How to do Harvard Referencing: A complete guide

Are you having trouble getting your head around Harvard referencing? Well, have no fear, we are here to help. Understanding how to do Harvard referencing is essential as it is commonly used throughout academic literature, and you will have to use it in your own assignments. In fact, it’s the most common reference style used in universities in the UK! Although Harvard referencing sounds somewhat daunting, it is one of the easiest referencing formats to understand and carry out. At the beginning of university, I struggled with Harvard referencing. However, over time it became easier to understand. So just follow this simple guide and Harvard referencing will be a breeze.

What is referencing?

How to do harvard referencing

Although many students view referencing as tedious (including myself), it is extremely important. It is used in academic writing to inform the reader on where the sources you have used in your assignment have originated from. Moreover, referencing is helpful whilst at university as it is used throughout academic literature. Therefore understanding referencing helps you find sources within other pieces of work. In addition, referencing ensures that you avoid any form of plagiarism which otherwise could lead to penalisation in your work. Using other academic sources allows you to create a more convincing argument that is supported by journals, articles, books, etc. Referencing includes in-text citations, which is citing the source amongst your written work.

Also, it includes a bibliography which is a list of all your cited sources that you present at the end of your work. Using several academic sources means that you should pick up good academic practices and those can be reflected in your work. Therefore, referencing is important as you avoid plagiarism, your work is supported by evidence from academia, and it encourages good academic practice.

How to Harvard reference?

Harvard Referencing may sound intimidating but, it only consists of two simple elements!

The first element is the in-text citation

This indicates where information from a source has been used. This can be quoted or paraphrased. The in-text citation includes the author, year of publication and the page number if you have directly quoted. For instance, ‘“the sky is murky from all the clouds” (Smith, 1992, p. 26)’ or just ‘the sky is cloudy (Smith, 1992)’. These are examples of typical in-text citations. The first example is a direct quote from the source whereas the second example is how you would present in-text citation for paraphrases. In-text citations appear at the end of the summarised information or at the end of a quote. If you use the author’s name in the sentence already, put the year of publication next to their name in brackets. For example, ‘Smith (2009) argues that the sky is blue’. It is important to note that in-text citation is included in the word count

The second element is the bibliography

This is a list of all references that have been used throughout your assignment. This appears at the end of your assignment. This should contain all the cited references and bibliographical information of each source. It should be presented in alphabetical order of the author’s surname and the first letter of their name should follow. For example, John Smith would be presented as Smith, J. in the bibliography. Harvard referencing changes according to the type of source. However, generally, the bibliography should include the author, year, the title of the source, publisher, page range, city and edition. It is important to note that if the source is from online, regardless of the source type, you should include the URL and the date you accessed the source.

Tips and useful resources

How to do Harvard Referencing: A complete guide

These tips and tricks will keep Harvard Referencing simple!

Firstly, it is important to note that many universities have their own guidelines for Harvard referencing so, make sure you look at your universities’ resources and expectations. Also, Harvard referencing is added to the word count, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on the way you look at it. Some like that the referencing is part of the word count since that means you can write less in your assignment. However, others dislike it when referencing is part of the word count as it does not give you the space to further explore your ideas. Regardless of what category you fall into, you must be aware that Harvard referencing totals into your word count. So make sure you keep an eye on it.

Throughout my academic year, Citethisforme has been an extremely useful resource in making referencing easier. All you have to do is search the source that you are using into the search bar on the website, and they provide you with the in-text citation as well as the reference for the bibliography. In addition, Scibbr is another useful source that clearly outlines the dos and don’ts for Harvard referencing. However, be aware that these citations provided may have to be altered to suit the guidelines of your university.

So, now you know how to Harvard Reference…

Hopefully, this complete guide to Harvard referencing has provided you with useful tips and has shown you that it is not as intimidating as it appears to be. By following these simple steps listed, you will without a doubt improve your Harvard referencing skills. Good luck with your academic year and assignments. Plus, if you’re struggling to stay motivated during revision- check out our tips!

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