Bibliographic Essay Guidelines

General Information

Choice bibliographic essays are intended to identify core books, journals, and digital resources that meet the needs of undergraduates, faculty, and librarians serving these users. Essays address new curricular or interdisciplinary areas; subjects that have garnered significant recent interest; or important new literature on a traditional subject. When the subject and due date of the essay are agreed on, the editor will send the author a copyright agreement to sign and return (by mail or as a scanned PDF file).



Essays are not introductions to a topic, but rather informative discussions of important literature on a topic. Accordingly, essays *take a position* in subjectively selecting and discussing the most important resources for the topic. The author's point of view sets the framework for the essay and provides its raison d’être. Rather than listing and describing resources, the author should evaluate each of the titles in a way that proves its worth to the body of literature about the topic and, thus, why it is in the essay. The author should also discuss the relationships between the resources discussed, providing a narrative thread throughout that explains how the resources are the same or different; if/how one picks up where another leaves off; how changes over time and/or historical context impact the research; and how the titles relate and create a well-defined body of work about the topic. Seminal works should be identified as such; particular journal articles should be included only if they are essential to the topic.


Organization, Length & Format

Essays should begin with an introduction and conclude with one or two summary paragraphs. The introduction should set the stage by describing the topic and the general state of the scholarly literature supporting it. It should also describe the characteristics of the body of selected resources, presenting a brief “thesis”—explaining the selection and why it succeeds as a core literature for that particular field of study. The introduction should then briefly describe the organization of the essay and explain the reason for that organization. The text should be prepared in MS Word with minimal to no formatting (Word templates should not be used). Reference materials—bibliographies, dictionaries, etc.—are typically discussed together, as are digital resources. But this is not a hard rule. Essays should discuss 50-75 titles and should top out at about 5,000 words. (Sample essays are available at


Editing & Style

Essays are edited for clarity and Choice house style. The editor will send the author a copy of the edited essay, with queries and comments, if any, before the essay goes to the copy editor. The editor will send the author page proofs before the essay goes to production.


Works Cited

Every title mentioned in the essay should be in the works cited list, and all titles in the works cited should be discussed in the essay. Citations should be arranged alphabetically by author (or by title, for edited works and digital resources). Information should include author(s)/editor(s), title, publisher, date of original publication, and (if applicable) preferred edition. URLs for internet resources should be formatted without embedded hyperlinks.


Additional Material

Along with the essay, the author should submit a brief biographical note stating his or her name, title, and affiliation.