Harvard Referencing Guide: How to reference using The Harvard System of Referencing at University.
Many students entering uni for the first time don’t feel properly prepared to write papers on a university level. One of the aspect many feel least prepared for is providing formal references in their work.
The Harvard System of Referencing dates from the 1880s, and is one of the most widely used in the UK today. This guide will demonstrate some of the most common ways to cite works using the Harvard system, and direct you to more in-depth guides for further study.
Referencing Text Citations
The Harvard System uses short in-text citations in parentheses, and a more detailed reference list at the end. The reference list is explained in another section of this guide, below.
For an in-text citation, you must list only the primary author’s name, the date of publication, and the page on which the statement can be found. The entire citation should be in parenthesis, and the three parts separated by commas.
Example: …as has been noted: “The so-called ‘canals’ on Mars are more properly referred to as superhighways.” (Von Horstmann, 1914, p.1a.)
How to reference books
Books with a single author should be referenced in-text exactly as explained above: the author’s name and date, separated by a comma, all in parentheses. The exception is when the author’s name appears in the text immediately before the reference, as in example 2 below.
Example 1: And we know that some sloths have three toes. (Johnson, 2012)
Example 2: …although, as noted by Johnson (2012), many sloths have four toes.
If a book has more than one author, names should be listed separated by commas and ‘and’ as per normal sentence structure.
Example 3: …and it is widely thought that the whole topic is irrelevant. (Johnson, Jonson and Johansen, 2010)
In your reference list, you must include the author(s) name and initials and the date of publication, followed by a period. Then the title of the book (in parentheses), the edition (unless it is the first edition) and the town or city of publication separated by commas. Lastly, add a colon and the name of the publisher.
Example 1:: Johnson, E., 2012. Toe Arrangements in Unusual Mammals, Wolverhampton: Two-Toe Press.
Example 2: Johnson, E., Jonson, A. and Johansen, D. 2010. Animals With Odd Feet, Wolverhampton: Two-Toe Press.
How to reference journal articles
Print Journals using the Harvard System should be referenced in the list with the author’s name and initials and the year of publication, the full title of the journal (in italics), separated by periods. Next add the volume number and page numbers, all separated by commas.
Example: Beeker, T., 2008. Never Be in a Children’s Book. Things We Already Knew, 6, p121.
In-text they are referenced normally.
Example: Polar bear fur isn’t actually, white, it is in fact clear. (Beeker, 2008)
Electronic Journals use the standard in-text reference, but your reference list entry should have the authors name and initials then the year of publication separated by commas, the title of article and the italicised title of the magazine or website, separated by commas. Next add the word online in brackets and Available at: (full web address URL) and the date you accessed it in brackets.
Example: Bovone, B., 2001. I Could Phone In a Better Article On Quantum Fluctuation, and Just Have. Omni
How to reference websites
Referencing websites is very similar to online journals. In-text, use the author and year as normal. In your reference list, include the author (or source), a comma, and the year of publication. Next the full title of the web page or document in italics followed by a period. Insert the media type in brackets, the date of any updates in parentheses, and Available at: (full URL) followed by the date you accessed it in brackets.
Example: The Onion, 2014. New Biodiversity Program Busses in Species From Outside Ecosystems. [online] Avaiable at:
Creating the Reference List
Your reference list is a more detailed account of the works you have cited, which will allow a reader to research the matter themselves. The works should be listed in alphabetical order by author, and not divided between different types of media.
Below is a reference list for all of the (fictitious) items referred to in this guide.
Beeker, T., 2008. Never Be in a Children’s Book. Things We Already Knew, 6, p121.
Bovone, B., 2001. I Could Phone In a Better Article On Quantum Fluctuation, and Just Have. Omni Schmomni, [online] Available at:
Johnson, E., 2012. Toe Arrangements in Unusual Mammals, Wolverhampton: Two-Toe Press.
Johnson, E., Jonson, A. and Johansen, D. 2010. Animals With Odd Feet, Wolverhampton: Two-Toe Press.
The Onion, 2014. New Biodiversity Program Busses in Species From Outside Ecosystems. [online] Avaiable at:
Von Horstmann, M., 1914. Fostering Greater Misperception of the Celestial Spheres. Fortean Times, 1 April p. 1a.