Difference Between References And Bibliography Definition Glossary

The MDN glossary is the place where we define all the terminology, jargon, and abbreviations used in documentation and coding. Contributing to the glossary is a simple way to make the Web easier for everyone to understand. You don't need a high level of technical skill to write glossary entries because they should stay simple and straightforward.

This article describes how to write a good glossary entry about a term for the MDN web docs site.

How to write an entry

If you're looking for topics that need a glossary entry, check the list of undocumented terms at the end of the Glossary landing page; click any of those links to start a new Glossary page for the item you clicked; then follow the steps below.

If you have an idea for a new glossary entry , just open the following button in a new tab, and then follow the steps below the button:

Step 1: Write a summary

The first paragraph of any glossary page is a simple and short description of the term (preferably no more than two sentences). Make sure anyone reading the description can understand the defined term immediately.

Note: Please don't copy-and-paste definitions from elsewhere (especially not Wikipedia, since its range of license versions is smaller, and thus incompatible with that of MDN). It's really important to make sure this content is simple and easy to understand. It's worth spending some time on it rather than stealing content blindly. This glossary should be useful new content, not repeating things from elsewhere.

Links to the glossary entry will use these summaries inside their tooltips, so that readers can see the definitions without navigating away from the page they're on. (See below how to insert links to glossary entries with the {{Glossary}} macro.)

If you must, you can add a few extra paragraphs, but it's very easy to find yourself writing a whole article. Writing a whole article is fine, but please don't put it in the glossary. If you aren't sure where to put your article, feel free to reach out to discuss it.

Step 2: Expand with links

Finally, a glossary entry should always end with a "Learn more" section. This section should contain links to help the reader move forward: discovering more details, learning to use the relevant technology, and so on.

We recommend that you sort the links into at least these three groups:

General knowledge
Links that provide more general information; for example, a link to Wikipedia is a good starting point.
Technical reference
Links to more in-depth technical information, on MDN or elsewhere.
Learn about it
Links to tutorials, exercises, or any other materials that help the reader learn to use the technology behind the defined term.

Suggested terms

So you want to contribute but you don't know which terms need to be defined? Here's a list of suggestions. Click one and get started!

Dealing with disambiguation

Sometimes, a term has several meanings depending on the context. To resolve the ambiguities, you must follow those guidelines:

  • The term's main page must be a disambiguation page containing the macro.
  • The term has subpages that define the term for a given context.

Let's illustrate that with an example. The term signature can have different meanings in at least three different contexts: security, function and email.

  1. The page Glossary/Signature is the disambiguation page with the macro.
  2. The page Glossary/Signature/Security is the page defining a signature in a security context.
  3. The page Glossary/Signature/Function is the page defining a function signature.
  4. The page Glossary/Signature/Email is the page defining email signature.

How to use the {{Glossary}} macro

The glossary is much more useful when people can access the definitions from another document without navigating away from what they're reading. Therefore we urge you to link to the glossary whenever you can, using the macro:

{{Glossary("browser")}}browserWhen a text matches the term to be defined, just use the macro as is (it's case insensitive)
{{Glossary("browser", "Web browser")}}Web browserTo display an alternative text, use the second argument to specify that text
{{Glossary("browser", "Web browser", 1)}}Web browserSpecify as an optional third argument to display the link as a regular link rather than a subtle hint

Links created with the {{Glossary}} macro always display a tooltip containing the glossary entry's summary paragraph.

Usage guidelines

In many cases, it's perfectly safe to use that macro everywhere on MDN. However, there are a few cases you should handle with care:

  • If a term is already linked to another part of MDN, leave it that way and do not use the {{Glossary}} macro.
  • Within an article section, use the {{Glossary}} macro only once for the same term (hint: a section always starts with a title).

For the detailed information on citing sources using MLA style with many more examples, please use the official MLA Handbook:


All information relating to MLA style as presented on this Web site has been based on this authoritative publication from the Modern Language Association of America.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.

Works Cited is sometimes referred to as References. These terms mean the same thing. Each is an alphabetical list of works cited, or works to which you have made reference. Works Cited is generally used when citing sources using MLA (Modern Language Association) style, while the title References is used when citing sources using APA (American Psychological Association) style.

MLA Works Cited and Bibliography are not the same. In Works Cited you only list items you have actually cited. In a Bibliography you list all of the material you have consulted in preparing your essay whether or not you have actually cited the work.

Entries in Works Cited, References, or Bibliography are put in alphabetical order by last names of authors, editors, translators, etc. or by first words of titles.

Special info about MLA bibliography example.

If the first word of the title is “The“, “A“, or “An“, and the word is being used as an article, e.g., in the title: The Little Book of Irish Clans, the entry is placed under “Little” and the article “The” is ignored. In the title: A Is for Apple, however, the entry is placed under A since A is used as a noun and not as an article in this case.

Sometimes the article “The” is used as part of the name of a company or magazine or journal for emphasis, e.g., The Champ, or The Sports Network. For Internet sites, use the URL as a guide. If “theyellowpages” is used in the URL, treat “The” as part of the title, and list “The Yellow Pages” alphabetically under “The“. If “edge” and not “theedge” is used in the URL, list the magazine title “The Edge” under “Edge” and treat “The” as an article and ignore it.

Where appropriate, a cross reference may be used to direct readers to the proper location, e.g. Yellow Pages, The See The Yellow Pages.


1. DO NOT number entries.

2. DO NOT list citations separately by categories. All references are placed in ONE ALPHABETICAL LIST by first words of citations, regardless of where citations come from.

3. Begin on a new page. Start on the 6th line from the top (or 1″ down from the top of the paper), center, and type one of the following titles: Works Cited, References, or Bibliography. Double space after the title. List all entries in alphabetical order by the first word, taking into consideration the rules governing titles that begin with articles.

4. Begin the first line of each entry flush at the left margin. Keep typing until you run out of room at the end of the line. Indent 5 spaces for second and subsequent lines of the same entry. Double-space all lines, both within and between entries. Remember that this is only a guideline adapted from the MLA Handbook. You are advised to follow the style preferred by your instructor.

Work Cited Vs Works Cited

There is a mistake that students often tend to make. They name their reference page the Work Cited page, which is incorrect. The proper name for it should be Works Cited, as the works by multiple authors, not one, are cited. The Works Cited page is often used in the Humanities, the MLA Style and the APA Style.

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