Harvard Formatting and Style Guide

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15th May 2010

How to reference an essay or dissertation using Oxford or Harvard referencing

Footnotes and referencing are some of the most common problems students struggle with when preparing an essay or dissertation. You’ve written a fantastic piece of work, all your ideas are in order and you’ve referred to a great variety of relevant sources. Yet you face the frustration of losing vital marks if you fail to accurately and correctly reference your work , whether using the Oxford or Harvard referencing system. This simple guide helps to explain how to reference your essay or dissertation in either style.

What is referencing?

Referencing is the practice of ensuring that every time you cite a book or study (or indeed any piece of work) by another writer, you accurately inform your reader of your source. This prevents plagiarism or the idea that you might try to pass off other peoples’ theories as your own. It also shows a reader or examiner the extent of the research that exists to support your work and allows them to consult it themselves.

Different referencing methods

The first thing to be aware of is that there are several different accepted referencing methods , all of which have slight variations in format. This often causes a great deal of confusion, but the most important thing is to be consistent. You may well find that a specific referencing system is prescribed for a piece of work, but if not just make sure that whichever form you choose, you are consistent in using it throughout and keeping all your references uniform in format. Once you have decided how to reference, stick with that system throughout your essay.

Oxford and Harvard referencing – what’s the difference ?

Two of the most well-known and commonly used referencing methods are Oxford and Harvard referencing. These are the systems you are most likely to be asked to use for an essay or thesis and also the most widely recognised, so it is advisable to use one of these if you are choosing your own reference system.

The main difference between these two systems is that the Oxford method uses footnotes to place references at the end of each page, whilst the Harvard method includes certain information within the text.

There are many complex details involved in using these styles of referencing, which would be too numerous to list here, so it is highly advisable to consult an in-depth guide to how to reference correctly. The information below is intended to give an overview of the main points and some helpful advice to bear in mind when using them.

The Oxford referencing system

This form of referencing uses footnotes to present referencing information unobtrusively at the bottom of each page of text. A small number called a note identifier (usually formatted in superscript) follows any quote you use and refers to the number at the bottom of the page beside which the citation for that reference may be found.

Most computers have helpful functions to enable you to do this automatically without having to enter the numbers yourself, so if you go back to add an extra reference, the numbering will automatically adjust to take this into account. On any Microsoft Word document, simply click on the ‘Insert’ menu and select ‘Footnote’ (or ‘Reference’ and then choose ‘Footnote’ from the drop-down list).

Tip: Make sure you use a ‘footnote’ to place the reference at the bottom of the page, rather than an ‘endnote’, which will place it at the end of your essay.

What information should a footnote include?

A footnote should contain the following information, with the title of the book or work in italics and all other text in normal font: author initial and surname, title, publisher name, place of publication, date, page number. For example:

J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K, Vintage, London, 1998, p.47

Tip: You can usually find the publication date and place on the reverse of the title page inside the book.

If you use further references to the same text later on you can abbreviate subsequent footnotes to simply: author, page number.

The Harvard referencing system

The Harvard referencing system includes the author, the date of the work and the page number in brackets in the body of the text, immediately following the quote or reference. For example:

Depending on a company’s goals, there are a variety of reasons top management may decide to undertake cost controls; it could be for proven cost reduction (Corbridge, 1998, p.27) or to “improve corporate image in the environmental area” (Bozena, et al, 2003, p.45).

In the Harvard style, a bibliography of the all references is included as a separate section at the end of the piece of work to give full details of each text, including its title, publisher and place of publication.

Tip: If you have already used the author’s name as part of your reference, it is not necessary to repeat it in the brackets. For example:

As Corbridge (1998, p.27) suggests…

A final note…

This is by no means a complete guide to the intricacies of how to reference, but it is hopefully a helpful introduction to clear up the common confusion between the two main referencing styles. There are myriad possible tiny variants – for example in instances when a book has more than one author – so it is advisable to consult a guide or your editor or supervisor for clarification. Using the Oxford referencing system does not necessarily mean you will not also be required to include a bibliography. But there is always a bibliography in the Harvard referencing system.

Remember, the most important thing is to make sure that whatever stylistic decisions you make about your footnotes and references, they remain completely uniform and consistent throughout your essay or dissertation writing .

You may also like…

Mixed public perceptions of the civic university

Writing to inform

Essay structure: How to structure an essay

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  • harvard referencing
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  1. Home
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  3. Harvard Citation Style: A Detailed Guide from Experts

Harvard Citation Style: A Detailed Guide from Experts

May 28, 2015
Standard Essay Format

Harvard Citation Style: A Detailed Guide from Experts

EssayPro has composed this Harvard referencing guide to help you with formatting your custom essay in the AGPS Harvard referencing style. You can find out how to:

  • Format your paper in general,
  • Provide in-text citations,
  • Create a reference list.

