Difference Between Reference and Bibliography

Main Difference – Reference vs Bibliography 

Reference and bibliography both refer to a list of citations at the end of a work. Although these two terms are used interchangeably by most people, there is a distinct difference between reference and bibliography. The main difference between reference and bibliography is that reference lists all the work you have cited or quoted in the paper whereas the bibliography may contain additional readings that may not be cited in the work.

Reference and Bibliography

As mentioned above, reference is a list of work you have cited in your work. A bibliography also lists the works you have cited in your work, but it may also additional books and articles you have read to find information, but not cited in your work.

However, since the two words are used interchangeably in most cases, the distinction between the words is not very much noticed. It is also important to notice that APA style does not identify a term called bibliography. According to this style, each reference cited in the work should appear in the reference list, and each reference in the reference list must be cited in the work.

Now that we know the difference between reference and bibliography, let us look at how a reference/bibliography should be written. Each entry in a reference list or bibliography must be in a specific order. This order is determined by the format you are using. APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, are some of the most popular referencing guides. The references must also be arranged in alphabetical order.Difference Between Reference and Bibliography

The following section indicates how the same book has been referenced according to different style guides.


Kachru, B., Kachru, Y., & Nelson, C. (2009). The handbook of world Englishes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.


Kachru, Braj B, Yamuna Kachru, and Cecil L Nelson. The Handbook Of World Englishes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2009. Print.


Kachru, Braj B, Yamuna Kachru, and Cecil L Nelson. 2009. The Handbook Of World Englishes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.


Kachru, B., Kachru, Y. and Nelson, C. (2009). The handbook of world Englishes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

It is important to keep in mind that if you quote or paraphrase another author’s ideas without referencing, it is considered as plagiarism, which is a serious offense.

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