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Category: Harvard Referencing

A Guide On Harvard Referencing Style

One of the most widely used referencing styles in the world is the Harvard referencing style. Based on an author-date system, Harvard referencing is recommended by many universities throughout the world because it is easy to use, read academic work and also facilitate findings and enlist all bibliographic references.

Harvard referencing can be used in any type of paper including literature reviews term papers, empirical studies, theoretical studies, methodological articles and other forms of academic writing. Harvard referencing style is an easy way of providing evidence and accrediting the sources used in a paper. This avoids suspicions of plagiarism because it gives credibility to the work of the authors involved.

Manner of referencing

There are several sources from which you can cite in an academic paper: journals, books, newspaper articles, internet websites or newspaper articles among others. In order for readers to find out the original material in your paper, Harvard referencing style consists of in-text citations indicating the author and the year of publication, and a detailed bibliography.

In-text citations mention the name of the author and the date of publication in brackets. Rules governing in-text citations include:
• They should exhibit consistency throughout the paper.
• In-text citations are written in round brackets. They are normally found at the end of a sentence, just before the sentence’s concluding punctuation. If there is a citation referring to a particular part of a sentence, it should be inserted at the end of a respective clause. Of importance to note is the fact that if an author’s name is included in a sentence, the citation should appear directly after the respective author’s name.
• When there is more than one author for a specific publication, all their names should appear in brackets in the same order as they appear in their publication and separated by the ampersand “&”. But if their names form part of a sentence, then use “and” to separate the authors’ last two names. For instance: “James and John (2012) indicate that…” or “more research on the same matter (Jacobsen, O’Malley & Kevin, 2008) reveals that…”
• If the author of some work cannot be identified, you should use the terms “Anon.” or “Anonymous” along with the work’s title in italics and the date of publication. However, in such cases, it is better to make efforts to find the name of the author especially when the work is part of the supporting evidence for your study. For instance: “Marketing Strategy (Anon., 2008) provides invaluable evidence for…”


The Harvard referencing style requires a list of sources at the very end of an academic paper where full bibliographic details of every book, website, journal or article are listed. Such a list enables all your readers to locate various pieces of information used in your study with ease. All items mentioned the list of references should be arranged in the alphabetical order of the names of authors. Details about items in the list of references should be mentioned including the year of publication, publisher, authors, website URLs, dates when websites were acceded etc. In this section, we shall expound on all these items. The Harvard referencing style does forbid the use of personal communications like informal emails and letters in the list of references. However, they can be cited in the text where need arises.
The manner of referencing ought to be very precise and adherent to the rules. The author’s name is followed by the year of publication; both details in parentheses at the end of the sentence. An alternative is to mention the author’s name and then putt the year in brackets when referring to some work in a direct manner.

Example one: “… the study heretofore has been proven by many researchers as well. (Jacobsen, 1989)”

Example two: “…not more than 40 percent of all incidences, as Jacobsen (1989) proved after several years of research.”

Another focal point in the Harvard referencing style involves direct quotes. When a student is quoting a fragment text comprising of less than 30 words, the student is allowed to incorporate the fragment in the text in single quotation marks. However, the year of publication and page number should be included in parentheses. When The pages being mentioned should be preceded by “p.” The Harvard referencing style requires users to write “pp.” for all page ranges.

Example: “demonstrate to the client that you are on top of their matter” as Sparksman (2008, p. 41) stated.
In the case of quotes with more than 30 words, the student is required to include a double space of 1.3cm of indent containing fragment text without quotation marks. However, you should introduce it with your own words.

Example: Mark L. Kutner adds weight on this physics aspect: When the time concept becomes suspect, it is important to reinvestigate the concept of length. We also need to think about how to measure the length of any given object. The two positions of the ends are measured and the difference taken. Nonetheless, measurements should be taken simultaneously in order for this procedure to become meaningful. (Kutner 2003, p. 129)

In other cases, an author may quote the work of another author. Harvard referencing style requires the author to acknowledge both primary and secondary sources by providing significant details for both sources in the reference list. For instance, if an Godwin cites work from Jackson, the text should appear as follows:
Jackson (cited in Godwin, 2011) offers compelling evidence concerning the facts enlisted below:


We have enough evidence to back up the aforementioned claim (Jackson, cited in Godwin, 2011).

