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Library Guides

Referencing: Hom2

This guide provides resources to support your citation and referencing practice in line with academic requirements


PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - information provided is not necessarily accurate

This page provides a quick introduction to referencing to those who are new to the practice.

For comprehensive guidance on the most commonly used referencing styles, use Cite Them Right

Bloomsbury Cite them right - a student's must-have online referencing tool

Referencing basics

What is referencing?
Referencing is a standardised system of referring to sources of information or knowledge in your assessed work.  It comprises a marker in the text, which refers the reader to either a list of references (Harvard approach) or footnotes/endnotes (running notes approach).

Why reference?
Referencing is a key part of academic writing, and one of the things that distinguishes academic writing from most other types of writing.

There are three key reasons that we ask for references:

  1. Shows the reader the research undertaken to create a piece of writing
  2. Gives the reader the information to find the sources used
  3. Makes it clear which ideas are the author's and which were sourced from research, so that the work can be assessed appropriately

Referencing and avoiding plagiarism
Your lecturers want to see that you have engaged with good quality relevant sources. However, if you rely on sources without referencing them, this might be regarded as plagiarising, and you could lose marks, or face other sanctions. 

Small amounts of plagiarism (up to 10%) should not result in you automatically failing an assignment, but you may lose marks and receive a warning.

How many references do I need?
The number of references you use depends on so many factors, its not possible to say how many you should aim for.  For a two thousand word essay it could be five or maybe less or it could be more than twenty.  Rather than focus on the number, focus on finding good quality sources that help you address the question posed in your assignment.

Key advice

  • When you are doing research make sure you take a note of what sources you are using, and where the information or quotations have come from, and make sure you reference them. 
  • Don't rely too heavily on quotation. 
  • Make sure your are consistent in how you reference, and allow enough time to check the formatting. 
  • Use 'cite them right' for advice on the unusual sources.
  • Learn by example. Take note of how academic sources use sources; this can often provide a good model for your own writing.

What referencing style should I use?

Most courses either suggest a specific referencing style, or ask you to use the Harvard approach.  Some courses have styles they prefer or give as options:

Psychology - APA
Computing - IEEE
Arts/Humanities - Chicago (notes and bibliography) or Oxford

The most commonly used styles are covered in the 'Cite them right' book or online resource

It is important that you understand the basics of the style that you are using, and that you apply the details of that style in a consistent way.  

Harvard approach

The ‘Harvard’ approach is the most commonly used. This is sometimes referred to as the author-date approach because it uses the author and date of publication as a marker in the text to refer the reader to a list of references arranged by author. 

There is no definitive 'Harvard' style, which leads to some confusion.  The library recommends you use the version of Harvard provided by 'Cite them right', which is what is used below.  The APA referencing style is very similar to this, with only a few details being different.

The list of references
The list of references should :

  • Be titled 'list of references' rather than 'bibliography'
  • Appear on a new page at the end of the work
  • Be one complete list, with no sections
  • Only include sources you have referred to in your text
  • Be arranged alphabetically according to author surname

Below are some examples of references using the Harvard approach for a book, chapter, article, and another chapter.

Agamben, G. (1993) The Coming community. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.

Cater, C. (2013) Nature bites back: impacts of the environment on tourism. In: Holden, A. and Fennell, D. (eds.) The Routledge handbook of tourism and the environment. London: Routledge, pp. 119-129

Dallmayr, F. (1999) Derrida and friendship. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2 (4), pp. 105–130.

Derrida, J. (1978) Violence and metaphysics: an essay on the thought of Emmanuel Levinas. In Writing and difference. London: Routledge, pp. 97-192.

The in-text references
In the text these could be referred to as:

Agamben (1993) highlights the benefits of community

Cater (2013) describes the impact to the environment on tourism

You should always put the jam on the scone before the cream (Dallymayr, 1999, p.205)

Derrida (1978, p. 178) argued that "the milk should go in before the tea."

Two references with the same name/date (Harvard)
If you have two references with the same name/date you can add letters to distinguish between them (e.g. Singh, 2022a, Singh, 2022b); make sure you do this in the in-text reference and the list of references,

Online sources
If you are accessing a resource online you should include a URL along with the date you accessed the resource:

Available at URL (Accessed 01 January 2022). 

There are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) can be used for articles if there is one, in which case the access date is not necessary
  • Ebooks that have the same pagination as the print version can be referred to as if you have read the print version 
  • APA style does not require the accessed date for URLs unless you are referencing a source that is intended to be updated over time

Four or more authors
If there are four or more authors, you would normally abbreviate this using 'et al' meaning 'and others' (e.g. Smith et al, 2022).  This applies to in-text references and the list of references.

Footnotes are not used in the Harvard approach for references. However, while uncommon, you could still use footnotes for other authorial notes.

Running notes approach

The other main approach to referencing are ‘running notes’ styles, sometimes referred to as footnote styles.  These use a number in the text as a marker to refer your reader to footnotes (or endnotes), arranged numerically. 

Examples include the Chicago notes and bibliography style (see here), and MHRA (see here). Both are covered in 'cite them right.' Another example is Oxford, as covered in the book 'New Hart's rules.'

This approach is sometimes seen as less efficient than Harvard, however it is sometimes preferred, especially in arts and humanities subjects. 


This approach allows you to combine references in a footnote with other types of authorial notes.  You might write a short comment about a source in a footnote, for example, or compare a source to other sources not cited in the main text.  It is also less obtrusive than Harvard, and avoids the anomaly of having to use publication dates in the text, which in the case of new editions of old texts can be misleading. Harvard more or less assumes the publication date is also the date the work was produced, which is normally true in the sciences, but less so in humanities.


