Harvard referencing style

How to use Harvard referencing style

The Harvard referencing style is popular, particularly because it is flexible and easy to use. It is used in many parts of the world for a variety of disciplines, especially for economics. However, its adaptability means that different universities use different versions of Harvard. Therefore, it is important to consult your university’s style guide, and above all, to be consistent. 

1.In-text citations

There are two ways of presenting in-text citations, one is where you want to emphasise the information or argument, and the other where you want to emphasise the author.  

An example of the first is:

The experiment verified the hypothesis outlined in the previous chapter (Brown, 2015). 

The second is:

Although it has not been universally accepted, Brown (2015) claimed that the experiment verified the hypothesis outlined in the previous chapter. 

2. Citations according to the number of authors

Where one author is cited, is it simple:

Within the text: (Smith, 1998).

In the reference list or bibliography: Smith, W.A. 1996. A new way of understanding statistics. 2nd edn. University of Anytown Press.

Where there are two authors:

Within the text: (Evans and Parker, 2014)

In the reference list or bibliography: Evans, K. and Parker, G. 2014. (then as in the example above). 

Where there are three authors:

Within the text: on the first occasion: (Evans, Parker and Green, 1990).

                         on subsequent occasions: (Evans et al., 1990).

In the reference list or bibliography: Evans, K., Parker, G and Green R. 2014 ….. 

Where there are four or more authors:

Within the text (for every occasion): (Evans et al., 1990).

In the reference list or bibliography: Evans, K., Parker, G, Green R. and Murphy H. 2014 …..

Or: Evans, K. et al., 2014. … 

It should be noted that some variations of Harvard use ‘&’ instead of ‘and’, also that some versions italicise et al. It is important to check the style guide, and in all circumstances to be consistent. Whether it is italicised or not, et al. should always be followed by a full stop. 

2.Direct quotations

There are two ways of dealing with direct quotations in Harvard according to the length of the quoted text. A quotation of less than 40 words is included as part of a sentence and enclosed in double quotation marks. For example:

Williams (2009) asserts that, “The interview process will not be successful if fewer that 20 participants are interviewed” (p.62). 

Where a quotation is 40 words or over, the quoted words are indented and in a separate paragraph, but quotation marks are not used. For example. 

With regard to the interviews, Williams (2009, p.62) said: 

The interviews were not successful because only seven people participated. This sample was too small to give any kind of accurate result. It was also not sufficiently balanced; for instance, five were men and two were women. Moreover the age range was badly balanced, with six participants over the age of 50 and only one under 50. 

Please note that page numbers (as shown above) should be included in both short and long quotations. No attempt should be made to change any quoted text as this would be considered by the author to be misquotation. However, if the quoted text is paraphrased, the quotation marks should be removed but the meaning should be retained. Please note that some versions of Harvard may use single quotes rather than double ones. Again this shows the importance of consulting the style guide and maintaining consistency.  

3.Reference lists and bibliographies

Although reference lists and bibliographies have a similar purpose, they are not the same, and the terms are not interchangeable. A reference list gives details of all the works that you have made reference to in the text, while a bibliography gives details of all the works you have consulted in your research whether or not you have referred to them in the text. It is usually not necessary to include a reference list and a bibliography, so you should consult your university style guide as to which is required. In reference lists and bibliographies, the list should be in alphabetical order of the surname of the author. Usually the name of the book or article should be in italics, and also the date of publication and the date published as well as the name of the publisher should be included. Please see Section 1 (above). 

4.Other points

If you quote two (or more) works published by the same author in the same year, you should use the format:

Smith (2010a; 2010b) in the text.  

And in the reference list:

Smith W. (2010a). A guide to conducting and interview. Anytown University Press.

Smith W. (2010b). How to analyse the findings from an interview. Another University Press. 


McMillan, Kathleen and Weyers, Jonathan. 2013. How to cite, reference & avoid plagiarism at university. Essex: Pearson Education Limited. 

https://subjectguides.york.ac.uk/referencing-style-guides/harvard. [accessed 07.06.21].

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