Jump to the relevant section below instead of wasting your time on Harvard citation generator – it is not always accurate. Professional online writers from EssayPro will do better job!

Quick Citation help

Table Of Contents
  • What is Harvard Format?
  • General Paper Formatting Guidelines
    • General Rules
    • Title, Headers, and Page Numbers
    • Subheadings
    • Title Page
    • Outline
    • Reference List
  • Formatting Harvard In-Text Citations
    • General Rules
    • Different Types of In-Text Citations + Examples
  • Formatting the Reference List
    • General Rules
    • Books
    • Periodicals
    • Other Sources

What is Harvard Format?

Harvard citation style is one of the most popular formatting styles used in academic papers, along with APA , MLA , and Chicago . Harvard style dictates the general format of the paper, including the size of the margins, preferred font, etc. It also contains rules for citing sources—both in the text and in the list of references at the end of the paper.
Harvard referencing style is commonly used in the following fields:

  1. Humanities
  2. Behavioral sciences
  3. Philosophy

However, you may be requested to use the Harvard referencing system in other fields as well.

General Paper Formatting Guidelines

General Rules

  • 1-inch margins from all sides.
  • Times New Roman 12 pt. or Arial 12 pt. are the recommended fonts.
  • Double spacing between the lines.
  • The text is aligned to the left.
  • The first line of each paragraph is indented by 0.5″.
  • A title in the center of your first page right before the text.
  • Headers and page numbers (see below).
  • The paper may include subheadings (dividing it into sections), a title page, an outline (a plan of your paper), and/or a list of references (see below).

Title, Headers, and Page Numbers

  • Place a title before the text of your paper and make it center-aligned. Capitalize all the main words, for example: How to Write an Essay. Articles, short conjunctions, and prepositions are not capitalized. Do not make your title indented, italicized, underscored, or bold.
  • Include a page number in the header of your paper, in the top right corner of a page.
  • Place your last name in the header right before the page number.


Subheadings divide your paper into parts. For example, level 1 headings divide the whole paper into sections. Level 2 headings divide those sections into subsections.

  • Level 1 headings look just like the title of the paper. In other words, they are centered, capitalized, not bold, not underscored, not italicized, and not indented. After the heading, start typing your text on a new line as usual (indent the first line of your text by 0.5″).
  • Level 2 headings are also capitalized. However, they are flush left (aligned to the left margin of the paper). They are also italicized. After this subheading, also start typing your subsection on a new line as usual.

Title Page

The title page, also known as the cover page, is the very first page of your paper. It contains the basic info about it, namely:

  • The title of your paper, written in all caps. It should be centered and placed at approximately one-third of the way down the page.
  • Your name should be centered and placed at approximately halfway down the page.
  • At two-thirds of the way down the page, place the centered name and number of your course. Then (on the next line) your professor’s name, then (again on the following line) the name of your university, and, finally, the date on the line after that.

You can also find a template (with a title page, headers and subheadings) here .


An outline is a plan of your paper. It comes after the title page and lists all the subsections of the paper. So simply write the word “Outline” and place it at the center of the page, in the first line. Then list all your level 1 subheadings that you have in the paper (use a numbered list). Align them to the left, and capitalize them.

If you have level 2 subheadings, list them under the corresponding level 1 subheadings as bullet points. Be careful not to disrupt the numbering of your level 1 subheadings. Align the level 2 subheadings to the left, but probably indent them a bit (say, half an inch) for better appearance. Do not italicize them here, but leave them capitalized.

If you have done everything correctly, your outline should look like the one in the template above.

Reference List

Your list of Harvard references should be entitled “Reference List”. These two words should be capitalized and centered, just like level 1 subheadings. The list must contain a bibliographical entry for every source you cited in the paper. Conversely, each source cited in the paper must have a corresponding reference list entry.

Find out more about how to format your bibliographical entries below or just ask one of our professional writers for help.

boy with books

Formatting Harvard In-Text Citations

General Rules

  • Cite all your sources. When you use information from any sources in your paper, you must provide in-text citations to show where that info came from. Otherwise, your text will be considered plagiarized.

  • General appearance of in-text citations. In Harvard citation style, in-text citations are parenthetical, consisting of the author’s surname and the year of publication. They look like this: (Smith & Johnson 2018). You may also include the page number, like so: (Smith & Johnson 2018, p. 35).

  • Direct quotes. In Harvard referencing system, if you provide exact words from some source, you must place that quote in quotation marks, and give the page number in your in-text citation. If you quote a website, you need to include the number of the paragraph the words are taken from, like this: (Smith & Johnson 2018, para. 4). Just count the paragraphs on the web page you are citing.

