A citation is a way to tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. A citation must include a set of parentheses. Without a set of parenthesis, one does not have a proper in-text citation and can risk being charged with plagiarism.

The Harvard reference style is a system that students, writers and researchers can use to incorporate other people’s quotes, findings and ideas into their work in order to support and validate their conclusions without breaching any intellectual property laws. The popular format is typically used in assignments and publications for humanities as well as natural, social and behavioural sciences.

Harvard referencing is an umbrella term for any referencing style that uses the author's name and year of publication within the text to indicate where you have inserted a source. This author-date system appeals to both authors and readers of academic work.

Some universities, and certain disciplines, may also require you to provide a bibliography.

This citation style is a parenthetical referencing system. Only the name of the author, the publication date of the source and, if necessary, the page numbers are included in such citations. The Harvard referencing style is made up of 2 main components:

  • In-text citations including the author’s surname and the year of publication should be shown in brackets wherever another source has contributed to your work
  • A reference list outlining all of the sources directly cited in your work
harvard style citation
The Harvard referencing style is the most popular citation style in academic writing. | Image source: EssayPro

While in-text citations are used to briefly indicate where you have directly quoted or paraphrased a source, your reference list is an alphabetized list of complete Harvard citations that enables your reader to locate each source with ease. Each entry should be keyed to a corresponding parenthetical citation in the main body of your work so that a reader can take an in-text citation and quickly retrieve the source from your reference list.

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Creating a Reference List

A reference list is a complete list of all the sources used when creating a piece of work. This list includes information about the sources like the author, date of publication, the title of the source and more. A Harvard reference list must:

  • Be on a separate sheet at the end of the document
  • Be organized alphabetically by author, unless there is no author then it is ordered by the source title, excluding articles such as a, an or the
    • If there are multiple works by the same author these are ordered by date, if the works are in the same year they are ordered alphabetically by the title and are allocated a letter (a,b,c etc) after the date
  • Be double spaced: there should be a full, blank line of space between each line of text
  • Contain full references for all in-text references used

In-Text Citation

In-text references are written within the main body of the text and refer to a quote or paraphrase. They are much shorter than full references. The full reference of in-text citations appears in the reference list. In Harvard referencing, in-text citations contain the author(s)’s or editor(s)’s surname, year of publication and page number(s).

Two or Three Authors

When citing a source with two or three authors, state all surnames like so:

Mitchell, Smith and Thomson (2017, p. 189) states…

Or,

(Mitchell, Coyne and Thomson, 2017, p. 189)

Four or More Authors

In this case, the first author’s surname should be stated followed by ‘et al’:

Mitchell et al (2017, p. 189) states…

Or,

(Mitchell et al, 2017, p, 189)

No Author

If possible, use the organisation responsible for the post in place of the author. If not, use the title in italics:

(A guide to citation, 2017, pp. 189-201)

Same Author: Multiple Works in the Same Year

If referencing multiple works from one author released in the same year, the works are allocated a letter (a, b, c etc) after the year. This allocation is done in the reference list so is done alphabetically according to the author's surname and source title:

(Mitchell, 2017a, p. 189) or Mitchell (2017b, p. 189)

Multiple Works in One Parentheses

List the in-text citations in the normal way but with semicolons between different references:

(Mitchell, 2017, p. 189; Smith, 200; Andrews, 1989, pp. 165-176)

Different Editions of the Same Work in One Parentheses

Include the author(s)’s name only once followed by all the appropriate dates separated by semicolons:

Mitchell (2010; 2017) states… Or (Mitchell, 2010; 2017)

Reference With No Date

In this case simply state ‘no date’ in place of the year: (Mitchell, no date, p. 189).

Secondary Source Citation

In this case, state the reference you used first followed by ‘cited in’ and the original author:

Smith 2000 (cited in Mitchell, 2017, p. 189) or (Smith, 2000, cited in Mitchell, 2017, p. 189)

Citing Different Source Types

  • In-text citations remain quite constant across source types, unless mentioned explicitly, assume the in-text citation uses the rules stated above
  • Reference list references vary quite a lot between sources.

Citing a Book

Book referencing is the simplest format in Harvard referencing style. The basic format is as follows:

Mitchell, J.A. and Thomson, M. (2017) A guide to citation.3rd edn. London: London Publishings.

