Published on 14 February 2020 by Jack Caulfield. Revised on 5 May 2022.
Referencing is an important part of academic writing. It tells your readers what sources you’ve used and how to find them.
Harvard is the most common referencing style used in UK universities. In Harvard style, the author and year are cited in-text, and full details of the source are given in a reference list.
|In-text citation||Referencing is an essential academic skill (Pears and Shields, 2019).|
|Reference list entry||Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: The essential referencing guide. 11th edn. London: MacMillan.|
This quick guide presents the most common rules for referencing in Harvard style.
Table of contents
- Harvard in-text citation
- Creating a Harvard reference list
- Harvard referencing examples
- Referencing sources with no author or date
- Frequently asked questions about Harvard referencing
Harvard in-text citation
A Harvard in-text citation appears in brackets beside any quotation or paraphrase of a source. It gives the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, as well as a page number or range locating the passage referenced, if applicable:
The novel begins with the grim image of the train passengers’ faces, which are described as ‘pale yellow, the colour of the fog’ (Dostoyevsky, 2004, p. 5).
Note that ‘p.’ is used for a single page, ‘pp.’ for multiple pages (e.g. ‘pp. 1–5’).
An in-text citation usually appears immediately after the quotation or paraphrase in question. It may also appear at the end of the relevant sentence, as long as it’s clear what it refers to.
When your sentence already mentions the name of the author, it should not be repeated in the citation:
Woolf introduces the essay’s topic as ‘women and fiction’ (2000, p. 5), going on to discuss the various connotations of the phrase.
Sources with multiple authors
When you cite a source with up to three authors, cite all authors’ names. For four or more authors, list only the first name, followed by ‘et al.’:
|Number of authors||In-text citation example|
|1 author||(Davis, 2019)|
|2 authors||(Davis and Barrett, 2019)|
|3 authors||(Davis, Barrett and McLachlan, 2019)|
|4+ authors||(Davis et al., 2019)|
Sources with no page numbers
Some sources, such as websites, often don’t have page numbers. If the source is a short text, you can simply leave out the page number. With longer sources, you can use an alternate locator such as a subheading or paragraph number if you need to specify where to find the quote:
(Scribbr, para. 4)
Multiple citations at the same point
When you need multiple citations to appear at the same point in your text – for example, when you refer to several sources with one phrase – you can present them in the same set of brackets, separated by semicolons. List them in order of publication date:
Several in-depth studies have investigated this phenomenon during the last decade (Singh, 2011; Davidson, 2015; Harding, 2018).
Multiple sources with the same author and date
If you cite multiple sources by the same author which were published in the same year, it’s important to distinguish between them in your citations. To do this, insert an ‘a’ after the year in the first one you reference, a ‘b’ in the second, and so on:
The results of the first study (Woodhouse, 2018a) were inconclusive, but a follow up study (Woodhouse, 2018b) achieved a clearer outcome.
Creating a Harvard reference list
A bibliography or reference list appears at the end of your text. It lists all your sources in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, giving complete information so that the reader can look them up if necessary.
The reference entry starts with the author’s last name followed by initial(s). Only the first word of the title is capitalised (as well as any proper nouns).
Sources with multiple authors in the reference list
As with in-text citations, up to three authors should be listed; when there are four or more, list only the first author followed by ‘et al.’:
|Number of authors||Reference example|
|1 author||Davis, V. (2019) …|
|2 authors||Davis, V. and Barrett, M. (2019) …|
|3 authors||Davis, V., Barrett, M. and McLachlan, F. (2019) …|
|4+ authors||Davis, V. et al. (2019) …|
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Harvard referencing examples
Reference list entries vary according to source type, since different information is relevant for different sources. Formats and examples for the most commonly used source types are given below.
