STAK Activity

Bibliography Tips and Tricks

Use this activity to help students learn how to create references for sources other than books and journal articles.

Creating references is an essential skill, but students often struggle to identify and cite sources other than books and journal articles. This activity helps students learn how to reference more complicated sources, such as laws, radio programs and book chapters, using a particular reference style and referencing software. 


On completion of this activity, students will be able to: 

– Understand the diversity of academic sources and how to refer to them correctly. 

– Understand that reference styles have templates for many different document types, and that through guides they can find the correct template for their needs.

– Use reference management tools to create references to things other than journal articles and books.

– Create references consistently, thereby improving their scholarly skills.


This activity asks students to examine two or three sources that are not journal articles or books, and to create a reference for each based on a specific referencing style. Students then work with the references created in a reference management program. 


– Ask students to create an account with the preferred reference program, e.g., RefWorks, Zotero, Mendeley, Endnote. 

– Ask students to find, or provide them with, a guide to the reference style chosen, e.g., APA, Harvard, Vancouver. 


Step 1
Tell your students about the types of sources that they might need to reference that are not journal articles or books, e.g., a report, an executive order, a radio programme, a website, or a chapter in a book.
Step 2
Put students into groups of four (max) and ask each group to find two or three sources (other than books and articles) and identify what type of sources they are.
Step 3
Ask students to create references for these sources based on a pre-selected reference style.
Step 4
Ask students to turn their references into paper airplanes and throw them to another group. If you are delivering this activity online, students can swap references with another group through direct messaging or private chat with another group member.
Step 5
Now ask each group to find the sources from the references created by another group. Ask them to decide what type of material the reference is for.
Step 6
Demonstrate to your students how to enter a reference in the selected reference system and advise them on how to find the different templates (this varies from system-to-system).
Step 7
Asks the students to input the references they now have in their group into the reference tool or have them share their references with another group to input.
After the activity
If you have the opportunity, you can arrange to see the students' final assignments with references and give feedback on their referencing.


– Choose a reference programme.

– Choose a reference style

– Find the guidance for the chosen reference style, or ask the students themselves to find a guide as part of the activity.

– Source some difficult references and make sure you know how to create references for them.


Helle Brink and Charlotte Wind from Aalborg University Library, Denmark, together with participating librarians. 


  • Educator prep: Moderate
  • Duration: 30+ mins

This activity is one of a series of activities from the STAK Project, focused on developing students' digital skills. 

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Bibliography Tips and Tricks