Writing your nonfiction book’s bibliography

If writing a nonfiction book, you’ll likely want to include a bibliography at the end of your book. This offers a list of other books, periodicals and online sources where you acquired information to write your book. It typically appears before the index.

Of course, there’s the possibility that you drew entirely upon your own expertise to write the book and did no research. A bibliography then isn’t needed. But that’s rare. Most writers invariably borrow information for other writers, and giving others credit for their ideas or research is only fair.

It’s also only fair to readers. They then can go to your source and see how accurately you quoted or paraphrased that book/periodical/online source. A bibliography also allows readers to identify other pieces that they might be interested in looking at for their own pleasure or professional interest.

The format for a bibliography in large part depends upon the field of study you’re writing about. For example, if you’re writing about anything related to the academic study of English and foreign languages as well as the humanities, you probably will use MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting. Those in some of the sciences and education fields use APA (American Psychological Association) format, while those in the medical professions use AMA (American Medical Association) format. And there are more. The styles for each format are available online at each association’s website.

You’ll want to make sure that you get the formatting right. Though tedious, it is a sign of professionalism. As you’re self-publishing, you’ve got a strike going against you as there’s still some bias against books that aren’t printed by mainstream publishers. Correctly doing the bibliography will go a long way in ensuring your book is taken seriously.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.