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Library Guides

Referencing: Home

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

Introduction to referencing & Cite Them Right

This guide provides a quick introduction to referencing.  It also explains the transition from Westminster Harvard to the version of Harvard provided by Cite Them Right in 2022/23. 

For a longer introduction and comprehensive guidance on referencing in general use the Cite Them Right Online Guide or refer to the book Cite them right available in all libraries, and online.


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 work.  This might be through paraphrasing a source or quoting from it.

Referencing comprises a marker in the text, which refers the reader to further information about the source in either a list of references or a footnote or endnote.  The type of marker used, and whether you use a list of references or footnotes depends on the approach used (see box below).

Why reference?
Referencing is one of the things that distinguishes academic writing from most other types of writing.  It serves a number of functions, including:

  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. Puts your own ideas into context
  4. Makes it clear what work is original to you and what you have sourced from research, so that the work can be assessed appropriately (i.e. you are not plagiarising others' work)

What referencing style should I use?
Various referencing styles are in use at the University of Westminster, but most departments at the university use the Harvard approach. Check your module handbook or with your course for the specific style you should use. 

Note that Westminster Harvard is being phased out during 2022/23 and we will be adopting Cite them right Harvard after 2022/23 - please check with your course or module leader which version you should be using.

The styles in use at the university include:

Referencing approaches

Harvard approach

'Harvard' is a generic term which is used in the UK to refer to author-date styles, of which there are a number, including APA style.  In the context of the university, it normally refers either to Westminster Harvard or Cite Them Right Harvard, both of which are similar to APA style.

In the Harvard approach the author surname, date of publication, and page numbers (if relevant) are included in the text of your work, as follows:

Agamben (1993, pp. 178-179) argued that "the milk should go in before the tea."

It has been argued that "the milk should go in before the tea." (Agamben, 1993, pp. 178-179)

These in-text references refer your reader to a list of references at the end of your work, which are organised alphabetically, and include the full reference:

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


Running notes approach

Running notes approaches are sometimes called footnote style.  In the running notes approach a number is used in the text instead of the author/date:

It has been argued that the "milk should go in before the tea" (1)

This number refers the reader to a footnote (at the bottom of the page) or endnote (at the end of the text):

1. Giorgio Agamben, The coming community (Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press), pp. 178-179

If you are using a running notes approach, you may be asked to also include a bibliography which lists the sources you have used alphabetically by surname, along with any other sources you have read but not referred to in the text.  Outside of education, this is only included in longer texts, such as books.

Westminster Harvard

Up until 2022, the library maintained a specific style for the university called Westminster Harvard.  This is being phased out during the academic year 2022/23 in favour of the version of Harvard provided by Cite them right (see below for the main differences).  

For students still required to use Westminster Harvard, we have retained the guidance for it on this library guide and the Westminster Harvard PDF guide is still available. 

Whatever referencing style you use, try to follow the guidelines as carefully as possible as marks are often allocated for your referencing.  If you are unsure please ask a member of the AELD team for help.

Check with your module leader which referencing system you should be using if you are not sure.

Cite Them Right vs Westminster Harvard

There is very little difference between Cite Them Right Harvard and Westminster Harvard.  When using Cite them right Harvard you should note the following, which are different to Westminster Harvard.

In-text references

  • Page numbers should be included when referring to specific pages of a book or article, even if you don’t use a quotation.

List of references

  • Articles titles in Cite Them Right are 'formatted like this', with single quote marks and ending with a comma instead of no quote marks and ending in a full stop as in the Westminster style.
  • There is no full stop after the date of publication.
  • For chapters or journal articles, include pp. before the page numbers.
  • For online sources, the date accessed should be in round brackets instead of square brackets.
  • When referencing an ebook which has the same pagination as the print version, refer to it as if you are referring to the print version. 
  • When using a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) instead of a URL for journal articles, do not include the date accessed.
  • For media from streaming services (Netflix, Box of Broadcasts, etc) include the name of the service, but not the URL.

Referencing tools

The following tools can help you automatically generate references. 

You will need to check that the references generated in this way are consistent with the referencing style you are using as inconsistencies are common.

Library Search
Use the citation feature to generate a reference - you will find this under the 'send to' menu when viewing the full information about any book or journal article.

Google Scholar
Copy and paste references from the ‘cite’ tab on Google Scholar (does not include URLs).

Library databases A-Z
Many of the library databases have 'cite' features similar to Library Search and Google Scholar.

Microsoft Word (365)
Import references into Microsoft Word using the Researcher feature under the References tab.

Generate references for hundreds of styles using a URL or ISBN number.

Reference managers
There are also a number of reference managers (e.g. Refworks) that can help you manage a large database of references. There is more information about these here.