A Guide to Providing References in Harvard Style

August 23rd, 2021

Reading time about 13 min

While writing a piece of content, any writer would try his or her best to make it free of plagiarism. There are a lot of steps to avoid plagiarism, and among them the most important step is to document your references, which is also called citations. However, this is also the part where most writers get confused. One of the major causes for this confusion is the presence of different style guides. One cannot just pick one style of citation and carry on. Each type of paper or article must be cited in a specific style. This is why this article focuses on explaining how to provide reference in Harvard style.

Harvard University

About the Harvard Style of Referencing

The Harvard referencing style is one among the widely used styles of citations. As the name suggests, this style was used in the Harvard University in the year 1881 and since then, it has become quite a well-known method to cite academic papers over the years. The Harvard referencing style falls under the parenthetical referencing style, along with the other two popular styles, the APA style and MLA style. Like other parenthetical styles, the Harvard style also has two parts to it. The first is the in-text referencing and the second is the referencing list included at the end of the content or paper.

How to Cite in the Harvard Style?

While citing references under a specific style, you have to make sure that you follow the guidelines. According to those provided by the Harvard University, you need to consider the following:

  • In-Text References: As we know already, this referencing style has two parts and one among them is textual references. It essentially means that the references will be included in parenthesis after the line quoted from the reference material. The rules to be followed while providing text citations are:
  • Author Name: As this is an author date method of citing, it must include the author surname. There are two ways of doing this. One way is to explicitly use the author’s name in your content, for example “Parker (2011) wrote in his book….”. The other method is to use it within a parenthesis like so: “… (Parker, 2011).
    • Date: In the examples given above, there are years included in the citations. These are the years on which the book or journal article was published. If the author year is not available, but you know that it is published, then you can provide the year at which it is likely to be published followed by a question mark.
    • Authors with the Same Surnames: If the authors have the same surnames, then, it is best to provide the first letter of their first name as an initial. This way it will be easier to distinguish names.
    • Page Number: Adding a page numberis optional when it comes to this style. If you are adding it, then, the page number must come after the publication year.
    • Using “Et al”: This notation is used when the reference material is authored by more than three authors. In this case, one may provide the surname of the first author of the book followed by “et al”.
    • Citing More than one work: There might be circumstances when a single idea or opinion is quoted from two or more different authors’ works. Here, you need to provide the names of both the authors, and they must be arranged in chronological order of their year of publication.
    • Citing Works by Organizations: There are a lot of articles and research papers published by various organizations. While citing such works you need to provide the full name of the organization responsible of authoring the work unless the organization is well-known.
research paper writing

These are a few important things that an author has to keep in mind while giving textual references.

  • Reference List: The second part of the Harvard referencing style is the reference list. The Harvard reference list has to follow certain parameters which are listed below:
  • Alphabetical Order: The first rule you need to follow while documenting your citations is to arrange your references in an alphabetical order of the author’s surname. If there is no author name available, then one may order it based on the title of the book.
    • Position in the Paper: The reference list must be provided after the content of the document. Make sure that you allot a separate page for the list.
    • Format: Each reference in the list should include the author’s surname, year on which the book was published, title of the book in italics, paper or article, title edition and issue number, if available, publisher, accessed day of the reference material, and the URL or DOI whichever is applicable. These are the things that each reference should have.
    • Citing Websites: When you cite a website, you must add the URL of the website. The URL must be enclosed within angular brackets (‘<>’). If the website does not provide the author’s name, then you can put the website name in the place of the author’s name.
    • Format of access date: The access date is the exact day on which you viewed the reference material and must follow the day month year format.

These are the guidelines provided by Harvard, which one must follow while providing citation and reference. Writing research papers is one of the common things that we do from our days at school. Most academic institutions do their best in conveying the importance of avoiding plagiarism in their assignments. However, it is important to know how to quote your references in various styles as papers on some academic fields demand certain styles of referencing. With the guidelines provided in this article, you can provide a valid reference in Harvard style.

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