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Harvard Style Referencing and In-Text Citations

Have you ever been unsure about how you should reference a webpage, journal article, or book that has numerous writers and an editor?  Well, now you don’t have to be bemused.  This simple guide will take you step-by-step through how to reference other authors’ work in your academic writing.



At university, whether you’re writing an essay, report or dissertation, you will need to consolidate your own work, thoughts and theories with  ideas devised by authors as well as with supporting research which has been carried out by experts and gurus within your subject area.  All the information and ideas which have been taken from researched writers must be fully referenced and acknowledged; this includes direct citations/quotations, which most people realize must be referenced, but also ideas which you have paraphrased closely or concepts which are not devised and named by you personally.

If you don’t reference these things, then you could be seen as committing plagiarism, which is considered to be a very serious offence when producing your written material for submission. Your assignment may be declared inadmissible and you run the risk of being removed from your course. Plagiarism is a very serious matter. More information on plagiarism is supplied in another section of Supaproofread’s academic centre.

Thus, you will need to include a full references section or bibliography at the end of your work to support your writing. Here is how you should set out your references.


Electronic Sources

Currently, there is no formal and universally agreed standard for referencing electronic sources of information because this is quite a new area.  You may find it difficult to cite references from the internet, not because some sources cannot be relied upon, but because the page (the URL) where you found the material could be changed.  This means that the information is prone to being lost, or disappearing altogether.
However, you still need to try to reference it as follows, so it is even more crucial with online sources that you gather the details that you need for correctly referencing your source at the time you collect the information. Don’t make it hard for yourself and have to come back and search for the information later.

That piece of advice goes for all referencing – get the details on paper right at the time you find the source.

Webpages/Online news articles

To reference an online source, you should cite the following information in the order in which it is given here:

  • Author or Editor name (which can be the name of a person or the name of corporation). If you’re experiencing difficulty finding this detail then the nearest ‘unit’ would be suffice – such as the organisation or brand.
  • The date of publication should follow in rounded brackets – this is the day, month and year of when the page was produced. This is generally to be found at the start of the document near the title, or can be located at the bottom of the page. If you can’t find the whole date then the year of the page production will suffice.
  • The title of the online resource should then appear in italics.
  • The type of source should appear in square brackets, e.g. [online].
  • The URL or as it’s commonly known the full web address (starting with http://) should follow.
  • The date you accessed the resource should be last [in square brackets] – this is important as these online sources are frequently updated.



If you add any information that is not contained in the online source referencing information, then you should include this in square brackets. This includes a note about any information that is missing but would otherwise be included in the referencing, such as for example, [no date].

Here is an example of how this referencing works:

Thomas, D. (15th August 2007) Hospitality operators must protect staff enforcing smoking ban [online] Available from: http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2007/08/15/315482/
hospitality-operators-must-protect-staff-enforcing-smoking-ban.html [Accessed 20 August 2007]

If the above was in an electronic paper, such as The Times or The Economist, then you need to include the specific newspaper’s publisher.  It would then be referenced as follows:

Byers, D. Bannerman, L. and Ford, R. (15th August 2007) Police chief calls for alcohol ban in public places, Times [online] Available from: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2263574.ece [Accessed 20 August 2007]


Electronic Journals


Most journals are accessed online through providers who hold articles on their servers, such as Emerald and Business Source Premier. Whichever database provider you use, you will need to state who they are, as they will tend to own the rights to that particular article online. It is important to clearly record the date the provider states as the online published date, as this can sometimes be different from the printed version.

What you will need to record for an electronic journal:

  • Author or Editor name (surname followed by initials)
  • The year of publication
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal (italicised or underlined)
  • Volume Number if it has one
  • Part or Issue Number
  • How it was accessed should be included in square brackets e.g. [online]
  • Page numbers – usually you will use information from several consecutive pages and then you should write this reference as follows : pp.50-57, for example.
  • Available from: whichever provider you used e.g. Emerald
  • The URL (Unique Resource Locator) or as it is commonly known, the full web address starting with http://
  • The date you accessed the resource – this should be included in square brackets

An Example:

Lugosi, P. (2007) Consumer participation in commercial hospitality: International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality, 1:3, pp.227-236 [online] Available from: Emerald insight. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/17506180710817756. [Accessed 20 August 2007]


The Harvard referencing system

Publishers, as well as many universities throughout the world, are increasingly requiring authors to conform to the Harvard style to reference all the sources that they use. There are other referencing systems that are used, such as footnotes[1] (at the end of a page) and endnotes (at the end of a chapter), but, overall, the Harvard system is the most popular amongst academics; some say this is because the system actually incorporates references to the source material in the text and thus they are more easily read in context with the sourced material.

The main element to the Harvard referencing system is that the bibliography is in alphabetical order. When you use this referencing system it will become easier to track your sources and allow your work to flow more coherently and logically. Many people use footnotes and endnotes to expand upon concepts and ideas so that the flow of the text is allowed to progress more freely, whilst allowing people to check up on further explanations through the footnotes and endnotes.

