If the desired length of a SOP is 1.5-2 pages, is it okay to have an extra page for bibliography? (so that I cite books/papers in the formal way)
Clarification: I mean 2 pages of text, plus 1 page of bibliography.

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    What does "desired length" mean? If it means 1.5-2 pages feels right to you, then adding a bibliography page is probably OK. If it means you were given a formal length limit of 2 pages in the application instructions, then this is a risky thing to try. Nov 23, 2013 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


In my general experience, a statement of purpose rarely needs to be so detailed as to necessitate inclusion of a bibliography. That said, there is nothing expressly preventing you from including a bibliography. On the other hand, part of me is skeptical of the wisdom of including a full-page bibliography in association with a two-page statement. It may seem very much like overkill.

Unless you're citing each and every one of the works in the bibliography individually, I don't see a logical reason to include that many works. I'd stick to just the essential citations needed to explain what you want to do.

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    I have no intention to include a whole page of Bibliography. What i want to do however, is to avoid citing like "the book Short_title by First_Author" or "[his/her] work published in Some_Conference in Some_Year" and instead append a Bibliography at the end of the Document. My question is about that Bibliography going past the 2 page formal limit for the SoP.
    – Prospects
    Nov 23, 2013 at 13:12
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    Including a bibliography in order to save on words in the body of the statement is a questionable proposition. Why do you feel that a full citation is really needed?
    – Kallus
    Nov 23, 2013 at 15:36
  • Well, i need to make a number of references. I think it is messy to cite in a "custom" way, so i prefer following the formal way ( like using bibtex to make a bibliography). But that way, i don't think i can stick to the 2 pages limit (bibtex entries take a lot of space usually). On the other hand, if i cite informally, i could have a 2 page document no problem.
    – Prospects
    Nov 23, 2013 at 16:58
  • Well, you could use inline citations (Smith, X, Ann Femtography 109, p. 771, 2007) or footnotes, which would probably take less space. Both are possible with bibtex.
    – Kallus
    Nov 23, 2013 at 21:07

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