  • Mentioning authors in the text. If you mention the name of the authors in the text, do not include it in parentheses. Also, use the word “and” instead of the ampersand (&). For example, you may write: In their book, Smith and Johnson (2018, p. 15) claim that jumping from a skyscraper might be bad for your health.

  • Citing an author discussed in a different source. If you are referring to an author who is discussed in a secondary source, you should mention the name of the original author, but state that this author is “cited in” the source you are using. For example, if Kraut discusses Plato, you can say:
    Plato believed that the existence of the soul is independent of the body it inhabits (cited in Kraut 2017).
    Note: in this case, you will have to provide a bibliographic entry for Kraut and not for Plato in the Reference List.

  • Several sources in one citation. If you wish to cite several sources in one set of parentheses, you should list them in the same order as they appear in your Reference List, and use a semicolon to separate them, like this: (Johnson 2015; Smith 2014).

Different Types of In-Text Citations + Examples

In Harvard referencing, in-text citations look different depending on the number of the authors in your source. We provide two Harvard referencing examples for each case: in one, the source is not mentioned in the text, and in the other, it is.

One Author

  • It is recommended to clean your teeth after dinner (Anderson 2015).
  • Anderson (2015) recommends cleaning your teeth after dinner.

Two Authors

  • Some students may actually enjoy writing papers (Ironicous & Sarcastish 2016).
  • According to Ironicous and Sarcastish (2016), some students may actually enjoy writing papers.

Three Authors

  • Gas giants do not have a hard surface (Peachy, Fluffy & Cozy 2014).
  • According to Peachy, Fluffy and Cozy (2014), gas giants do not have a hard surface.

Four or More Authors

  • Punishing children physically is considered an extremely harmful practice (Kickbutt et al. 2016).
  • Kickbutt et al. (2016) states that punishing children physically is an extremely harmful practice.

Edited Source

  • Disaster management is pivotal for lowering risks (eds López-Carresi et al. 2014).
  • According to the book edited by López-Carresi et al. (2014), disaster management is pivotal for lowering risks.

Note: in a parenthetical citation, if there is only one editor, use “ed.” before the name. If there are multiple editors, use “eds” (without a period) before their names. If you mention their names in the text, just say that the source was “edited by” before listing the name(s).

No Authors
If the authors of a source are not mentioned, use the title of that source in your in-text citation. Note that in Harvard system of referencing, the title is italicized for books, brochures, periodicals, and reports. However, the title is put in single quotation marks when you need to cite a website, article, newspaper, or chapter name. Only capitalize the first word of the title.
For books, periodicals, brochures, and reports:

  • Some people might work well under pressure (The psychology of pressure: an introduction 2010).
  • According to The psychology of pressure: an introduction (2010), some people might work well under pressure.

For newspapers, articles, chapter titles, and Web pages:

  • It is helpfully advised to act wisely in any situation (‘Ten brilliant tips to become successful’ 2011).
  • The article ‘Ten brilliant tips to become successful’ (2011) helpfully recommends to act wisely in any situation.

Also, you may shorten the title if it is too long. For instance, in the example above, you may write just The psychology of pressure (2010) instead of The psychology of pressure: an introduction (2010).

No Date
If there is no date in the source, use the abbreviation “n.d.” (no date) instead. All the other rules apply as usual.

  • It is stated that the Earth is large (‘The captain’s gazette’ n.d.)
  • One might not be surprised to learn that having a lot of money is better than having none, according to Allen (n.d.).

boy reading book

Formatting the Reference List

General Rules

  • Alphabetical order. Your Harvard reference list should be alphabetized according to the first letter of the first word of each reference entry (usually it’s the first author’s surname). However, if a reference entry starts with the words “a,” “an”, or “the,” ignore them and alphabetize according to the first letter of the next word.
    For instance, if you cite a source whose authors are not listed, and the entry starts with its title, e.g., “The importance of doing things well,” then you should alphabetize it according to the word “importance.”

  • Placement of entries. In Harvard reference system, each bibliographical entry must start from a new line. They are aligned to the left and not indented at all (which makes your reference list look like a total mess).
    Maintain double-spacing throughout your Harvard reference list.

  • Capitalization. In titles of books, book chapters, and articles from the Web, capitalize only the first letter. However, when citing scientific journals or newspapers, capitalize all the main words of their titles (i.e., not prepositions, articles, conjunctions, etc.).
    See specific Harvard reference examples below.

  • Referencing multiple authors. Even though in-text citations require you to use “et al.” when there are four or more authors in a source, you need to list all the authors in a bibliographical entry. Yes, all of them, even if there are 25.