[1] Footnotes contain details of the source. They can be either the author’s name and (date), or more commonly are the full source of the text, for example: Mullins, L. (2005) Management and Organisational Behaviour, (7th Ed), Pearson Education: Harlow


Referencing research/source material in the body of your writing

Material from an article or book is referenced after the ideas or direct quote is used, using just the author’s surname and the date of publication in rounded brackets e.g. (Mullins, 2005). Where appropriate (when providing a direct quote or citing numbers/percentages from a specific page), be sure to include a page number like this - (Mullins, 2005, pp. 345) or (Mullins 2005: 345); the latter is the system we will use in this referencing guide, but you can use either referencing style. However, you must remember that, whichever referencing style you choose, you should be consistent.  If you are using material (e.g. a table or graph) from two separate pages, then you should display it as follows in rounded brackets: (Mullins 2005: 345, 736).  You can insert the reference for the text at the start, in the middle or at the end of a sentence, not forgetting – if it is at the end of a sentence – to place a full stop (period to our American friends) after the brackets, like so – (Mullins 2005: 345).

Should you be referencing more than one source, as ideas are often used by more than one source if they are good ideas then you should reference this as follows, within rounded brackets - (Mullins 2005: 345; Kirby 2003: 22). You should use a semi-colon to separate the different authors’ names.  When citing a source indirectly you will need to place the reference at the end of the sentence.

If your source text is by two authors, then you should use the following format – (Mullins and Kirby 2005) – or with two authors with the same name: (Mullins and Mullins 2005). If you are citing a source that has more than two authors then you will need to write the name of the first author then use et al. meaning the author “and others” e.g. (Mullins et al. 2005).

If you use two sources written in the same year where the author’s name is the same, then you should use (Mullins 2005a) for the first instance and for later referencing, simply change the letter in alphabetical order such as (Mullins 2005b), and (Mullins 2005c).

If you are going to place a quotation in your written material then you will need to acknowledge the source. If they are short enough the quotations need to be placed in the body of the text e.g. Mullins (2005: 345) believes that culture is ‘…truly understanding organisational behaviour…’[2]  with regards to large enterprises.  When using longer quotations you will need indent them with the source being referenced in rounded brackets at the end.

[2] You will notice I have used ‘…’ three dots either side of the quotation. This emphasises that I have taken the words Mullins has used from the middle of a sentence to support my argument.


Reference List/ Bibliography

When referencing, it is important to give an alphabetical reference list or bibliography as the last part of your essay, dissertation, or thesis. When placing an author’s name in the list it is considered usual to place the author’s surname and then their first initial; following the person’s name you should write the year of publication (in brackets); the correct title of the book or article should be underlined or in italics and then you should go on to cite the  publisher, and after a colon (:) the place of publication.


Alphabetical Authors

Always list your authors in alphabetical order; it’s helpful when you’re trying to find a resource.

Lynch, R., (2000) Corporate Strategy, (2nd Ed), Pearson Education: Harlow

Mullins, L. (2005) Management & Organisational Behaviour, (7th Ed), Pearson Education: Harlow


Two entries, same Author

Below is an example of how to cite two references to different texts by the same author in the same year.

Mullins, L. (2005a) Management & Organisational Behaviour, (7th Ed), Pearson Education: Harlow

Mullins, L. (2005b) Group work in Education and Training, Kogan Page: London


A chapter in a book

If you choose to cite a chapter from a book because you have only used material from one particular chapter in a text, then the bibliographical reference you will need will be:

Smith, J. (1975) ‘A source of information’, in Jones, W. (ed) (1998) One hundred
and one ways to find information about health
, Oxford University Press: Oxford.


Edited books

When referencing an edited book, i.e. a collection of papers or other research where the author is not cited – just the editor who put the collection together - you will need to reference this in the following way:

Jones, W. (ed) (1998) One hundred and one ways to find information about health, Oxford University Press: Oxford



Further Points

Before starting an essay, the first part I would write would be the bibliography, so that I could keep track of those important sources.  This helps because if you forget the book’s title, but know the author, then you can still fully reference the material.  This used to come in handy when photocopying a book or journal article, as I would write the author’s name on the back and the details down in my bibliography.  Numerous times, I have seen my fellow students deleting whole sentences because they didn’t record their references properly!

And, if you haven’t heeded my advice, then you need to listen to the advice from the learning department at Lancaster University, in the UK:

“Don't forget - especially first-year students - that all the ideas you get from your reading (as well as actual quotations) must be acknowledged and all items that you have read (and not merely those needing actual reference in the text) must appear in your bibliography. Otherwise you are in danger of inadvertent plagiarising, for which you may be penalised heavily by the Board of Examiners - this is an offence, under university regulations.” (www.lancs.ac.uk)


Final Point

This guide has been adapted from several sources, and it would be unprofessional for me to state that the above information is explicit and should necessarily be followed to the letter.  You should always consult with your tutors, university style guide and submission rules and follow their regulations on referencing.

The most important point is that your referencing should be consistent