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Lesson Navigation IconOnline Guidelines for Academic Research and Writing

Unit Navigation IconThe academic research process

Unit Navigation IconOrganization and project management

Unit Navigation IconLiterature research and application

Unit Navigation IconWriting an academic paper

LO Navigation IconRequirements regarding academic papers

LO Navigation IconFormal structure of papers

LO Navigation IconQuotations and references

LO Navigation IconCreating a bibliography

LO Navigation IconWriting coaching

Unit Navigation IconHow do I create a good poster?

Unit Navigation IconPresentation skills

Unit Navigation IconLearning techniques and exam preparation

Unit Navigation IconBibliography

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Creating a bibliography

References in a text are closely connected to its bibliography. All sources quoted in your paper have to be listed in the bibliography and vice versa: all references listed in the bibliography must be indicated within your text.

There are various rules and accepted standards when creating a bibliography. Their differences especially refer to: the arrangement of author names, highlighting, position of date, omission or addition of publisher, and using the comma or period when separating the information. EndNote, a database program for literature, for example, indicates close to 1000 different styles to quote literary sources, relating to (slightly) different requirements defined by journals and publishers. Anyway, literary sources have to be referenced clearly an consistently in order to be able to retrieve them.


Scientific journals have different requirements as regards quotations and references.


GIUZ recommends the «Harvard style» of referencing. ‹Link to pdf of the Western Sydney University›

General information

A bibliography comprises all the works used in your academic paper. Additionally, you can also list «further reading», not specifically used in the paper but perhaps of interest for the reader. There are some general rules when creating a bibliography:

  • Sources have to be arranged by the author's name in alphabetic order. In case there are several authors sharing the same last name, you go by the first name.
  • Last names are often highlighted (LARGE, bold, s p a c e d, italic or by indenting the following).
  • First names can be listed completely or abbreviated. However, this could make finding those sources more complicated. If an author has more than one first name you have to indicate all names.
  • In case there is certain information missing (such as author, date or place of publication), you have to use the following abbreviations: n.n. (lat. for «nomine nescio», name unknown), n.d. (no date of publication), and n.p. (no place of publication).
  • Titles of nobility are placed right next to the first name and aren't separated by a comma. However, the Flemish «Van» is part of the last name and is therefore placed at the beginning («Schwarzenberg, Walter von»; «Soto, Hernando de»; but: «Van Wezemael, Joris E.»).
  • If there are several authors their names are listed one after the other, separated by commas or semicolons; the last one of those is often replaced by «&». In general, all authors have to be specified in a bibliography and in contrast to references within a text (where in case there are more than two authors only the first person is named along with the addition «et al.»). In areas where there are a lot of people contributing to an article (e.g. there can be more than 50 contributors in Physics), there are special rules. We recommend looking at the requirements of relevant journals.
  • If you use several works by one author it is necessary to list those chronologically.
  • If you use several works by one author published in the same year you begin with listing the works published alone, followed by those published with others. Each section has to be ordered alphabetically by the work's title. When adding small letters right next to the date, you can clearly identify cross references (2005a; 2005b...).
  • The date of publication is often placed after indicating the author (in parentheses or not), or at the end.
  • It is not common usage to specify the publisher (often after indicating the place); however, this makes it easier when trying to find a source.
  • The editor (or editors) is recognized by the abbreviation (ed.) (or (eds.), respectively), placed right after the name.


Use the same way of quoting for the entire paper.

In addition, the following rules apply to the examples further down. These are not general rules but options when creating a bibliography.

  • When dealing with institutions, we recommend listing a common acronym first before specifying the full name in parentheses, e.g. «DFID (Department for International Development) 2000: 95». Its corresponding cross reference is therefore: (DFID 2000: 95).
  • Reprints should be indicated by placing their publication date before or after the date of the original publication (e.g. «(1897 / 1993)» or «1993 [1897]»).
  • Information on the edition can be placed after the title in parentheses; the publication date of the edition used in the paper is indicated as usual after the author's name. Editions can also be specified by putting it superscript next to the publication date (e.g. «(20077)»). If there isn't any additional information, a first edition is used or the edition published at the date given.
  • When listing a lot of sources it makes sense to section the bibliography by printed sources, unprinted ones, quoted literature, and literature not quoted. Another option is to order it by monographs, essays, articles, and internet sources.
  • After indicating the date in parentheses, you specify the title (and subtitle), separated by a colon. Title and subtitle are separated by a period, if the original doesn't say otherwise. Using only capital letters in titles doesn't apply to bibliographies.
  • When referring to essays, contributions in anthologies, magazines, journals, congresses, etc., the title is followed by the word «In» or «in». Then one specifies the publisher, the complete title of the anthology/magazine/journal, etc., (edition, series), place of publication, page number.


It is important to be consistent as regards quotations and bibliographies!

Printed or written sources

Scripts (no author)

Listed by location, signature, notation.
=> Staatsarchiv Zürich. B II 6-58. Ratsmanuale 1484-1515.

