A Comprehensive Guide To Harvard Reference Structures


Writing an academic paper means you’ll have to consult multiple books, journals, articles and other sources to conduct proper research. Therefore, whenever you come across an idea or information that you need to incorporate in your work, it is essential to acknowledge the information’s source.

This acknowledgment of the contribution of other writers helps to uphold their intellectual property rights. As a student, you’ll have to draw on the ideas of multiple scholars and writers to provide support or evidence behind a specific idea that you want to emphasise. Therefore, adding the correct referencing substantiates your claims and shows off your knowledge of the topic.

What Are The Common Referencing Styles?

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There’s no shortage of styles that you can use to provide references in your work. Sometimes, these depend on the subject of the paper. For example,

  • APA referencing style – You’ll see occur commonly in subjects like Education, Sciences and Psychology
  • AGLC referencing style – This is a footnote citation style for identifying legal sources
  • MLA referencing style – This is a standard format in Humanities
  • Chicago referencing style – Business, History and Fine Arts use this style most frequently

Each of these styles is unique and follows specific rules that set them apart. Hence, the mark of a good reference is to follow these Aglc referencing formats correctly without mixing them up.

The Harvard Citation Style

The Harvard style of reference is another widespread format that follows the author-date system in two places: the in-text citations and reference list at the end of the paper.

Some general guidelines you should remember are:

  • Every text that you refer to in your paper should have a corresponding reference
  • All authors in in-text citations should be present in the final reference list
  • All works that you reference in the reference list must appear in the main text
  • It would be best if you were careful of all full stops and commas
  • Every quote or paraphrase should have an accompanying citation

Now that you have an idea of the basic referencing rules you need to follow let’s dive into more details of each section.

1. In-Text Citations

You have to include in-text citations during two situations

  • When you directly quote a phrase, sentence(s), or word(s) from another source
  • When you paraphrase from a book, article, journal, etc.

In-text citations are not as detailed as you have to write them in the main body of your paper. In the Harvard referencing style. You have to include:

  • Author or editor’s surname
  • Publication year
  • Page number(s)

For example, in the case of author James Richards, the in-text reference would be Richards (2018, p. 32) or (Richards, 2018, pp. 32-34)

a. What to do when there are two or three authors?

Sometimes two or three authors co-write a book or academic paper. In such cases, you have to include all their surnames.

For example, Richards, Grey, Clive (2018, p. 32) or (Richards, Grey, Clive, 2018, p. 32)

b. What if there were four or more authors?

You don’t have to include the names of all authors when there are four or more. Instead, you can add ‘et al’ after the first author’s surname.

For example, Richards et al (2018, p. 32) or (Richards et al, 2018, p. 32)

c. What if there are multiple works by the same author in the same year?

If an author has multiple works released in the same year and you have to reference them in your paper, it’s best to allocate alphabets to distinguish them properly. These alphabets will come after the publication year.

For example, Richards (2018a, p. 32) or (Richards, 2018b, p. 32)

2. Reference List

A reference list contains the entire collection of resources that you referred to in your paper. Unlike the in-text citations, this section includes all the crucial details you need to know about the reference to identify it correctly, such as the author’s name, publication year, source title and more.

Some rules that you have to maintain in the reference list following the Harvard citation generator format are:

  • The list of references should be on a separate sheet of paper at the end of the document
  • Organise the list alphabetically according to the author surname
  • Maintain double-spacing 
  • Ensure to include the full references for all in-text citations

This reference list is crucial if you want to avoid plagiarism in your paper. Moreover, proper referencing helps the reader to consult the sources for more information if they require it.

How To Cite Different Types Of Sources?

When you have to work on your paper, there’s a high chance that you’ll have to gather information from books, journals, articles, e-books, and other formats. Therefore, when citing them in the reference list, you have to follow some particular rules.

1. When citing a book

Citing a book is perhaps the simplest of all Harvard references. It follows the format:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year published) Title. Edition. Publication place: Publisher.

For example, Richards, I.B. and Maddison S.A. (2018) Key Elements of Citation. 2nd Edn. London: London Publishers.

2. When citing an e-book

Due to the advantage of technology, you can easily find e-book versions of rare and expensive sources to improve your paper quality. They follow the format:

Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year published) Title. Edition. E-book collection name [online]. Available at: URL or DOI (Accessed: date month year)

For example, Richards, I.B. and Maddison S.A. (2018) Key Elements of Citation. 2nd Edn. E-book library [online] Available at: /key-elements-of-citation (Accessed: 14 August 2020)

In case you access the e-book via an e-book reader, online needs to be replaced with an e-book reader.

3. When citing a journal

Another common source of information is journals. These follow the format:

Author name(s). (Year) ‘Title of article’, Title, Volume (issue/season number), page numbers

For example, Richards, I.B. and Maddison S.A. (2018) ‘The Importance of Citation’, Key Elements of Citation, 62, pp. 39-40

4. When citing a newspaper article

A newspaper article follows a similar format to a journal. However, you have to include the edition and publication date instead of the volume or issue number. The format is:

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

For example, Richards, I.B. (2018) ‘Citations: The crux of the academic world,’ The Telegraph (Weekend edition), 5 July, pp. 45-46

While there are plenty of other formats according to the source, these four are the most common ones you’ll encounter while working on your paper.

Summing it up,

All universities and colleges require you to write proper references, mentioning all the details of the works that helped you write your paper. Among the various referencing types, the Harvard citation follows the author’s name and publication year referencing style within a document to show that you have used legitimate sources in your work. As long as you follow the format in this blog, you don’t have to worry about messing up your references and losing grades.

Author bio:

David Logan is an esteemed professor from a reputed university in the UK. Currently, she is working hard on her upcoming book on Renaissance literature. In addition, Jones loves to attend period dramas and has a soft spot for baking on weekends.


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