Creating a Working Bibliography

A working bibliography is a detailed list of books, Web sites, articles, and other sources relevant to your research. A working bibliography can keep you organized while you’re gathering and evaluating your sources. Many writers find it easiest to use 3 x 5 index cards for bibliographic information from individual sources. You’ll need to gather specific information for each type of source you use.

Planning your bibliography:
What information do you need?


  • Library call number
  • Author’s full name (last name then first name)
  • Title and subtitle (if included)
  • Publication information: place, publisher, year
  • Page number of relevant quote(s)
  • Your notes about source (your opinion/impression: Lots of information? Only a few good facts? Really good list of sources? Use in your introduction, or just for backup details?)


  • Author’s full name (last name then first name)
  • “Title of article” (in quotes), then Name of publication (italics/underlined)
  • Volume number and issue number, if needed
  • Date of issue
  • Page numbers of article
  • Your notes about source

Web sites and Internet resources

  • Author’s full name (if available; not all Web sites provide author information)
  • Editor’s full name (if available)
  • Title of Web page (specific post, page, or article)
  • Name of database, Web site, newsgroup, or mailing list
  • Date the source was created or updated
  • Date you accessed the source
  • Your notes about source


  • Name of the person you interviewed or the setting you observed
  • Descriptive title, such as “Interview with Ellen Page”
  • Date you conducted the interview or observation
  • Any additional impressions about the interview or observation


You can also use notebook paper instead of index cards, but what’s nice about index cards is that you can remove the ones you don’t end up using from your stack. Of course it’s also possible to create a computer spreadsheet to record your bibliographic information and notes.

Now that we have discussed the elements needed for our research plan, we will talk about creating a timeline.