50+ Sample Reference Lists

What Is a Reference List?

Reference lists refer to the official list in your writing that contains a series of sources. For professional or educational documents such as book reports, the reference list generally contains the author’s name, book title, publication, and page numbers. Your sources may vary from a book, journal, article, website, or any other credible source. And how references are presented would also differ whether you arrange them in alphabetical order, follow a simple bibliography format, or perhaps opt for MLA or APA style.

According to Lib Guides, there are four main reasons why citing references is important: (1) to prove that you did your research, (2) to give credit for other people’s works, (3) to prevent plagiarism, and (4) to let other people track your sources and cite them in other paperwork too.

Also, did you know that plagiarism is punishable by a $100–$50,000 fine or one year in jail?

Why Are Reference Lists Needed?

Indeed, writing a reference list is similar to writing citations or bibliographies where you determine published works that you credited in your paper. But why is it necessary in the first place? In this section, learn about some of the top reasons that prove why reference lists are important.

Prompts an Organized List of Sources

You will appreciate a reference list for creating an overview or itemized list specifically for sources. Just like in writing a professional report or educational document, there is a specific page mainly for the reference page. That is where your reference list is introduced. So to make it easier in tracking your sources and checking the author’s name, publication date, and other key data from your citations, an organized or easy-to-read reference list is necessary.

Follows a Specified Format

The common question in writing sources is to arrange it in APA (American Psychological Association) or MLA (Modern Language Association) format. And it is crucial you know the criteria of your written paper on which format to use, especially when there are still more formats available. Otherwise, your work would be quickly rejected by your moderator if you fail to follow the right format.

Prevents Plagiarism

Never forget that no matter what you write, you better cite your sources if you mentioned unoriginal ideas or theories. Otherwise, you could commit plagiarism. Plagiarism refers to stealing other people’s research reports or any published work and claiming them as your own. And this type of misdemeanor is punishable by law. In fact, plagiarism fines range from $100–$50,000 or one year in jail.

Contains Any Type of Reference Needed

Always remember that a reference list can cover all sorts of references. For example, you need not limit your sources to books because you can also use journal articles, websites, magazines, and other published works as references. More so, you can basically use people as your reference, especially in job resumes. In this case, you will not be stating published papers but names of people who can vouch for your experience, character, or overall performance to qualify for your chosen job application.

The Standard Reference List Format

After that whole introduction regarding the reference list’s definition and importance, it is crucial to recognize the standard format of your reference list next. Just take note that this format below is the average guide for APA style citations:

Title: The title is every reference list’s introductory statement. The title can simply be directly called “References” in your document and it should be centered, starting with a capital letter.Indent: Observe indentions carefully and using the hanging indent is standard. Also, leave at least five to seven spaces for the next set of lines of every reference.Double Space: Double space between references to create a neat look in presenting your data. Also, this is easy to read, just like in a standard data report.Ampersand: Know when to write “and” or “&.” It is expected that if you wrote lots of authors in your reference, an ampersand should be present before you mention the last author.Author with Two Publications: When you come across one author with two publications, always mention the early works first. The order of publication is arranged by year. But if the publication is within the same year, just put “a” or “b” in the citation such as (1997a).URLs: In case you mentioned websites or URLs, do not include the underlines as you often see in links to make sure even the underscores are visible in your reference list.Different Authors: In listing down different authors, don’t simply arrange them in page numbers like the table of contents or any random order. Authors must be arranged in alphabetical order for easy navigation as you search per author name.Capital Letters: There is a difference in writing capital or uppercase letters if you refer to a journal title or a book/article title. For journal titles, write in a headline format where you capitalize every single word except for prepositions and articles. Meanwhile, book/article titles should be capitalized in sentence style. That means you simply capitalize the first word of a title and subtitle after the colon as well as proper nouns.Place of Publication: In mentioning US publishers, write the full name of the city and an abbreviation of the state such as Springfield, MA. On another note, non-US publishers must write the full name for both the city and the country such as London, England.Page Range: A hyphen is not the right way to mention page ranges. You should use en dash without any gap between the en dash and the page numbers. And the keyboard shortcut for en dash is the control key and the minus sign from the numeric keypad.Square Brackets: Although this is optional, additional information can be included to identify specific sources and you need square brackets after the title in doing this.

How to Make an Easy Reference List

Are you ready to create your own reference list? Never fret because you can certainly ace the job with easy steps to guide you along the way. So be sure to follow these:

Step 1: Determine Your Purpose

First things first, why do you need to concoct a reference list? Determine your goal or statement of purpose to be sure that your reference list’s content will align with your objectives in the long run. For example, are you supposed to cite sources for a research project? Or perhaps, you need a list of names in a job reference list instead? Because if you get mixed up with either of those two examples, your reference list would be very different.

Step 2: Use a Sample Reference List Template

Why bother making reference lists out of scratch when there are premade and easy-to-edit samples you can use? Sample.net is your free reference list generator, and you can pick any option from the 50+ sample reference lists above this article. You can use an online reference list template, job reference list template, project reference list template, or even a Harvard reference list example. Select a template and customize your reference list now!

Step 3: Follow the Right Formatting Style

You should know by know as to what the appropriate formatting style is fitting to your reference list. Take note of the differences between APA and MLA styles, for example. APA format: Langer, R. (1990). New methods of drug delivery. Science, 249(4976), 1527–1533. MLA format: Langer, R. “New Methods of Drug Delivery.” Science 249.4976 (1990): 1527–33. Although they are of the same thought, their presentation is dissimilar. And knowing the right formatting for your document is the key to increasing your work’s credibility and being accepted by your moderator.

Step 4: List Down What’s Needed to Include

In a single source, you can write down as much information as you want such as the name of the author, year of publication, title, page number, and other details. However, only write what is relevant to your document and your chosen formatting style. A detailed letter way of writing a report may be good but too much data, especially irrelevant ones, can only weaken your document’s overall content. Make it easy to read, succinct, and comprehensive no matter what.

Step 5: Be Sure to Fact-Check Your Sources

It is a no-brainer that fact-checking is a crucial step in formulating the reference list. Remember that you are not only to double-check your reference list’s format but also the references themselves. Maybe you wrote the wrong page number, you misspelled an author’s name, or that you included works from an unreliable source. Those simple mistakes can automatically ruin your work, and the last thing you want to happen is when readers or moderators point out such errors. So after you are done writing the list of references, set an evaluation report first before submitting it to rectify any error.


Why is citing sources important?

Lib Guides introduced four reasons why citing is important. And these are:

  • To show you did your own research
  • To credit other published works
  • To prevent plagiarism
  • To allow others in tracking your sources or citing them as well

What should you include in a job reference list?

In referencing certain names of people who know you in a job reference list, don’t forget to include your name at the top page, your detailed list of references (name, job title, company name, and contact list), and also your relationship with each reference. The general rule is to mention at least three professional references in a job reference list.

What are the different citation styles?

Some of the major citation formatting styles you can use are the APA style, MLA style, IEEE style, Harvard style, and ACS style.

With the many references you have cited in a whole document, it is essential that you collate such information and enlist them in a reference list for easy viewing. You never know how much it could save time to just scan in the reference page to track sources and cite similar sources for future works. Thankfully, you never have to struggle in making reference lists using the sample templates in this article. Create your reference list with Sample.net now!