the appropriate format for each type of media you cite.
  5. Submit your formal bibliography. [Your actual notes will appear in your final draft; you do not need to submit these.]

Enter your response directly into the Scholars Online Writing the Research Paper Moodle forum for this unit. Review the submissions from your fellow students and offer constructive criticism to help them correctly present their bibliographic formats.