Welcome to your first year of university where you are expected to use the Harvard referencing method to reference the sources that you have used when writing your essays. This can seem awfully daunting, especially since you have not been accustomed to using the Harvard referencing system during your high school years. In order to prepare yourself for using the Harvard referencing system, you need to make sure that you don't need help writing good academic essays. To become better at writing formally, familiarize yourself with certain words that will make you appear much smarter.

When you need to write a well-researched essay, you cannot forget the importance that perfect grammar plays in your essay. Perhaps read the article on how to improve your grammar. You also need to ensure that by the time you reach your first year of university, you can already write better essays.

While it may be difficult at first to get to grips with mastering Harvard referencing, in time the Harvard reference system will become second nature to you.

The key to mastering the Harvard referencing system is to find real-life examples of the Harvard referencing system being used and checking from these examples what is expected of you when referencing.

We are here to guide you so that you can become an expert at using this system of referencing both within your essay and in the form of a reference list at the end of your essay.

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Referencing in Essays

If you learn anything from this guide, may it be that it is vital to make mention of the author whose work you are choosing to use. Keep this in mind as the reason for referencing in the first place.

The first thing you need to focus on getting right is citing the author.

Authors

The person who has written a book or an article is called the author. Almost all citations will refer to something that has been written by an author.

When writing a research-based essay, you cite a source when referring to the exact words written by the author or when you reword a point that was made by a specific author.

So how do you cite an author in the text?  You only need to make mention of the author’s surname when you are doing in-text referencing. Do you only need to know the author’s surname?

In the reference list, you will include more information about the author thus you may need to know more than just the author's surname.  This reference list is a list with the details of all the authors whose work you have used within your essay.

In this list, the authors' surnames are written in alphabetical order. Based on the surnames, you will expect, “Moyes”  appearing after, “Darke” in a reference list.

If a certain author has written more than one book or article and you use both, reference the texts written by the author in chronological order in terms of the year in which the texts were published.

More About Citing Sources in an Essay

Stack of books
Nailing the basics of Harvard referencing is half the battle.

In order to correctly cite a source, you need to make mention of the date on which the source was published.

While writing your essay, you need to make mention of the author’s surname and the year the author published his or her text.

For example: According to Pearse (2011)

If you quote an author’s exact word, make sure to mention the page that the quote was found from in the book.

For example, Pearse, 2011, p.3.

Page Numbers

As mentioned above, the page number is important for citing the exact words that were written by the author.

You must remember that quotation marks ought to be used for direct quotes. After the quotation, within brackets, you need to write the author’s name, publication date, and lastly mention the page number from which the quotation was taken.

Sometimes you cannot find the page number for a particular quote. In that case, the abbreviation, ‘n.p,’ can be used to stand for no page number.

Format of Harvard Referencing

Part of getting Harvard Referencing correct is knowing the basics like the fact that you need to take note of the authors, dates of publication, and also the page number whereby quotes are taken from.

To perfect the format of Harvard referencing, you need to know the format for referencing different sources.

When you include a book or article in the reference list, you use a different format for both publication types.

With the rise in popularity of online mediums, you need to know how to reference an online source too.

Citing Books

The reason many students enjoy using books as a source of information is that books are easy to cite as references.

You may notice that some books have many authors. This becomes slightly harder to reference but still manageable.

Books with a Single Author

This can easily be cited in the following format:

Surname,  First initial. (Year). Title of book. Edition (if applicable). Publication city: Publisher.

Multiple Books by the Same Author

For multiple books by the same author, you just cite the sources as per the format shown above.

However, you must remember to state the dates when the different books by the same author were published in chronological order.

In the rare case that the same author published two books in the same year, write alphabets like, “a,” and “b” after the date to indicate which published book was published first during the year.

Chapter in a Book

If you are using but a chapter within a large textbook, follow the format listed below:

Surname, First initial. (Year). Chapter title. In: Editor’s name (ed) Book Title. Edition. City of Publication: Publisher. Page number/s.

Citing Books with 2 to 3 Authors

For books that have several authors, all you need to do is add the second and/or third names next to the first.

Surname, First intial., Surname, First initial., and Surname, First initial. (Year). Title. City of publication: Publisher.

Books With Many Authors

When referring to a book with multiple authors, use the main author’s name in an in-text reference and add, “et al” next to the author’s name. This lets everyone know that more people were involved in writing the book.

Are you finding all of this to be overwhelming? Are you worried that you don’t have what it takes to write a research-based essay?

Essay Reference the Right Way

Newspapers
Newspapers are an unlikely source to cite, but they can come in handy.

You may be referencing a newspaper because you found something in newspaper articles that could help your essay entirely.

With article citations, it is quite similar to referencing a book but there are a few changes that you should consider when referencing a newspaper article.

Online Newspapers

In order to reference a newspaper, you need to provide the URL for articles that you have viewed for free.

That means your reference will look something like this:

Surname, First initial. (Year). Article Title. Newspaper name, Page/s. Retrieved from: Journal name/URL if available freely.

It’s very unlikely that students cite information from a traditional printed paper. However, if you want to cite information from a traditional paper, the extra detail you need is the page number from where the article was sourced.

Follow the format:

Surname, First initial. (Year). Article Title. Newspaper name, Page/s.

Magazines

What if you want to reference an article that you found in a magazine? While the magazine industry took quite a knock recently, you can still find some vital information in magazines. Magazines are cited much the same way as newspapers, except for one thing: you need to mention the volume number of the magazine.

Again, for online magazine articles, you need to cite the URL of the online magazine article.

Last name, First initial. (Year, Month Day). Article Title. Magazine name, (online) Page/s. Retrieved from: URL

With a hard copy of a magazine article, you don’t need to cite a URL but the page number of the magazine.

Surname, First initial. (Year). Article title. Magazine name, volume number, Page/s.

Academic Journals

Most students from time to time cite academic journals. If you are looking for a solid argument, an academic journal can provide much credibility to your argument.

Again, you would reference print journals differently as you would online journals.  For the printed academic journals, you require the journal name, the volume of the journal, and the pages.

Last name, First initial. (Year). Article Title. Journal name, Volume (Issue), Page/s.

For an online journal alongside citing the URL from where you accessed the article, you need to put the date upon which you accessed the journal.

Last name, First initial. (Year). Article Title. Journal name, Volume (Issue), Page/s. Available from: URL. [Accessed: date].

Essay References: Where to Find References?

Typing on a laptop
Online content can provide one of the most interesting sources to cite in your essays.

When you need to find sources for essays, online content tends to be the most reliable. You can source content in the form of a website, YouTube video, and even a social media post. You must remember to only use social media posts and YouTube videos if your lecturer approves the use of such forms of media.

Again, you ought to remember it’s a whole new ball game referencing a website not associated with a newspaper.

A tried and tested formula to cite a website is mentioned below:

Author/Source if no specific author (Year). Title of web document/page. [online]. (Last updated: if this information is available). Available at: URL [Accessed date: Day/Month/Year].

With approval from your lecturer, you can even cite a social media post.

Attempt the following formula when doing so:

Surname, First initial. (Year). Title of page [Social media format]. Day/month/year written. Available from: URL. [Accessed: Day/Month/Year].

Upon using a YouTube video, the correct citation includes:

Username of the contributor. (Year). Video Title, Series Title (if relevant). [type of medium]. Available at: URL. [Accessed: Day/ Month/Year].

Are you still finding essay referencing hard to wrap your head around? You could always make use of the services of a professional tutor to help you overcome the Harvard referencing hurdle.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.