Book Referencing in the List of Sources
The following rules are imposed by the Harvard referencing style when mentioning details of a book in the list of sources:
• Titles should be written in italics.
• Book information should appear in the following order: year of publication, title of the book, series, edition, editor, volume number (if any) or the number of volume(s), the publisher, place of publication, and the pages.
• Harvard referencing style requires minimal capitalisation: the student should limit capitalisation only to proper nouns as well as the first word of a book title. Subtitles should not capitalised. However, they should be separated from the main title of the book with a colon.
• In case we don’t have an author, the source can be listed with the first significant word in the title or with the editor’s name where available.

Bibliographical details are listed as follows in the Harvard Referencing style:

A Chapter in a book:
Author, X., Author, Y., and Author, Z. Year. Title of the Chapter: Subtitle. In: Editor M and Editor N (eds) Title of the Book. Place: Publisher, 11–22.

Journal articles:
General: Author, X., Author, Y., and Author, Z. Year. Title of the Article: Subtitle. Vol. number (issue): 11–22.

Example of Reference in a Book
Julie Dickson, 2001, Evaluation and Legal Theory. Hart Publishing.

Referencing a Book Chapter:
Frances, S., Ellie, W, Sizer. E. 2011. Nutrition Controversies & Controversies. In: The Proteins and Amino Acids: The Structure of Proteins. Oxford: Elsevier, 190-195.

Referencing a Journal Article
Wright, R., and Slatter, D. 2012. The Whole is Always Smaller than Its Parts’ – A Gigital Test of Gabriel Tardes’ Monads. The British Journal of Sociology, 64(3): 590-615

Different works of the same author and same year
When referencing works done by the same author you need to differentiate the year of publication—which is the main criterion for ordering. In case you are referencing two books done by one author and also published in the same year, Harvard referencing style requires that lower-case letters are used e.g. “x”, “y” or “z” after the year of publication. This should be done both in-text and the list of references.
Smith, X. 2010, The Power of Legal Systems, New York.
Smith, X. 2010a, The Law and Business in the 21st, Dallas.
Smith, X. 2010b, The Contemporary Legal-Business Regime, Austin.

Referencing an Unpublished Thesis
Chris M.N. 2001. Problems Suffered when Focusing on Reflective Activities: Potential Measures for Developing Self-assessment Skills in Learning Languages, Oxford University.

Referencing Newspapers
Neil, C. 2013. Bale of the Century. The Sun, 13 June, p. 7

Below are some abbreviations commonly used in reference lists:
Vols. Volumes
vol. Volume
trans. translator(s)
rev. Revised
suppl. Supplement
ser. Series
p. (pp.) page (pages)
n.d. no date
Edn. Edition
ch. Chapter

Website referencing

Harvard Referencing style recommends inclusion of full URLs when citing websites along with dates on which the author accessed them. Examples include:
– Webpages without an author: Neanderthal Man, 2006. [online] It’s available at: < http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/neanderthal.html/ page=984> [Accessed 6 August 2013].
– Web documents: Department of the Treasury, 2013. Treasury Honors Initiatives That Strengthen Global Communities and Advance American Interests. [online] Available at: < http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/news/Pages/Treasury-Honors-Initiatives-that-Strengthen-Global-Communities-and-Advance-American-Interests.aspx>. [Accessed 6 August 2013].
– Websites: NASDAQ, 2013. Information on Market Prices. [online] Available at: <http://www.nasdaq.com/> [Accessed 6 August 2013].

For more information about the Harvard referencing style, check referencing sections from websites like Monash University or Anglia Ruskin University.