  • Several works by the same author. In Harvard style reference list, sources by the same author should be arranged by the year of publication. If there are several works by the same author published in the same year, arrange them in the alphabetical order of their titles, and add letters “a,” “b,” “c,” etc. after the year, like so:
    Smith, JH 2014a, A big book, Big Book Publisher, London, UK.
    Smith, JH 2014b, A small book, Small Book Publisher, London, UK.

Note: This will let you differentiate between in-text citations: (Smith 2014a; Smith 2014b).

Check out an example of a Harvard reference list .


General Book Format
Last Name, Initials Year of Publication, Title of the book: subtitle of the book, if any, Publishing House, City, State Abbreviation or Country.

Book With One Author
Doel, M 2012, Social work: the basics, Routledge, New York, NY.

Book With Two Authors
Tschudin, V & Davis, AJ 2008, The globalisation of nursing, Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford, UK.

Book With Three Authors
Cretu, O, Stewart, RB & Berends, T 2011, Risk management for design and construction, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Book With Four or More Authors
Evans, J, Grimshaw, P, Philips, D & Swain, S 2003, Equal subjects, unequal rights: indigenous peoples in British settler colonies 1830s-1910, Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK.

Edited Book
López-Carresi, A, Fordham, M, Wisner, B, Kelman, I & Gaillard, JC (eds) 2014 Disaster management: international lessons in risk reduction, response and recovery, Routledge, New York, NY.
Note: if there is only one editor, use (ed.) after the name. If there are multiple editors, use (eds) after their names.

Book—Edition Other Than First
Field, A 2013, Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics: and sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, 4th edn, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Translated Book
Weber, M 2003, The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, trans. T Parsons, Dover Publications, New York, NY, original work published 1905.

Chapter in an Edited Book
Luna, EM 2014, ‘Community-based disaster risk reduction and disaster management’, in A López-Carresi, M Fordham, B Wisner, I Kelman & JC Gaillard (eds), Disaster management: international lessons in risk reduction, response and recovery, Routledge, New York, NY, pp. 43-63.

No Author
The Oxford dictionary of abbreviations 1998, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Doel, M 2012, Social work: the basics, Routledge, viewed 19 April 2018, via Google Books.


Journal Articles
Viñuales, JE 2013, ‘The rise and fall of sustainable development’, Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 3-13.

Conference Proceedings
Bingulac, SP 1994 ‘On the compatibility of adaptive controllers’, Proceedings of 4th Annual Allerton Conference on Circuit and System Theory, New York, NY, pp. 8-16.

Newspaper Articles
Waterford, J 2007, ‘Bill of Rights gets it wrong’, Canberra Times, 30 May, p. 11.

Online Newspapers
Matthews, J & Smithson, LW 2015, ‘The latest reform causes large-scale protests’, The Contemporary News Gazette, 11 August, viewed 26 April 2018, <www.website.com/articleone>.

Other Sources

Web Pages
Jameson, S 2017, Protests in Portugal reached unseen scope, viewed 27 April 2018, <www.website.com/articletwo>.

Blog Articles
Brown, A 2016, ‘How to Harvard reference a website and other sources’, Referencing: Harvard Style Blog, web log post, 20 June, viewed 26 April 2018, <www.website.com/blog/articlethree>.

Dissertation or Thesis

  • Print version:
    Reed, C 2013, ‘The experiences of leaders who took their lives in their hands’, PhD Thesis, The University of Modern Education.
  • Retrieved from the Web:
    Johnston, AC 2017, ‘A study of nursing leadership styles in the today’s clinical setting’, MSc Thesis, The University of Contemporary Nursing, viewed 25 April 2018, <www.website.edu/dissertationone>.
    Note: Do not forget to specify what type of thesis it is (BA Thesis, MSc Thesis, PhD Thesis, etc.).

Motion Picture (Movie)
The lord of the rings: the return of the king 2003, motion picture, Imagine Films, Auckland, NZ. Produced by Steve Pyke; directed by Peter Jackson.

Television Program
Stateline 2009, television broadcast, ABC TV, Canberra, 4 September. Presented by Chris Kimball.

Radio Broadcast
The book show 2009, radio broadcast, ABC Radio National, Melbourne, 19 November.

Essay Writing Help From Our Writers

When it comes to citing things using Harvard style or author-date style, it is crucial to check the specifics of this style with your instructor. Unfortunately, there is no official way. There are a couple of different schools that cite it such as the University of Western Australia and Cardiff University. In case your instructor is unavailable and can not provide you with the needed information, my advice would be to check out their websites and make sure you’re doing it right. No matter how you decide to do your citations, make sure to stay consistent in your formatting. In the Harvard citation style, you have more freedom to format your work the way you like. Choose the way you want to do it but stick to the point! Make safe choices when it comes to formatting your paper. For example, as the article states, using Times New Roman is recommended, but students can also choose Arial or Calibri. Best of luck with your essay!

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