A disadvantage of this approach is that you may be required to compile a bibliography in addition to references in footnotes, plus if you refer to a source more than once, you have to provide more than one reference for it.  In most styles this means providing a shortened note in subsequent instances, which could mean three versions of a reference - the initial note, the shortened note, and the version in the bibliography.

Ibid / Op cit

In running notes styles, if you are using the same source as in the note immediately preceding it, you can use the term 'Ibid' meaning 'in the same source'. 'Op cit' is also sometimes used to refer to a previously used source beyond the note immediately preceding it, but has fallen out of favour so best avoided.

It is questionable whether a bibliography is really needed in addition to notes for a short work like an essay - journals do not require bibliographies for example.  However, for academic work it is often a requirement when using a running notes approach.  A bibliography can include relevant sources even if not cited in the text.

Microsoft Word
To insert a footnote in Word, go to the references tab, and select 'insert footnote.'

When do I need to reference?

Summarising / paraphrasing
Even if you are putting something you have read in your own words, you still need to provide a reference.  If you are referring to a specific section you should include page numbers.  For summarising or paraphrasing a source, you must ensure that you are genuinely using your own words and structure.

For a quotation, you must put the words you have quoted in quotation marks (“....”), and provide a page number or page range.  Double or single quotation marks can be used, as long as you are consistent. 

For quotations of more than three lines, instead of quotation marks, you could indent the text and use single-line spacing:

I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; as having a mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the resemblances of things (which is the chief point), and at the same time steady enough to fix and distinguish their subtler differences; as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture.

TIP: Try to avoid using too much direct quotation. Use quotations when it's important to use the original words, rather than to avoid having to put things in your own words to save time.  As a very rough guide, in a two thousand word essay, you would normally expect there to be fewer than 100 words of direct quotation (i.e. less than 5%).

Do I have to reference everything?
'Cite them right' provides examples of references for many types of source, including graffiti, body art, and circus performances. There are times when you should provide a reference for this sort of thing.  However, it may be appropriate to write about things without formally referencing them, and you should use some judgement about whether a formal reference is appropriate.   

Common knowledge
You do not need to reference things that are common knowledge. To give an example: that Tony Blair was UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007 does not need a reference.

Opinions on what is common knowledge can differ from one person to another and the context, so you need to exercise some judgement as to what is appropriate.

Academic Phrasebank

The different verbs used to introduce sources (e.g. lists, defines, points, states, explains, suggests, argues, contradicts) can subtly indicate your understanding of those sources, and using a variety of verbs can help bring interest and subtly to your writing. 

Take a look at the Referring to sources section of Manchester University's Academic Phrasebank for more examples.

Annotated bibliographies

A  bibliography is sometimes regarded as a piece of scholarship in its own right, and compiling a bibliography with annotations is sometimes set as an assignment in some disciplines. 

Referencing 'cheats'

Google Scholar
You can copy and paste references for a number of referencing styles from the ‘cite’ tab on Google Scholar.

Microsoft Word
You can also import references into Microsoft Word using the Researcher feature under the References tab.

Reference managers
There are also a number of reference managers (e.g. Refworks) that can help you manage a large database of references if you are a more experienced researcher, or are keen to use a technological solution. There is more information about these here.

TIP: These 'cheats' will save time, but you will need to check any automatically generated references for inconsistencies.


No author
Most sources without an author can be attributed to an organisation (e.g. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013) - a good tip is to check who the copyright is attributed to. 

TIP: You can abbreviate this in subsequent in-text references as long as you indicate the abbreviation in the initial reference (e.g. Organisation  for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2013).

No date
If there is no date you can put ‘no date’ in place of the date or abbreviate this to n.d.

Online sources
Advice on this is different for different styles, and changes over time.  The Harvard (Cite them right) advice is given elsewhere on this page.  Note that this differs to APA, which does not require the access date for URLs, and Chicago (NB) which does not require this either, and just asks for the DOI, URL, or name of database.

You should only cite a specific chapter if the book is a collection of texts rather than one continuous work.

Secondary referencing
In Harvard approaches, when using a source you only know ‘second hand’ (i.e. through another source) you should indicate this in the text (e.g. Smith 2008, cited in Jones 2010), and then only include the text you have read in your list of references (i.e. Jones, 2010).  This is not the same in every style - e.g. Chicago asks you to provide both sources.

TIP: Try to keep secondary referencing to a minimum, and use only when you are unable to locate and read the original source.

Texts in languages other than English
If referencing a book in its original language, you can give the title exactly as shown in the book, or transliterated from the original language into Roman script. You may also provide a translation of the title in square brackets after the title in the original script:

Pu, S. (1982). 聊齋誌異 [Strange stories of Liaozhai]. Taiyun: Shanxi Renmin Chubanshe.

Books in translation
Reference the translation you have read, not the original work.

Deilbes, M. (2013). The path. Translated from the Spanish by G. Haycraft and R. Haycraft. London: Dolphin Books.

Bibliography vs a list of references 
A list of references is used in Harvard approaches and only includes sources referenced in the text. A bibliography is used in running notes styles, or created as a work in its own right, and might include background reading that you have not referenced in the text.   

Word count - are references included?
References should be excluded from the word count.  Strictly speaking this includes in-text references if you are using Harvard, although since these should not comprise a significant number, it is normally safe to ignore this. 

Text included in footnotes other than what is necessary for referencing should be included in the word count.  Obviously, any direct quotations you use are also included.

It is standard practice to allow a ten percent leeway either side of the word count, so unless you are told otherwise or are given a range (e.g. 2000-2500 words) it is reasonable to assume that this is the case.