What Is… Harvard Referencing?

‘Referencing’. You’ll hear this dread word a lot over your time at university. By far the most irritating thing about doing essays, a reference is added information showing where you obtained your research from. It is required in all essays. You must provide references for books, journals, lectures, blogs and even videos.

Remember to always keep a separate document including all the sources you’ve used – e.g. books, websites, journals – and the references to them to add to your bibliography instead of rushing through it at the end.

There are many different forms such as Footnotes, Oxford, Chicago and OSCOLA (used for Law). One of the most common is the Harvard style. Harvard cites the sources throughout the text rather than using a reference number, like this ‘[1]’.



Citation is the the in-text reference.

For in-text citations, you will need to include the direct quote and following it, add the authors surname and first name initial, date of the text and page number in brackets.

You can also reference before the quote in sentence. When doing this, you simply use the authors surname and the date with page number (if applicable) will proceed in brackets.

For example, you may cite as follows:

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” (Alcott, L. M., 1994, p3.)


Alcott (1994, p3) writes the girls to be upset with their poverty when it comes to celebrations, implying they are missing out; this is evident in the phrase “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.”

The latter is good for adding your secondary research e.g. journals, reviews and what others have said. The first is more suitable for direct quotes from text.

If a book has two authors, simply use both of their names e.g. Kardashian, K and West, K. If the source has more than two authors, you’ll have to shorten it to the main author (or whoever is first alphabetically) and construct it as Jolie, A et al. (‘Et al’ is Latin for ‘and others’.)



Referencing details all information used and is included in the bibliography of your piece. Remember that your bibliography should always specify the authors surname and first (and middle) name initials. It should also be in alphabetical order and uniform with place of publisher and who published the book.

The template is as follows:

Surname, Initial. (Date of publication). Title. Place of publication: Name of publisher. Page numbers used/date accessed.

For the citation above, its bibliography reference would be:

Alcott, L. M. (1994). Little Women. New York: Pocket Books. P3.

Lecturers also love journals. They are extremely good for finding reviews and comments from academics. Journals aren’t the most fun of things to refer to but they get easier the more you do. Here’s a template:

Surname, Initial. (Date of publication). ‘Article title’ in Journal title. Volume(Issue). Page numbers used.

If you’re referencing a website, just use the name and date for in-text citations e.g. ‘WordPress. (2015).’ In the bibliography, it should look as follows:

Surname, Initial. (Date of publication). Title. Place of publication. Date accessed.

With websites, be sure to include the link to the page and the date accessed so your marker may check the site out if need be. Missing information and sloppy referencing may result in you losing marks. Make sure it’s top-notch so you secure some points for that.

There are plenty of websites to help you out and engines that form the reference for you, so long as you supply the correct information. Universities recommend a good list of references to support your evidence, show you have done research and demonstrate how you can apply other relevant information to your essays and arguments.

Don’t forget to reference Inspiring Interns when you get your 1st!



Nikita studied English with Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Her loves include literature, travelling and writing. She is a spiritual soul and a bit of a wanderer. Stalk her on TwitterInstagram and on http://www.nikitamurva.com/!

Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for marketing internship roles and giving out graduate careers advice. To browse graduate jobs and graduate jobs Manchester, visit their website.