Printed sources (no author)

Listed by title, editor (ed.), date of publication, place of publication.
Periodicals are also considered as printed sources, if examined for a longer period of time.
=> British Documents on the Origins of the War 1898-1914. Ed. by G.P. Gooch et al., 1927, Vol. II, London.
=> Neue Zürcher Zeitung. März 1934 – Januar 1937.
=> Tages-Anzeiger der Stadt Zürich (2002): Teures Studium. 22.08.2002, S. 12. oder
=> N.N. (2002): Teures Studium. In: Tages-Anzeiger der Stadt Zürich, 22.08.2002, S. 12.


The most important thing when writing a bibliography is to use literature that can be found e.g. in a library.


Last name (highlighted differently in the examples below), first name (year): title. Subtitle. Series, volume, edition, place of publication: publisher. Indicating the publisher is usually not necessary; however, it is getting more and more common since it is then easier to find a book, especially if it isn't available at public libraries.
=> Müller-Böker, Ulrike (1995): Die Tharu in Chitawan. Kenntnis, Bewertung und Nutzung der natürlichen Umwelt im südlichen Nepal. Erdwissenschaftliche Forschung, 33. Stuttgart: Steiner.
=> BACKHAUS, Norman (1999): Zugänge zur Globalisierung – Konzepte, Prozesse, Visionen. Schriftenreihe Anthropogeographie, Vol. 17. Zürich: Geographisches Institut der Universität Zürich.
=> UNDP (United Development Programme (2010): Human Development Report 2010 The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development. Human Development. New York.
=> Werlen Benno (1987): Gesellschaft, Handlung, Raum. Wiesbaden: Steiner.

University publications

Last name, first name (year): title. Subtitle. Specification of publication, university, (place of publication).
=> Fritschi, Astrid (2006): Local perceptions of environmental changes. Case study in the Ayuquila Watershed, Western Mexico. Diplomarbeit. Geographisches Institut der Universität Zürich.
=> Pronk, Marco (2005): Making sense of the world in reach. A study on everyday geography-making in transcontextual lifeworlds. With empirical inquiries into consumption and communication in contemporary Bangkok. Dissertation. Chemisch-Geowissenschaftliche Fakultät der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena.

Essays, articles in books or journals

Last name, first name (year): title. Subtitle. In: last name, first name (ed.): title. Subtitle. Series, volume, edtion, place of publication, page number(s).
=> Müller, Urs & Backhaus, Norman (2006): Regionalisierung und die Methode der Bildanalyse. In: Backhaus, Norman & Müller-Böker, Ulrike (eds.): Gesellschaft und Raum – Konzepte und Kategorien. Schriftenreihe Humangeographie, Bd. 22, Zürich, S. 31-51.
Last name, first name (year): title. Subtitle. In: journal / newspaper / special publication, (number,) date, place of publication, page number(s) («bk.» for book, «p.» for page, «vol.» for volume, or «nr.» for number. This information can also be omitted. If you avoid such abbreviations it is important to list all data consequently and clearly).
=> Steimann, Bernd (2008): «Niemand hier respektiert meine Grenzen» – Konflikte zwischen Hirten und Goldsuchern auf Kirgistans Weiden. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Nr. 39, 16. / 17.2.2008, 9.
=> Thieme, Susan; Kollmair, Michael & Müller-Böker, Ulrike (2006): Transnationale soziale Netzwerke und Migration: Nepalis aus Far West Nepal in Delhi. Geographische Rundschau, Jg. 58, Nr. 10, 24-32.

Compendiums, dictionaries

Compendiums and dictionaries are often referred to as follows: Title (year): volume, edition, publisher. Place: publishing house.
=> Diercke-Wörterbuch der allgemeinen Geographie (1993): Hrsg. Leser, H., (7. Auflage). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag.
However, the following quotation is correct as well: Publisher (year): title, volume, edition. Place: publishing house.
=> Leser, Hartmut (ed.) (1993): Diercke-Wörterbuch der allgemeinen Geographie, 7. Auflage. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag.

The internet as a source


As already mentioned, sources from the Internet are controversial (cf. «Internet research via search engines»). There are also no generally accepted standards when citing online sources. In addition, it is obvious that online sources tend to be short-lived; they can be altered or even deleted the very next day. This tendency to fleetingness makes it difficult to guarantee a paper's traceability when using such sources.

Additionally, the online and print versions of Internet sources often differ as regards their pagination. This fact should be considered when quoting sources from the Internet. However, the Internet serves as a source of information that has become indispensable to people. There are possibilities to quote Internet sources despite their fleetingness, for example by archiving their URL by means of the service «WebCite®» (cf. «Archiving websites via WebCite®»).


Sources from the Internet can be very short-lived.

