Harvard Referencing

Harvard Referencing

As the name implies, the Harvard referencing system was first developed at Harvard University. Over time the style has been adapted and used by universities across the world. What you will see is that many universities have made changes to the system, to better suit their own needs. While this guide will cover how the Harvard referencing system works in its original form, you will still need to check with your individual university’s Harvard referencing guide, to ensure you are doing it the way that you have been asked.

In Text Citations

When referencing an author in text with the Harvard referencing system, you will typically show that source with the author surname and the publication year in brackets. Depending on your particular Harvard referencing guide, you may also need to add a page number. Again, you will need to check your referencing guide with your university to make sure you’re using the correct style.

When adding this citation to an in text source, it can be used either after the sentence you have written, or in the sentence itself. As such the citation can look like the following:

Anderson (2005) asserts that distance learning is just as effective as in class learning.
It is clear from research in recent years that distance learning has become just as effective as in class learning (Anderson, 2005)
There are some researchers such as Anderson (2005), that assert that distance learning is effective, while other researchers, such as Smith (1999), say that in class will always be the most effective learning environment.

Reference List Citations

At the end of your essay you will need to include a full list of all the sources that you have referenced in your work. When using the Harvard referencing system, you will include the full details of the source. Typically, this should include all the sources alphabetically by author surname.

A regular citation for a book will look like the following:

Author surname, author’s first initial. (Year of publication). Name of publication. Location of publication, publish a name.

As such a citation for a book using the Harvard system would look like the following:

Anderson, J. (2005). How Distance Learning Is Changing The Way We Learn. London, Harper Collins.

There are several different types of sources that you would typically use if you are using the Harvard referencing style. This can include edited books, interviews, journal articles or papers, newspapers or magazine articles common or websites. This will mean your reference lists citations will look slightly different, depending on the sources you have used.

Chapters in edited books

For example, if you have used a chapter from an edited book, your citation would look like the following:

Chapter author surname, initials. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. Editors surname, initials (Ed/Eds.), Title of edited book. Place: Publisher name, pp. page numbers

So your reference for an edited book would look like the following:

Anderson, J (2005). The Importance Of Distance Learning. Drew, S (Ed.), How We Learn. London: Harper Collins, pp. 34-46


In your research for writing your essay, you may have carried out interviews. These will need to be referred to in your reference list as well. When creating a citation for these interviews, remember that you will need to preserve interviewee confidentiality. If you are required to include the full transcript of the interview, you’ll also need to include signposting to that transcript in your appendix. As such your citation should look like the following:

Name, initials (Year of interview). Interview. Location of interview, with interviewee name, date of interview (Appendix number.)

As an example, your reference could look like this:

Peterson, D (2023). Interview. At the University of Birmingham, with S. Carmichael, 2nd April 2023 (See appendix 1)

Journal articles and papers

Journal articles and papers are another very common source that you will use in writing your essays. The way you reference these are fairly similar to how you would reference a book. As you are most likely to reference a journal that you have read online, you will need to ensure you add in the dates you accessed it. Of course, if you are using a physical journal, you will not need to do this. Your journal reference in your reference list will look like the following:

Author surname, initials. (Year of publication). Title or article or paper. Name of journal, volume(issue), page numbers. [Online]. Available at: DOI [Accessed day, month, year]

So as an example, your reference for a journal article or paper will look like the following:

Harrison, P (2022). The Effects Of Distance Learning On Education. Early Years Education, 11(03), 246-286. Available at: DOI 10.4658/S13690543 [Accessed 6th July 2023].

Newspaper or magazine article

Newspapers and magazine articles may also be used in essays that use the Harvard referencing system.  The way you reference these articles will depend on a few different factors, such as whether the article’s author is listed. If you know the name of the author, the article will be referenced like so:

Author surname and initial. (Year of publication). Title of article. Name of newspaper/magazine. Day month year, pp. Page numbers.

So if you were to use this in your reference list, the reference itself would look like this:

Anders, J. (2005). Distance Learning And Its Effect On Education. Guardian. 11th March 2005, pp. 33-34.

What if there’s no author listed for the article you want to use? In this instance, you can reference the article like so:

Name of publication (year). Title of article, day month year, pp. page numbers.

Online articles

Finally, a common source that you would use in your essays, when using Harvard referencing, is online articles or websites. Again, these will have a slightly different referencing style in your reference list at the end. When referencing an online article your reference should be laid out like so:

Author surname, first initial (year of publication). Name of specific webpage. [Online]. Name of full website. Last updated: day month year. Available at: URL [Accessed day month year].

So if you have a website and an article that you know the author of you would reference it like so:

Anderson, J (2005). Research On The Effectiveness of Distance Learning. [Online]. Education Today. Last updated: 30th August 2023. Available at: educationtoday.co.uk [Accessed 12th September 2023].