- Entire book
- Book chapter
- Translated book
- Edition of a book
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) Book title. City: Publisher.|
|Example||Smith, Z. (2017) Swing time. London: Penguin.|
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Chapter title’, in Editor name (ed(s).) Book title. City: Publisher, page range.|
|Example||Greenblatt, S. (2010) ‘The traces of Shakespeare’s life’, in De Grazia, M. and Wells, S. (eds.) The new Cambridge companion to Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–14.|
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) Book title. Translated from the [language] by Translator name. City: Publisher.|
|Example||Tokarczuk, O. (2019) Drive your plow over the bones of the dead. Translated from the Polish by A. Lloyd-Jones. London: Fitzcarraldo.|
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) Book title. Edition. City: Publisher.|
|Example||Danielson, D. (ed.) (1999) The Cambridge companion to Milton. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.|
- Print journal
- Online-only journal with DOI
- Online-only journal with no DOI
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Journal Name, Volume(Issue), pp. page range.|
|Example||Thagard, P. (1990) ‘Philosophy and machine learning’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 20(2), pp. 261–276.|
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Journal Name, Volume(Issue), page range. DOI.|
|Example||Adamson, P. (2019) ‘American history at the foreign office: Exporting the silent epic Western’, Film History, 31(2), pp. 32–59. doi:10.2979/filmhistory.31.2.02.|
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Journal Name, Volume(Issue), page range. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).|
|Example||Theroux, A. (1990) ‘Henry James’s Boston’, The Iowa Review, 20(2), pp. 158–165. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20153016 (Accessed: 13 February 2020).|
- General web page
- Online article or blog
- Social media post
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) Page title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).|
|Example||Google (2019) Google terms of service. Available at: https://policies.google.com/terms?hl=en-US (Accessed: 27 January 2020).|
|Format||Author surname, initial. (Year) ‘Article title’, Blog name, Date. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).|
|Example||Leafstedt, E. (2020) ‘Russia’s constitutional reform and Putin’s plans for a legacy of stability’, OxPol, 29 January. Available at: https://blog.politics.ox.ac.uk/russias-constitutional-reform-and-putins-plans-for-a-legacy-of-stability/ (Accessed: 13 February 2020).|
|Format||Author surname, initial. [username] (Year) Title or text [Website name] Date. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).|
|Example||Dorsey, J. [@jack] (2018) We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation … [Twitter] 1 March. Available at: https://twitter.com/jack/status/969234275420655616 (Accessed: 13 February 2020).|
Referencing sources with no author or date
Sometimes you won’t have all the information you need for a reference. This section covers what to do when a source lacks a publication date or named author.
No publication date
When a source doesn’t have a clear publication date – for example, a constantly updated reference source like Wikipedia or an obscure historical document which can’t be accurately dated – you can replace it with the words ‘no date’:
|In-text citation||(Scribbr, no date)|
|Reference list entry||Scribbr (no date) How to structure a dissertation. Available at: https://www.scribbr.co.uk/category/thesis-dissertation/ (Accessed: 14 February 2020).|
Note that when you do this with an online source, you should still include an access date, as in the example.
When a source lacks a clearly identified author, there’s often an appropriate corporate source – the organisation responsible for the source – whom you can credit as author instead, as in the Google and Wikipedia examples above.
When that’s not the case, you can just replace it with the title of the source in both the in-text citation and the reference list:
|In-text citation||(‘Divest’, no date)|
|Reference list entry||‘Divest’ (no date) Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest (Accessed: 27 January 2020).|
Frequently asked questions about Harvard referencing
- What’s the difference between Harvard and Vancouver referencing styles?
Harvard referencing uses an author–date system. Sources are cited by the author’s last name and the publication year in brackets. Each Harvard in-text citation corresponds to an entry in the alphabetised reference list at the end of the paper.
Vancouver referencing uses a numerical system. Sources are cited by a number in parentheses or superscript. Each number corresponds to a full reference at the end of the paper.
Harvard style Vancouver style In-text citation Each referencing style has different rules (Pears and Shields, 2019). Each referencing style has different rules (1). Reference list Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2019). Cite them right: The essential referencing guide. 11th edn. London: MacMillan. 1. Pears R, Shields G. Cite them right: The essential referencing guide. 11th ed. London: MacMillan; 2019.
- When do I need to use a Harvard in-text citation?
A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.
The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.
