Referencing - The Student Room

Find about about the different referencing systems and get help sorting them out for your essays and coursework.

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Harvard System

The Harvard system is the referencing system mostly used by scientists. It is an easy system to use and it also gives you a lower word count in essays compared to other systems. Most universities request the Harvard Referencing System to be used.

To Reference a quotation in the body of your work using this method you:

  1. Put quotation marks “...” around the section that you have taken from someone else’s work
  2. After the last quotation mark you put the reference in brackets. That includes the Surname of the writer, the year they wrote it and the page number you took the quote from.

It should look something like this:

“The power to shape and control social identity to determine the distinctions between themselves and others, was crucial to that predominance” (Kennedy, 1987: 109)

You then have to include the full reference at the end of your essay in a Bibliography.

Using the Harvard system the full reference requires:

  1. The surname and initial of the author
  2. The year of the publication
  3. The name of the book
  4. The edition number (If the book is on it's second edition or above)
  5. The location of the publication
  6. The name of the publishers

Which will look like this:

Kennedy, D. (1987) ‘Islands of White: Settler society and culture in Kenya and Southern Rhodesia, 1890-1939’ (2nd Edition) Durham: Duke University Press

The quote that I have given here is quite long so it should be separated from the body of your writing and indented

“The power to shape and control social identity to determine the distinctions between themselves and others, was crucial to that predominance” (Kennedy, 1987: 109)

Like this. However on some occasions you might want to reference only a few words, these can be included directly in the paragraph you are writing “like this” (Hancock, 2007: 15)

Obviously there are more materials that you will need to reference than just book. Below is a list of other references and examples for you to use as models.


You are quoting more than one book or paper by the same author published in the same year?

You use the suffix -a, -b, -c, etc. to distinguish been papers, in the order that you refer to them. For example:

(Thrift 1995a) (Thrift 1995b)

If the paper or book has two authors?

Give both surnames, the year of publication and the page number. List the names as they appear on the book:

(Murdoch and Pratt 1993, 412)

If the paper or book has three authors?

Give the name of the first author followed by ‘et al.’. Give the full details of all authors in the bibliography:

(Cloke et al. 1994)

If you are quoting two authors with the same surname?

Give the authors’ first initial as well as their surnames:

(M. Jones 1995) (N. Jones 1993)

If you are quoting from a chapter in an edited book?

Give the name of the writer of the chapter and then give full details of the book in the bibliography (see below).

(more to follow...) Source IGES Aberystwyth University

Websites also require referencing in a similiar way.

To reference a website requires:

  1. The Authors surname and initial
  2. The year of the publication/report
  3. The title of the website
  4. A note that it has been accessed online. This is done with [online]
  5. Where you obtained the information (website address)
  6. Date accessed

Which will look like this: Mooney, A. and Blackburn, T. (2003) Children's views on childcare [online] Available from: [6th June 2007].

If the website has no known author, simply skip to "The title of the website" and carry on from there.

When referencing documents, papers or book chapters that have not yet been published, the following conventions should be followed. These are generally less common, though they require the same systemisation as for 'regular' referencing.

  • For an article (chapter, etc) that is in a draft stage, cite (Pritchard in prep.) or (Pritchard in preparation). If more than one paper is in 'preparation' by the same author, use an alphabetic suffix as detailed above.
  • For an article that is in print (i.e., that has been sent to a publisher and accepted, but has not yet appeared in print), cite (Pritchard in press). Again, if more than one article is in 'press' follow the instructions outlined above.
  • If you are referencing a document that has not been published, or is not intended to be published but contains relevant information, cite (Pritchard n.d.), where n.d. refers to "no date".
  • If you are citing a correspondent, cite (Pritchard pers. comm.) or (Pritchard personal communication). The date of communication can be included, though it is not always necessary, as (Pritchard pers. comm. 18th May, 2010).

Numeric System

MHRA (Running Note Style)



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