Creating a Bibliography: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Laurie Smith
A biblio-what? A bibliography! This useful tool is important as you become a writer and begin composing research reports and other academic writing. In this lesson, you'll learn all about bibliographies, what they are, why you need to write one, and how to create an amazing one!

What Is a Bibliography?

So, you have to write a bibliography. Now what? A bibliography is a descriptive list of sources used in preparing written work. In fact, the word comes from ancient Greek: biblion, meaning 'book,' and -graphia, meaning 'to write.' This tool is important because it identifies publication information about the sources used, so that your readers know where that information originally came from.

Why You Need One

You need to write a bibliography every time you use someone else's work in your writing. This is called citing, or giving credit to, a source. It's important because in order to use information that someone else created, you need to give them credit to avoid any legal or academic consequences. Another reason why it's so important is so that you don't commit plagiarism, which is the act of taking someone else's words and using them as your own. Plagiarism is a big deal and can lead to major consequences. So, always cite your sources!

Types of Citation

There are many ways to write a bibliography depending on what you're writing about. The Modern Language Association, or MLA, is used mostly for writing in humanities. Humanities are subjects such as literature, languages, history, and art. Another style is the American Psychological Association, or APA, format. This is used mainly for writing in social sciences like education, law, science, and psychology. There's also the Chicago style, which is used less often for both subjects. It's the oldest and most detailed manual. This lesson will focus on MLA formatting.

Rules to Remember

Here are some important tips to remember when writing a bibliography:

  • All bibliography entries follow a pattern based on the type of source being used
  • Make sure your sources are in alphabetical order by first word
  • Double space between entries
  • Indent all lines 5 spaces, except the first line
  • If a source doesn't have an author, use the title in place of the author's name
  • Format the author's name like this: Last name, First name


Let's first look at books, starting with fiction & non-fiction books:

Here's our pattern:

  • Author. Title of Book. Publisher, Copyright date.

Here's an example:

  • Yolen, Jane. The Encounter. Harcourt, 1996.

Encyclopedias (print)

Here's our pattern:

  • ''Article Title.'' Name of Encyclopedia. Edition, Copyright date.

Here's an example:

  • ''Zebra''. World Book Encyclopedia. 3rd ed., 1996.


Now, let's look at how to cite things from magazines (both online and in print):

Magazine Article (Online)

Here's our pattern:

  • Author. ''Title of Article.'' Journal Name, Date article was published, URL. Access date.

And here's our example:

  • McGrath, Brian. ''Breaking Barriers in Toys.'' Time For Kids, 21 Oct. 2016, Accessed 31 Nov. 2016.

Magazine Article (Print)

Here's our pattern:

    • Author. ''Title of Article.'' Name of Magazine. Date (day month year), Pages.

And here's our example:

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