- How do I cite a source with multiple authors in Harvard style?
In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘et al.’
In-text citation Reference list 1 author (Smith, 2014) Smith, T. (2014) … 2 authors (Smith and Jones, 2014) Smith, T. and Jones, F. (2014) … 3 authors (Smith, Jones and Davies, 2014) Smith, T., Jones, F. and Davies, S. (2014) … 4+ authors (Smith et al., 2014) Smith, T. et al. (2014) …
- What’s the difference between a bibliography and a reference list?
Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference in meaning:
- A reference list only includes sources cited in the text – every entry corresponds to an in-text citation.
- A bibliography also includes other sources which were consulted during the research but not cited.
Sources for this article
We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.
This Scribbr article
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Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr and reads a lot of books in his spare time.
Reference structure and example: Author Surname, Initials. (Publication Year) 'Article title', Journal Name, Volume(Issue), Page(s). Available at: URL or DOI (Accessed: date).How do you Harvard reference fast? ›
Format Chapter author(s) (Published Year) 'Title of chapter', in Editor(s) of book followed by (ed.) or (eds) Title of book in italics. Place of publication: Publisher, Page numbers of whole chapter. Example Stone, T. (2002) 'Libraries in the twenty-first century', in M.What are examples of references? ›
- Article (With DOI)
- Article (Without DOI)
- Chapter in an Edited Book.
- Dissertations or Theses.
- Legal Material.
- Magazine Article.
- Newspaper Article.
What is Harvard Style? The Harvard referencing system is known as the Author-Date style. It emphasizes the name of the creator of a piece of information and the date of publication, with the list of references in alphabetical order at the end of your paper.What is the easiest way to reference? ›
Cite your sources both in-text and at the end of your paper. For in-text citation, the easiest method is to parenthetically give the author's last name and the year of publication, e.g., (Clarke 2001), but the exact way you cite will depend on the specific type of style guide you follow.How do I get good at referencing? ›
- Take note. Record details of information sources as you read. ...
- Know your style. ...
- Make use of referencing tools. ...
- Don't leave it to the last minute. ...
- Double check. ...
- Be consistent.
- Include In-text or Parenthetical Citations When Paraphrasing. ...
- Periods (Almost) Always Go After the Parenthesis. ...
- Be Consistent with Your Citation Style. ...
- All In-text and Parenthetical Citations Should Correspond with a Reference List Entry. ...
- Cite Properly, Not in Excess.
In Harvard style, citations appear in brackets in the text. An in-text citation consists of the last name of the author, the year of publication, and a page number if relevant. Up to three authors are included in Harvard in-text citations. If there are four or more authors, the citation is shortened with et al.How do you write a reference example? ›
Here's our reference letter template:
Dear [insert name], I am writing to recommend [employee_name]. [He/She/They] worked with us at [company_name] as a [employee_job_title] and [reported to me/ worked with me] in my position as [insert your job title]. As an employee, [employee_name] was always [insert quality].
- Author/editor (if it is an editor always put (ed.) ...
- Title (this should be in italics)
- [E-reader version]
- Edition (if not the first edition)
- Place of publication (where available)
- (Year of publication)
Harvard style referencing is an author/date method. Sources are cited within the body of your assignment by giving the name of the author(s) followed by the date of publication. All other details about the publication are given in the list of references or bibliography at the end.What is common reference? ›
Common Reference. Unique reference agreed upon by the two trade counterparties to identify the trade.What are references in an essay? ›
Referencing is a system that allows you to acknowledge the contributions and work of others in your writing by citing your sources. A feature of academic writing is that it contains references to the words, information and ideas of others. All academic essays MUST contain references.What do we mean by reference? ›
1 : the act of referring or consulting. 2 : a bearing on a matter : relation in reference to your recent letter. 3 : something that refers: such as. a : allusion, mention. b : something (such as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (such as a book or passage)What is a reference list for a job? ›
A reference page is a list of usually one to five people who can vouch for your skills and work styles, which employers may ask you to submit during the hiring process. The list includes: Your name and contact information. Reference name.