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Always remember to check your references and citations before submitting them with your work. Always get your tutor or a university staff member to check your references before you submit your work.

Harvard Referencing Guide

Where did Harvard referencing come from?

The Harvard style of referencing is one of the most popular referencing styles used at universities throughout the UK. The style originated nearly 150 years ago by Edwards Laurens Mark in 1881. Mark was an anatomy professor and the zoological laboratory director at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He used an author-date citation in parentheses in a paper he wrote, which is thought to be the first time this style was used. Previously, citations had been done using footnotes with inconsistent styling that often made it difficult to follow. The Harvard style provided a uniform and consistent way of referencing sources from the bibliography in the text. While it’s thought that Mark saw the style used in a cataloguing system, he is still credited with the creation of the Harvard style of referencing and was honoured by students in 1903 for his hard work. The Harvard style made its way to the UK after an English visitor discovered the referencing style while visiting Harvard and named it after the university once he was back home.

There are two parts to Harvard-style references: the in-text citations and the reference list. The in-text citation contains the author’s name and the publication year, and the rest of the details such as title, edition, volume, or publishing city are part of the reference list.

In-Text Citations

Using the Harvard style reference, an in-text citation has the author’s surname and the publication year inside brackets at the end of the quotation or paraphrase. To make it easier for a reader to find the quote in the original text, you can also include the page or pages being referenced, but this is entirely optional. In most cases, the brackets appear right at the end of the quote or paraphrase, but if the quotation or paraphrase appears in the middle of a sentence, the citation can be placed at the end of the sentence, as long as a reader can quickly determine what information is being cited.  

The most straightforward Harvard style in-text citation will look something like this: ‘Quote’ (Author’s surname, publication year). If you decide to include a page number, it goes after the publication year like so: ‘Quote’ (Author’s name, publication year, p. 1). The Harvard style referencing uses p. for a single page number and pp. when referencing more than one page, for example: ‘Quote’ (Author’s name, publication year, pp. 1-3).

There are a few scenarios where your Harvard-style in-text citation will look slightly different such as if a source has no page numbers or multiple authors.

What to do if you don't have all the information

No Author or Date

Sometimes it’s unclear when a source was published or who it was written by. An example of this could be using a definition from the dictionary or a quote from a website that is updated frequently, like Wikipedia. In either of these cases, it’s still possible to cite the sources and guide readers to the reference list where they can find more about the source.  If you don’t have an author’s name, use (‘Divest’, publication year) and for no publication date (Author’s surname, no date).


The Author’s Name was Already Mentioned

If you use the author’s name in the sentence, it does not need to appear in the citation because the reader can still quickly determine what information is being cited and how to find the source on the reference list. An example of this would be: Author’s name says ‘Quote’ (publication date, p.1).


No Page Numbers

Many internet sources, such as websites, don’t have page numbers which can make it more challenging for a reader to locate a quote in the original text. If you’re citing a source with no page numbers using Harvard style referencing, you have two options for how to proceed. If the text is short and it wouldn’t be too difficult for someone to find your quote or the information paraphrased, you can simply just not include a page number: ‘Quote’ (Author’s name, publication year). If the source is longer or you’re concerned the reader wouldn’t be able to find where you’re pulling your quote or paraphrase from, you can use a subheading or paragraph number instead of the page number to help the reader to locate the correct information: ‘Quote’ (Author’s name, publication year, para. 2).


Multiple Authors

Many of the academic texts you’ll cite may have multiple authors, which changes how you reference the author’s name in your Harvard style in-text citation. If your source has two or three authors, you cite all of their names: ‘Quote’ (Author1’s name, Author2’s name, and Author3’s name, publication year). If it has four or more, cite the first author’s name and then use et al. in the in-text citation: ‘Quote’ (Author1’s name et al., publication year).


Multiple Citations at Once

Another situation you may run into with academic writing is paraphrasing multiple sources that make the same or similar point. An example of this would be summarising a point made by more than one study and referencing all the sources at once to strengthen your argument. This would be done by stacking the citations in order of publication date within the same set of brackets: Paraphrase (First Source Author’s name, publication year; Second Source Author’s name, publication year).


Multiple Sources with the Same Author and Date

Since Harvard style referencing uses both the author’s name and publication year in the in-text citation, it’s easy to distinguish which source you’re referring to, even if you use multiple sources written by the same author. But what happens if you use two (or more) sources written by the same author in the same year? Using Harvard style referencing, you can simply put an ‘a’ after the publication year of the first source and continue through the alphabet for each additional source the author wrote during that specific year. This can be used whether the two quotes or paraphrases appear one after another or a few pages apart.  

‘Quote1′ (Author’s name, publication year a).

‘Quote2′ (Author’s name, publication year b).

Reference List

The reference list appears at the end of your paper and provides the reader with the rest of the information they would need to find the sources you cited. The exact information included for each item on the reference list will differ slightly based on what type of source it is, and the available information, but traditionally, using the Harvard style referencing sources are listed as such:

Books: Author’s surname, first initial (publication year). Book title. Publication City: Publisher. 

Websites: Author’s surname, first initial (publication year). Webpage title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Date).

Journals: Author’s surname, first initial (publication year). ‘Article title’, Journal name, Volume (Issue number), page range. 

Similar to the in-text citations, there are several scenarios where the reference list entry for a source will look a little different than the standard version shown above.

No Author or Date

Much like the in-text citations, the reference list entry for a source with no author or date simply uses Divest or no date to let the reader know you don’t have that information. Both of these situations are most likely to occur with web sources where it can be more challenging to find this information given their layout and the fact that many are updated frequently. For a source with no known author, your reference would be: ‘Divest’ (publication year) Webpage title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Date) and no known publication date would be: Author’s surname, first initial (no date) Webpage title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Date). If you don’t have both the author’s name and publication date, your citation will use both Divest and no date to indicate that like so: ‘Divest’ (no date) Webpage title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Date). 

It’s important to note that you should still include the date you accessed the site if you’re missing the publication date for a website.

Multiple Authors

For sources with multiple authors, the reference list citations follow the same rules as the in-text citations. Sources with up to three authors list all the author names: Author1’s surname, first initial and Author2’s surname, first initial (publication year). Book title. Publication City: Publisher. and sources with four or more authors use the first author’s name and et al.: Author1’s surname, first initial et al. (publication year). Webpage title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Date).

Multiple Sources with the Same Author and Date

When citing multiple sources that have the same author and publication year, you must be consistent with your lettering between the referencing list and in-text citations so that the reader can find the quote or information paraphrased if necessary. The same as you did for your in-text citation, simply add ‘a’ after the publication year of the first source, then ‘b’ to the second and so on until you’ve addressed every source by a specific author for that year. On the referencing list, this will look like: Author’s surname, first initial (publication year a). ‘Article title’, Journal name, Volume (Issue number), page range. 

Author’s surname, first initial (publication year b). ‘Article title’, Journal name, Volume (Issue number), page range.