Harvard Referencing System: A very simple guide
Harvard referencing can feel like a foreign language to new students who’ve never used it before - here we explain that it really isn’t that bad.
Pepsi or Coke? X-Factor or Strictly? Oxford or Harvard referencing? These are the decisions that define who we are, sort of.
The latter, however, is by far the most important decision. How you reference in an essay can make all the difference - there are always a handful of marks for correctly referencing, and you don’t want to be missing out on a first for getting a few names or numbers wrong.
The Harvard referencing system has become the most commonly used in the UK, so to make sure you get the best grade possible we’re here to reassure you - it’s not that complicated. We promise.
Harvard Referencing: The rules
Essentially it works like this - whenever you reference someone else’s work you put their name in brackets in the text itself, and then at the end of the essay you list all the work you’ve referenced in full in the ‘References section’.
When you reference work from a specific page in a book you include the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number.
For example... “It has been claimed that reading studentbeans.com can make you wet yourself (Edds 2012, p. 73).”
If you want to mention the author’s name as part of the sentence simply put the year and page number in the brackets after their name.
For example... “Edds (2012, p.108) found that there was no end to how pissed off students get about incorrect use of grammar.”
If the book was written by two authors then just name both of them, with an ‘and’ in between them.
For example... “Edds and Jones-Morris (2012, p. 321) discovered that stories about cats will always be popular.”
If the book was written by three or more authors, name the first and signify the rest with ‘et al.’.
For example... “studentbeans.com is the greatest website in the world, ever, and all the others should just give up (Edds et al., 2012, p. 23).”
Harvard referencing works exactly the same for journals as it does for books, though naming the page number is not necessary. If several papers were published by an author in one year, differentiate them using lower case letters.
For instance the first journal they wrote that year would be called (Edds 2012a), the second would be (Edds 2012b), and so on.
Harvard referencing: The reference list
Rather than a bibliography, which can include sources that aren’t directly referred to within your essay, Harvard referencing lists all the source material in a comprehensive ‘Reference’ list at the end.
When you reference in full you need to start with the author’s surname (listed in alphabetical order), followed by their initial(s), the year of publication, the title of the book (in italics), the city of publication, and then the name of the publisher itself.
For example... Callwood, J. (2007). Why the editorial department is so good looking. London: Beans publishing.
When two or more authors wrote the book, do the same as above but listing all their names.
For example... Dalton, H., Davis, O. and Winlow, A. (1992a) How did the editorial department get so funny? Birmingham: I Need A Drink Publishing House.
When including a reference of a journal, do the same as above, but rather than the city and publishing house, just name the journal and issue number.
For example... Brann, O., Edds, R. and Jones-Morris, R. (2011) How we got so good. Science 836.
And finally, when citing a newspaper article do the same, but include the exact date of publication, the name of the article, and the name of the newspaper.
For example... Edds, R. (September 21, 2012) “I can’t think of any more office-based jokes”, The Guardian.
So, there you have it. It’s not so bad, right? And if you’re still a little confused, the best way of getting your head around it is to practice practice practice. The sooner you get the hang of it the sooner you can stop worrying about it, and just focus on the easy stuff like actually writing the essay...
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