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Harvard Referencing - A Quick Intro

Harvard Referencing is a form of citing sources in academic work. It was first devised at Harvard University, but has now become a standard used throughout the world. As well as the Harvard Referencing style, other standards include Chicago and MLA.

Save some time: You can use the Harvard Referencing Generator tool on this website to finish your referencing quickly.

Before you begin to use Harvard Referencing, you need to understand that there are two main reasons you cite your sources:

  1. To give credit to the author, for their effort in compiling it
  2. To allow the reader of your work to find out more information on the topic

The first part means that you avoid plagiarism - copying someone else's work, then claiming it as your own. You are allowed to quote other authors - in many cases you are expected to - but you must give enough information for the reader to double-check that they did, indeed, say that. Plagiarism is very serious, so its better to attempt to get the referencing right that to leave it out. You may lose marks for getting a citation format wrong, like missing a comma somewhere, but plagiarism may get you thrown out of the institution!

In Harvard Referencing, you use a basic form of the citation in the text itself. This is to prevent your essays becoming clogged up with reference details throughout. You then put the full details at the back in a bibliography. Effectively, the in-text citation is like a link to the bibliography at the back.

So, to make sure you are Harvard Referencing correctly, do the following:

1) Next to the relevant section of your text put the author and year the work was published like this:

There was widespread anger at the decision (Smith, 2009).

Alternatively, if you mention the author in the text itself, you don't need to mention them in the brackets again.

Smith (2009) warns that this can lead to misdiagnosis.

If you are using more that one source from the same author, from the same year, put a letter after the year to differentiate them (Smith, 2009b)

2) Create the full version of the referencing in the correct form. You can use the Harvard Referencing Generator tool on this site to do this.

3) List all of your references in your Bibliography section, normally the last page of your report/essay. Arrange alphabetically by author's surname.

Harvard Referencing can get quite complex, although there are many guides online to get your referencing correct. To further complicate things, some Universities use their own variant of the referencing system. Using the Tool on this site should save you some time.

Please note: this site, or the tool, is not associated with Harvard University.