I want to add non-cited references to bibliography for two reasons.

  1. Sometimes, it is not clear whether I referred to it or not. Clearly, not only citing a statement is a citation, but also citing an idea is a citation. But if I didn't cite the ideas and if another idea comes across my mind, sometimes I can not sure my idea is inspired by the references or not. In that case, I want to add the references to bibliography.

  2. There are some references I didn't cite but it would be useful for the readers.

May I feel free to add non-cited reference to bibliography?

Addition: Maybe I had to clarify I am in Mathematics field, and many authors add the references to bibliography as a "reference", not as a "cited writing". If I cited anything, then I will definitely notify the readers the citation specifically. However, is it not allowed to add some papers or books to bibliography that I just referred to?

  • 2
    I have seen this done several times, usually prefaced by a statement that indicates you are including texts relevant to the topic but not mentioned explicitly in the body of the paper. This is most common in surveys. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:05
  • 1
    Probably no one will notice.
    – Thomas
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:27

7 Answers 7


It depends on the style you are following. I like this APA style blog post

For many students, the purpose of the reference list is to prove that they completed the assignment. They were assigned a research topic; they researched the heck out of it; and the reference list is there to demonstrate their hard work.

The blog goes on to differentiate the difference (at least in their opinion) between an APA style reference list where everything that is cited is in the list and everything in the list is cited and a bibliography (e.g., Chicago Manual style) where there can be things that are not cited.

  • I realized that I am not following APA style since I always thought the bibliography must contain the papers that not only I cited but also I refered. The reason I thought in this way is many papers and books in my field do in this way. Maybe Chicago Manual style is what I am looking for. Thanks for the link!
    – user82807
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 17:54
  • Why are you assuming this is the case of a student doing a homework? It's not clear from his question. Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 11:26
  • @user4050 I am not. That was just my favorite part of the blog post and it introduces one reason why you might want to do it, unlike the other answers which say don't do it.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:43
  • To demonstrate I did hard work is not my reason, though. I wanted to credit the references that influences to my work, and I was worried about if the influence is indirect, is it over-crediting or not. Then I learned that it is allowed to add those references to bibliography as the blog post by Jeff Hume-Pratuch says, "Other documentation systems, ... A bibliography can be more expansive, covering works that were consulted by the author or recommended for the reader but not cited in the text itself". Please let me know if I misunderstood.
    – user82807
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 22:54

My writing rule is that I list in the bibliography only what I indeed cite. Bibtex helps there a lot.

But if you want to provide some further reference to the readers, then why not just cite them? Like,

The reader might find the works by Spongebob, (1749); Patrick and Star, (1997); Squidward et al., (2018) useful.

just more sane.

  • Ooops, necroposted. Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 15:40
  • The SE model encourages necroposts. Your answer is help so don't worry about it.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 17:58

If an idea or a statement is novel and it's appearing for the first time there is nothing to cite. Anything else needs to be cited. And don't add any citations in the bibliography which you are not citing in the text. Otherwise the reader will wonder why you didn't cite it.


No. There are some "rules" that cannot be broken. One of those is regarding the citation.

I would perhaps write something like "(author,YYY) said.... (for more examples see author1,YYYY; author2, YYYY)"

And then put the reference in your written text to whatever you believe is useful as an extension of an idea you are giving. Use words like "For examples, see...", "See ____ for ___" where you can put the reason why you believe the reader should look at those "extra references".


You can effectively achieve the same result while avoiding the dilemma of whether you can add such bibliography entries or not:

Dedicate a sentence or paragraph to mentioning additional sources not otherwise used.

Even if something is not used directly, you're putting it in the bibliography because it's relevant, right? Well, put a sentence or a paragraph at the end of your "Introduction" or "Related work" section, or even at the end of the (sub)section where you almost-cite those sources, which can go something like this:

\paragraph{Additional sources} Other effects of foo on bar are
surveyed in \cite{Source123}. An alternative conception of the
frobnication of bars to the one presented here can be found in 

I prefer to always cite everything, and indeed, to use bibtex so that it only adds cited items to the bibliography. (I belive this is the default, also.)

If there is an item I feel would be useful to readers, then I feel it is better to write a sentence in the text which explains how and to whom it would be useful. For example:

numerical studies on the subject include the monograph of Author~\cite{Author:2014} and two articles~\cite{Author:2010,Author:2013}

Likewise, if there are related ideas, then it is often nontrivial to understand how they are related, or what part of an article in particular is related. Explaining this to the readers is a service the writer should do. For example:

Lemma 3 in our work is similar to an approach of Gauss~\cite{Gauss:1814}, while the proof of the main theorem has the same ideas as a proof of Euler~\cite{Euler:1755}.

These both make it easier for a reader to write relevant literature. It is not uncommon to first find an article related to what one wants to find, and then read the introduction to find more possibly related papers, until finally finding what one is after (if it exists). Texts that say a few words about the relevancy of bibliography items are vastly superior to texts which only list related works, or, even worse, only contain them in the bibliography without any context.


I have done this on a couple of occasions and originally had the same worry, my solution was to just add a sentence explaining its relevance to shaping my text.


PERREN, C . and MLECEK, M . (eds .) (2015) Perception in architecture: here and now . Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

This book helped to shape my knowledge whilst exploring the other texts. No Citation.

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