Citation Help Research Guide

Access to resources to assist with citation and writing

Librarian's Tip: How to Read a Reference List

* * * This page contains selected tips to read published reference lists to locate those information sources to enhance your own research.  * * *

Great! You found an article, website, or book that is "perfect" for your project. It has a works cited or references list that you want to use to expand your own research. But you need to know if each item is an article, book or website to begin finding each cited resource again. 

A citation is an author's reference to a specific resource that gives enough information for the reader to identify it and to find it again.  

APA References & MLA Works Cited lists include key identifiers:  Author, Date, Title & Source*.


*To save time, focus on reading each citation's SOURCE information to IDENTIFY the publication format. Then, you can search to find that citation in databases or online.



Electronic or Online Article -- Source info article title, journal title, volume (issue) and the page numbers plus Retrieved from https://www.XXXXX or a doi:1234example5678912

Print Article (physical copy) --  Source info article title, journal title, volume (issue) and the page numbers.


Electronic Book -- Source info the place of publication and a publisher name - plus Retrieved from https://www.XXXXX or a doi:1234example5678910

Print Book (physical copy) -- Source info the place of publication and a publisher name.

*Chapter within a Book:  the main clue this is a chapter (not entire book) citation is the word "In" plus the book's information added after the chapter's author & title.


Source info Retrieved from https://www.XXXXX or may have a doi:1234abc5678910


Other types of publications, such as videos, audios, working papers, cases, dissertations, or government documents should contain the four key elements of a citation plus other identifying information to enable the reader to find the information sources used by the original author(s). 


  • Are you writing your own bibliography? See the other tabs (above) for APA or MLA tips or use Citation Tools tab for user-friendly options.


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