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Easy-to-Use Guide to Harvard Referencing Style

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by John Milovich

Being a college student you’ve probably faced a pile of tricky and challenging assignments requiring adherence to specific rules. Best guess, almost every learner was stumped trying to understand all the nuances of the peculiar style. But there is no need to lose your nerve even if you feel that writing a paper in Harvard is something that is over your head.

This style is commonly used in academic papers along with Chicago, APA, and MLA. Harvard referencing is typically used in philosophy, humanities, sociology, psychology, and other behavioral sciences. It dictates not only utilizing a specific font or margins but rules for citing the sources you’ve used to craft an essay or any other assigned college task.

We’ve composed this comprehensive guide to help you format any assignment easily. Let’s delve deeper into the details to get to grips with Harvard formatting.

The Basics

  • Set 1-inch margins from all sides.
  • Use Times New Roman or Arial12 pt and double-spacing.
  • Align the text to the left.
  • The title page should be center-aligned.
  • Create subheadings to divide your assignment into sections.
  • Add in-text citations and make a reference list (don’t confuse the last one with the bibliography).

Harvard or Author-date style will affect your assignment in:

  1. In-text citations in the body paragraphs.
  2. The reference list you’ll need to create at the end of your assignment.

The Reference List: How to Format

A complete list of the used sources should be created to allow the reader to look up the original sources if needed. A reference list must be created at the end of your paper on a separate sheet and be alphabetically organized by the last name of an author. If you don’t know the creator, then you need to alphabetize all the references according to the first letter of the first word ignoring such words as “the,” “a,” or “an.”

But what if you’ve used more than one work of the same author? Order them by the date. In case multiple works of one author were written in the same year, order them alphabetically by the title.

You’ve used a source written by five or six authors. How to properly reference such a source? List the authors alphabetically. All of them, even if their number is more than 15!

Example: Davis, M, Charles, L, Curry, MJ, Shanti, P, Prasad, S, Hewings, A et al. 2003, Challenging spatial norms, Routledge, London.

In-Text References: What You Need to Know

In order to avoid plagiarism in your essay or any other assigned college task, creating in-text citations is a must. You need to show the source you’ve borrowed information from. These references are much shorter than those you need to create in the reference list. In Harvard formatting style, they use the surname of an author and the publication year. A page number may also be included.

Example: Williams (1982, p.235) states or (Williams,1982, p. 235)

(You’ve used information from just one page, then use - p. Need to mention multiple pages, then use -pp.)

Two authors

Do you need to cite the source written by two authors? This is not a problem. Please, do as follows.

Example: (Miller, Heller and Morrison,1992, p.23)

More than four authors

In such a case, there is no need to state everyone, just write the surname of the first author and then add - et al.

Example: (Miller et al, 1992, p. 23)

No authors

If you failed to identify an author of the used source, use the tile for the in-text citation, and don’t forget about the italics.

Example: (A guide for students, 2021, pp. 289-235)

More than one work from an author written in the same year

If you cite two or more works by the author published in the same year, use letters a,b,c after the year.

Example: (Miller, 2021 a, p. 289) and (Miller, 2021 b, p.289)

Citing two works of the same author published in different years in one sentence

You’ve come across some sources created by an author but within different time-frames. Do as follows if you need to cite them in one sentence:

Example: (Miller, 2019, p.24; 2021, p.38)

No date

Failed to find the date or the source? This is not a problem. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention a source; just state “no date” instead of the year.

Example: (Williams, no date, p. 367)

All Nuances of Citing Books in Harvard

You’ve never faced doing assignments in Harvard, and best guess, you’ll feel a bit confused when hearing about this task from your professor. But this isn’t a reason for despair because the Devil is not so black as he is painted.

To cite a book, you’ll need to write the surname of an author, then initials, year of publication, the italicized title, edition, place of publication, and a publisher.

Delillo, D. (2003) Cosmopolis. 2nd edn. London: Picador.

Edited Books

Have no clue on how to properly cite an edited book consisting of multiple chapters created by different authors? Adhere to the reference format mentioned above, just with one slight difference, mention the surname of an editor instead of an author.

Irving, J. P. (eds.) (2019) World according to Kate. London: Black Swan

Chapters in Edited Books

Yes, it may happen that you’ll need to cite a chapter in an edited book. So, what format to follow? Write down the name of an author first, then add the year of publication, the chapter title without italicizing but using single quotation marks, the editor’s surname, book title, edition, publisher, and number of pages.

For example: Williams L.M. (2013) ‘The main rules of citing’ in Troy, L.K. (ed.) Rules for college students. London: L.Publishers, pp. 56-59

Citing an E-book

To add an e-book to the reference list, adhere to such an order:

Thomson. R. (2018) Full writing guide. E-book library. Available at: https://www.helpful tips.com…(viewed: 14 August 2011)

Journal Article Citing

Okay, you’ve dug enough books to complete the assigned task, but what about the journal articles? If you’ve come across relevant information, feel free to use it for writing your paper. To cite an article, write down the name of an author first, then goes the year, the title of an article, title of a journal or a newspaper, the volume specified outside the brackets, and the issue within brackets. The last thing to mention is the page.

Stevenson, B.D. ‘How we’ve changed the environment,’ The American Journal, 78 (11), p. 32-45

To reference an online journal article, you’ll need to add the URL of the website you’ve used to get the needed information. And don’t forget to mention the date you’ve accessed the online source.

Nuances of Citing Newspaper Articles

We’ve already explained how to cite journal articles. Good news! The ones in newspapers are cited almost in the same way. Just replace the volume and issue number with the edition and the publication date.

Adhere to such a flow: Surname and the initials of an author. (Year) ‘Title of an article,’ Title of the newspaper you’ve used, (edition), day, month, and a page number.

Check this sample: Davis,O.K. (2019) ’All you need to know about citations,’ The Scamfighter Telegraph (6th edition), 15 June, pp. 15-18

Need to cite an online newspaper article? Swamp the number of the page with the URL and the day you’ve used the source, so the reader can easily check the information utilized to create your paper.

Other Sources: How to Cite?

Referencing images and other non-print sources is often confusing for students. Should I reference the subject of the photo or an image? Should I add the information about the website? What if I use the photo I took myself? These and many other questions are bothering the minds of learners, and keep them up all night before submitting the assigned task.

This guide covers how to cite not only photos but films. You’ll get to grips with all the subtleties with ease, so referencing non-print material won't be a hard nut to crack for you.

Citing an online image

Write down the name of a photographer first, then add a year of publication, title of an image (it needs to be italicized), add a website where you found a photo, and don’t forget to mention the date you accessed an image.

Check this sample:

William, J. (2008) Sunrise. Available at: http://www.williamjoseph.co.uk.(Accessed:14 August 2010)

To make an in-text citation, write down the photographer’s name and a year of publication.

If you are the creator of an image, there is no need to provide a reference. However, clarify all the details with your tutor. Maybe you’ll be asked to adhere to such a flow:

Your name (year, when the photo was taken) italicized title of an image [Photograph]

Smith, J. (2021) The Sunrise [Photograph]

Citing films

Write the title of a movie, year of distribution, then add - directed by, name and surname of a director, format, place of distribution, and a company.

The Hangover (2009) Directed by Todd Phillips [Film] California: Warner Bros.

Following our detailed guide, you’ll craft a superior quality Harvard Style paper worth the paeans of praise even if your professor is a tough grader!