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Create a Reference List

What is a reference list?

A reference list contains all of the materials (print, digital, text, images) that you have used in creating your paper or project. You do not have to include everything you have read, just those resources from which you have specifically quoted or paraphrased (rewritten in your own words).

There are established formats that need to be followed for a reference list (ex. MLA, APA). Be sure to ask your teacher which style you should use.


Behind every article, video, song or image, there is a creator! It’s all about respect. Using someone else’s work (text, images, sound, video) without giving them credit is plagiarism. This is a serious offense in academic writing.

Keep a running bibliography

As you consult various resources, make sure to keep detailed notes. Include as much of the following information as possible:

  • type of resource (book, magazine, article, ebook, web page)
  • title
  • author
  • where the work was published
  • name of publisher
  • copyright date
  • URL & access date (for online materials)


If you want to use the exact words in your paper or project, be sure to make note of the page numbers or spot in the article.

Remember, it’s a good idea to read at least 3 sources about your topic to be sure that the information you are getting is true.

Select the resources that you have actually used in your work

What’s the difference between a bibliography and reference list, you ask? Your reference list includes only the resources that you have referenced in your work.

So, for your final reference list, choose the…

  • items that you have quoted;
  • items you have paraphrased (rewritten in your own words);
  • media (images, videos, sound) you have used.

Make a final reference list

Be sure you know in which style you need to list your references (MLA, APA or other). Once that’s clear, use the appropriate style guide and remember to be consistent.

There are also some good online tools that can help you format your bibliography, a couple of examples:


You supply the information; the tool formats it according to the style you choose. Then, you simply copy and paste the formatted reference into your final list.

Here are some basic formatting tips to keep in mind as you finalize your reference list:

  • Use a new page for your reference list.
  • Centre the words Reference List at the top of the page.
  • List your references in alphabetical order by author’s last name.


Use one of the checklists below to be sure that you have followed all of the rules for creating a reference list:

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