How to Compile a Reference List


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How to Compile a Reference List

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It is important to know how to present a list of references or bibliography appropriately at the end of a piece of academic written work such as an essay since it is something that you will be expected to do regularly on your course.

Different writers may use different styles of referencing, so it is important to decide which style you will use, and then use it consistently. Your department will also recommend a particular style of referencing that they prefer you to use. It can take a little time to learn to remember all the details that are used for each possible type of source reference, but it is always worth checking again and again to make sure you have presented everything in the correct way. Badly presented references will reflect negatively on you as a writer and researcher.


1. To understand the rules of APA Format and apply the APA style for citation and reference in academic writing.

2. To compile correct reference list  

Activity 1: What do you already know about reference lists?

In this activity you are going to reflect on what you already know about reference lists.


Consider these statements about reference lists and decide if each is true or false. Select the appropriate button and then read the feedback.

A reference list should include a list of the works and authors referred to in the essay, together with full details of each source.

No sources should be included in a reference list that have not already been mentioned in the body of your written text.

A reference list can be arranged alphabetically by author surname.

References can be arranged in numerical order with each in-text reference being assigned a corresponding number with its bibliographic entry in the end reference list.

Reference lists and bibliographies are the same.

Activity 2: Identifying source types

There are three main source types in print form that you are likely to refer to in your writing: these are books, chapters in books, and journal articles. In this activity you are going to practise identifying the different bibliographic conventions associated with each of these. The style used in these examples is known as the APA style based on the 'Harvard referencing system', and is usually an acceptable format in most non-specialist contexts.

In many subject areas, the internet is an increasingly valuable source of reference material. Although the conventions used for referencing sources from the internet are not firmly established yet, you will need to include the details of any internet sources that you have referred to on your list of references. When referencing a website there are two particular details that you need to remember to note: • the full web address for your source • the date you accessed the information

APA guidelines also point out that specific documents should be referred to rather than home or menu pages, and that the website addresses provided should work! There are, of course, many types of material available on the internet and this can cause some confusion when writing individual electronic references for electronic sources.


Study each set of bibliographic details and decide what kind of source it refers to. Select the appropriate option from each dropdown list and then read the feedback.

Criswell, E. (1989) The Design of Computer-based Instruction. London: Macmillan.

Hardy, V. (1992) 'Introducing computer-mediated communications (CMC) into participative management education: the impact on the tutor's role'. Educational and Training Technology International 29(4): 325-331.

Jessel, J. (1997) 'Children writing words and building thoughts. Does the word processor really help?' In Somekh, B. & Davis, N. (eds) Using Information Technology Effectively in Teaching and Learning. London: Routledge.  

Hardy, V. (1992) 'Introducing computer-mediated communications into participative management education: the impact on the tutor's role'; [Electronic version]. Educational and Training Technology International 29(4): 325-331.

Caulfield, T., Daar, A. and Upshur, R. (3 January 2003) 'DNA databanks and consent: a suggested policy option involving an authorisation model'. BMC Medical Ethics 4(1). Retrieved 12 December 2013 from

Clenton, C. (n.d.). 'Academic writing: towards an integrated approach'. Retrieved 10 December 2010 from University of Sussex Language Institute Website: 

Additional Resources

The MHRA system of referencing is preferred by many disciplines in the Humanities. An MHRA style guide can be found at this weblink: MHRA Style Guide

Activity 3: Compiling a reference list

In this activity you are going to practice identifying and then correcting problems in a range of bibliographic references. The referencing system for this activity is the widely used ‘APA’ style of referencing.


Identify the mistakes in each of these bibliographic entries and write the correct version in the text area provided. The conventions used should follow the APA system of referencing. Then read the feedback.

Reference for a book in print:

Finney j. 1970. Time and again. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Reference for an e-book from an e-reader:

Eggers, D. (2008). The circle [Kindle Version].Eggers, D. (2008). The circle [Kindle Version].  

Reference for a journal article in print:

Clark, T. and L.L. Knowles, (2003) ‘Global myopia: Globalisation theory in international business.’ Journal of International Management, 9(4): 361-372.

Reference for a journal article found online:

Jameson, J. (2013). E-Leadership in higher education: The fifth “age” of educational technology research. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(6), 889-915.

Additional Resources

Please find more about APA on: APA Format

Activity 4: Putting references in the correct order

Sources in a reference list should be ordered alphabetically by author surname. In this activity, you are going to take a set of references, some of which you corrected in the previous activity, and put them into the appropriate order for a reference list.


Organise these references alphabetically by writing the number into the box. Then check your answers and read the feedback.

See more on: General APA Guidelines

Reorder the following references:

1. Jameson, J. (2013). E-Leadership in higher education: The fifth “age” of educational technology research. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(6), 889-915. DOI: 10.1111/bjet.12103

2. Halliday, M. A. K. 2000. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

3. Teen posed as doctor at West Palm Beach hospital: police. (2015, January 16). Retrieved from

4. Danes. F. 1974. Functional sentence perspective and the organization of the text. In F. Danes (Ed.), Papers in Functional Sentence Perspective. Prague: Academia.

5. Gass, S. and Selinker, L. (2001) Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

6. Simmons, B. (2015, January 9). The tale of two Flaccos. Retrieved from  

Additional Resources

Please see more on: APA 6th edition

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