Citing an Edited Book

Edited books are collations of chapters written by different authors. Their reference format is very similar to the book reference except instead of the author name, the editor name is used followed by (eds.) to distinguish them as an editor. The basic format is:

William, S.T. (eds.) (2015) Referencing: a guide to citation rules. New York: My Publisher

Citing a Chapter in an Edited Book

For citing chapters, you need to add the chapter author and chapter title to the reference. The basic format is:

Troy B.N. (2015) ‘Harvard citation rules’ in Williams, S.T. (ed.) A guide to citation rules. New York: NY Publishers, pp. 34-89.

In-Text Citations: Chapter in an Edited Book

Use the chapter author's surname, not the editor.

types of citations
Learn about the different types of citations and then proceed to write your English essays. | Image source: LibGuides

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Citing an E-Book

To reference an e-book, information about its collection, location online and the date it was accessed are needed as well as the author's name, title and year of publishing.

If the e-book is accessed via an e-book reader the reference format changes slightly:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year Published). Title. Edition. E-book format [e-book reader]. Available at URL or DOI (Accessed: day month year)

This includes information about the e-book format and reader, for instance, this could be ‘Kindle e-book [e-book reader]’.

E-Book Example

Mitchell, J.A., Thomson, M. and Coyne, R.P. (2017) A guide to citation. E-book library [online]. Available at: https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager (Accessed: 10 September 2016)

Citing a Journal Article

The basic format to cite a journal article is:

Mitchell, J.A. ‘How citation changed the research world’, The Mendeley, 62(9), p70-81.

Journal Article Online Example

Mitchell, J.A. ‘How citation changed the research world’, The Mendeley, 62(9) [online]. Available at: https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager (Accessed: 15 November 2016)

Citing a Newspaper Article

Citing a newspaper article is similar to citing a journal article except, instead of the volume and issue number, the edition and date of publication are needed:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year) ‘Article Title’, Newspaper Title (edition), day month,

page number(s).

Note: edition is used only where applicable.

Newspaper Article Example

Mitchell, J.A. (2017) ‘Changes to citation formats shake the research world’, The Mendeley Telegraph (Weekend edition), 6 July, pp.9-12.

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Citing an Online Journal or Newspaper Article

To cite an online journal or newspaper article, the page numbers section from the print journal or newspaper reference is swapped with the URL or DOI the article can be accessed from and when it was accessed. So the reference for an online journal article is:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of article', Title of journal, volume(issue/season) [online]. Available at: URL or DOI (Accessed: day month year)

And the reference for an online newspaper article is:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year) ‘Article Title’, Newspaper Title (edition), day month [online]. Available at: URL or DOI (Accessed: day month year)

Citing Non-Print Material

Citing Online Photographs in Harvard Format

The basic format is as follows:

Photograph surname, initial. (Year of publication) Title of photograph [online]. Available at: URL (Accessed: day month year)

Online Photograph Example:

Millais, J.E. (1851-1852) Ophelia [online]. Available at: www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/millais-Ophelia-n01506 (Accessed: 21 June 2014)

Citing a Film

The basic format to cite a film is:

Film Example

Rear Window (1954) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock [Film]. Los Angeles: Paramount Pictures.

Citing a TV Programme

The basic format for citing a TV programme is as follows:

‘Fly’ (2010) Breaking Bad, Series 2, episode 10. AMC, 23 May 2010.

Citing Music

The basic format to cite an album is as follows:

Beyonce (2016) Lemonade [Visual Album] New York: Parkwood Records. Available at: https://www.beyonce.com/album/lemonade-visual-album/ (Accessed: 17 February 2016).

How to write a citation
Cite anything from music to academic journals using the Harvard referencing style. | Image source: Mendeley

Citing a Website in Harvard Format

The basic format to cite a website is:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year of publishing) Title of page/site [Online[. Available at: URL (Accessed: day month year)

Website Example

Mitchell, J.A. (2017) How and when to reference [Online]. Available at: https://www.howandwhentoreference.com/ (Accessed: 27 May 2017)

Harvard Referencing Generator

A Harvard Referencing Generator is a tool that automatically generates formatted academic references in the Harvard style. It takes in relevant details about a source (critical information like author names, article titles, publication dates, and URLs) and adds the correct punctuation and formatting required by the Harvard referencing style.

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The generated references can be copied into a reference list or bibliography, and then collectively appended to the end of an academic assignment. This is the standard way to give credit to sources used in the main body of an assignment.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.