Internet sources in bibliographies

Internet sources generally contain the following information:

  • Author / corporation: If it is not possible to identify neither author nor corporation you add the abbreviation «N.N.» (lat. nomine nescio = «name unknown»).
  • Title
  • URL / Internet address
  • Date of last update (As at: ‹date›), followed by the date of access (access: ‹date›) (Baade et al. 2005: 160). The date of the last update is not always traceable. In that case it is mandatory to indicate the date of accessing that source. If there isn't any information on the date of publication you simply add «n.d.».

Author / corporation, (editor) (year): title. ‹Internet address› (as at: ‹date›) (access: ‹date›).
=> SciDok (Der Wissenschaftsserver der Universität des Saarlandes (n.d.): Zitieren von Onlinequellen.
‹https://publikationen.sulb.uni-saarland.de/help/SULB/zitieren.jsp› (access: 21.09.2021)
=> GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit) (1998): Orientierungsrahmen: Bodenrecht und Bodenordnung.
‹https://www.yumpu.com/de/document/read/21298744/orientierungsrahmen-bodenrecht-und-bodenordnung-gtz› (As at: 1998; access: 21.09.2021)

According to (Baade et al. 2005), internet sources without any available information on author, date, or title should be regarded as not quotable.

Further rules and tips

  • In bibliographies you usually avoid underlining Internet addresses. However, such addresses are often put in angle brackets (‹URL›) or they are introduced by a short note: «Online on the Internet: ‹Internet address› or URL: ‹Internet address›», etc. It is important to indicate the exact address and not just the super-ordinate page. However, when quoting online journals and periodicals you often list their homepage, the date of appearance (journals), or volume and number (periodicals), since there is often only a limited amount of articles that can be accessed publicly.
  • Hyphenating an URL should be avoided (by deactivating the automatic hyphenation when using a word-processing program).
    => Willamowski, Marcus (2000): Zitierfähigkeit von Internetseiten. JurPC We- Dok, 78 / 2000.
    ‹https://www.jurpc.de/jurpc/show?id=20000078› (As at: 22.5.2000; access: 21.09.2021).
  • A lot of documents from the Internet are also available in printed form. This should be indicated when referencing such a source, for example by adding a short note: «Also at: ‹URL›».
    => Messer, Norman & Townsley, Philip (2003): Local institutions and livelihoods: Guidelines for analysis. Rural development division. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Rome. Also at:
    ‹http://www.fao.org/3/y5084e/y5084e00.htm› (Date: 21.09.2021).
  • Pagination can differ when using the print or online version of a source. In order to make things easier, you should add «[with differing page numbers]» when referencing such sources. In case there aren't any page numbers available when using the online version, you should mention this as well, for example with «[no page numbers]».
    => Roger Williams University (2008): Citation style guide. Citing sources. Bristol. [no page numbers]
    ‹https://rwu.libguides.com/citingsources› (access: 21.09.20021).

Archiving internet sources

As mentioned before, it is easy to modify information on the Internet at any time. It is therefore mandatory to indicate the exact date of access when quoting a source from the Internet. By means of the «Wayback Machine» (‹https://www.archive.org/index.php›), it is possible to access (some) archived pages on this platform to retrieve information once quoted.

Archiving websites via WebCite®

The service «WebCite®» (‹https://www.webcitation.org/›) is for free and makes it easy to archive websites, if necessary. You can then reference this «frozen» version when writing a paper (Baumgartner 2008a: n.p.). You proceed as follows when archiving an URL via WebCite®:

  1. Open the page to be archived, then go top the WebCite page:
  2. Fill in a form and indicate e-mail address. After archiving you will receive a confirmation along with a corresponding archiving URL.
  3. The note «(Archived via WebCite® as ‹archiving URL›)» should be added to the usual information of a reference.
    => Baumgartner, Peter (2008): WebCite® – Zitieren von Internetquellen. [no page numbers]
    ‹https://peter.baumgartner.name/2008/03/30/webcite-zitieren-von-internetquellen/› (As at: 30.3.2008; access: 28.5.2008) (archived at WebCite® as ‹https://www.webcitation.org/5Y9JmUR5O›

Audio-visual sources in bibliographies

Most of the time, there are a lot of authors in different roles as regards audio-visual sources such as movies, radio programs, music, etc. Since a title of a movie or play is often better known than its author, it is possible to refer to the title instead of its author, making it easier to find the corresponding source. However, there isn't a general rule as how to quote such a source. We recommend the following options:
=> Avatar (2009): Cameron, James (director and producer) & Landau, Jon (producer), Lightstorm & 20th Century Fox (DVD). oder
=> Cameron, James (director and producer) & Landau, Jon (producer) (2009): Avatar, Lightstorm & 20th Century Fox (movie-DVD).
=> Echo der Zeit (2010): Gentechnisch veränderte Kartoffeln, Radio DRS2, podcast, 02.03.2010, https://pod.drs.ch/echo_der_zeit_mpx.xml
=> Krokus (2010): Hoodoo, Sony Music Entertainment Switzerland (music-CD).

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