I am writing an introductory-level book about civil engineering and construction. I list the references at the very back. I show the title and name of the author at a minimum. Do I need something else? Is it obligatory to use a special format?

And no, I am not going to list specific page numbers from each, because from them I use information from many places and I lost track of what pages I looked at anyway.

Actually, the information I use is general and widely established engineering and construction information, which would be available in many other sources too, and whenever I use something specific I say it within the text anyway (i.e. per xxxxxx) so may be I do not even need to list references? I am an engineer myself so most of these things I already knew.

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    This is purely a matter of style and preference — yours, your students’ and your publisher’. So first, check with your publisher. If you haven’t a publisher then bring the same self-confidence and pedagogy to deciding what will be most useful to your reader, and then, if you teach students, offer them alternative mock-ups and ask them which they prefer. But, whatever you do, do it for a good reason, not because you think there is some absolute standard. Looking at and thinking about the styles of others is also something you should do.
    – David
    Oct 7, 2020 at 12:54
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    In academic writing, a citation to a source is expected to be sufficiently specific to enable the reader to find in the source the precise place that is being cited; a writer who lost track of what pages he looked at in his sources therefore needs to go back to them and locate the pages. Of course, a citation is not needed at all for what is common knowledge among the expected readers.
    – jsw29
    Oct 7, 2020 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


The answer to your question will depend upon what you need your readers to be able to do with what you provide.

If the purpose is only to provide an indicator that further reading is available, then title/author would probably suffice. If you need to cite sources or want to provide them with specific targeted reading, then full bibliographic information (title, author, publisher/journal, date, (ISBN?), chapter/section/page) might all be necessary. Think about your audience: Will student be able to find the reference and extract from it what you have?

Another approach is exemplified in Classical Mechanics by Herbet Goldstein, specifically in its 2nd edition (Addison-Wesley 1980). Therein, at the end of each chapter, a list of suggested references is provided. Each is just a title/author, but then appended by brief commentary on what aspects of the reference are pertinent and, in some cases, the way in which the reader may benefit by expanding beyond what has been presented. (As a student, I remember finding that format of reference both informative and interesting.)

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