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Help with referencing

Leeds Beckett 'Quote, Unquote' guide provides information on the Harvard referencing system, including how to reference a variety of different formats and media.

The guide is available online in two versions: Quote, Unquote Online and downloadable Quote, Unquote PDF

Book an appointment

Daily appointments are usually available (weekdays only) when you can get more help with Harvard or OSCOLA (Law) or APA (Psychology) referencing from Karen Carney or Tom Guest in our Academic Support Team. Or you can ask via the Library's Contact Us page

Harvard referencing: the basics

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  • Always read and follow any guidance on referencing you are given in your assignment brief or assessment instructions.
  • Include citations in the text and a reference list at the end of your work.
  • The purpose of the citation is to link an idea/information in your text, with the source that it came from.
  • The purpose of the reference list is to help the reader find the sources used — so include all the key information to allow someone to find the source.
  • Ensure the layout and presentation of your referencing is consistent.
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Referencing is how you point to other sources (books, journals, webpages etc.) you have used in writing your work. It consists of two parts: the citation and the reference.

The citation is a marker in the text to indicate that the information you refer to has come from somewhere else. The reference contains the full information about the source you used to allow someone else to find the source.

In Harvard referencing the citation consists of an author (family name or name of organisation) and year in round brackets, e.g. (Smith, 2019). Insert the citation as soon as you refer to a source in the text.

The full details of all the sources used in your text are presented at the end of your piece of work in a reference list alphabetised by family name of the author (or name of organisation). The reference list should begin on a new page titled “Reference list” (with no quotation marks) at the top of the page.

As you read for your course, you may see other types of referencing used (numbered styles, etc.). This guide is designed to help you reference for your course at Leeds Beckett University. If you are writing for another purpose you may want to check any conventions you need to follow.


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You reference to:

  • Acknowledge the authors of the sources you have used (whether a book, journal, video, or other source),
  • Make it easy for the reader to trace the sources used in your work,
  • Show the reader that you have selected relevant and appropriate information sources,
  • Lend credence to your work, in other words, make your work more authoritative,
  • Demonstrate that you understand how to use other sources, and so are less likely to be accused of plagiarism.

When you are searching the literature, save or note down all the required details of the sources that you find at the time. If you don’t do this, you might not be able to accurately reference the sources you have used, and you will have additional work to do when you compile your list of references. The image on the previous page shows how the citations fit into the text and link to the sources you have used in the reference list.

Citing sources in your work

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You may refer to an author’s work by any of the following:

  • Quoting — using the actual words from the source enclosed in quotation marks. Use direct quotations sparingly. The majority of quotations should be short and relevant. If you do need to make a longer quotation of over 2 lines in length it should be indented in a separate paragraph as a block quote. If you are using direct quotations, images, statistics or data you need to include the page number where available. For example, (Smith, 2019 p.35)
  • Paraphrasing — rephrasing the original ideas or opinions in your own words. Most of your citations will be paraphrases.
  • Summarising — writing a short description of the ideas or opinions in your own words but giving your own interpretation of what the source says.
  • Referring to a source — mentioning the work without giving much information about the content.
  • Using statistics or data from a source — such as financial information or market research.

All of the above need a citation in the text.


Insert the citation as soon as you refer to a source in the text. It is completely your choice whether you want to include the author’s name in your sentence or not. Your writing will flow better if you use a variety of ways of inserting the citation, for example:

  • Darwin (1859) challenged accepted views of creation …
  • Evolution challenged views of creation (Darwin, 1859).
  • Carney (2010), Page (2012) and Bradley (2017) have challenged this view…
  • Several sources have challenged this view (Carney, 2010; Page 2012; Bradley 2017) …
  • While Smith (1990) has said that there is an impact, McDermott (2000) has argued that …
  • The confidential advice line supports 1000 children a year (Howard League for Penal Reform, 2017).

Extreme caution should be used when using secondary referencing. You should always try and find the original source and cite from that rather than the interpretation you have read. If it is not feasible to do this, you may cite as a secondary source.

In text example:
Smith (2004, cited in Jones 2007, p. 63) provides a useful viewpoint on different research philosophies.

Include the source details of the quoted source from the reference list of the work you have read with ‘Quoted in:’ if it is a direct quotation or ‘Cited in:’ if a paraphrase, followed by the reference for the source you have actually seen.

Reference list example: 
Smith, R. (2004) How to research. Research Weekly, 12(8), pp. 17–20. Quoted in: Jones, F. (2014) Researching your dissertation. Research Today, 4(6), pp. 61-67. 


For one author include the author’s family name and date, as above. For two authors include both family names e.g. Smith and Jones (2018) argued …

For three or more authors of one work include the first author and ‘et al.’ (meaning ‘and others’ in latin) e.g. (Peterson et al., 2016). In your reference list include the family names of all authors.

If there is no named individual use the name of the organisation, known as the corporate author, e.g. (NHS, 2018).

Where you use an abbreviated form of an organisation’s name (e.g. NHS or NICE) in the citation, you MUST use the same abbreviation in the reference list.

Where there is no author information available, cite using the title.

Where an author’s family name has two parts, e.g. Vincent van Gogh, Linda La Plante, etc.

When capitalised, the first part of the name should always be treated as part of the last name, e.g. La Plante, L.

But if the first part is not capitalised, you can treat it as a suffix that goes after the first name, e.g. Gogh, V. v.

Citing more than one source at one point in the text

List the sources in order of publication date, oldest first.

Smith (1998), Jones (2001) and Brown (2004) believed that…. Contrary opinions have since gained weight however (Peters, 2002; Johns, 2007; Anderson, 2010)

Citing more than one source from the same author in the same year
Use a lowercase a, b or c etc. after the date within the citation to identify which source is which.

In the long-term plan (NHS, 2019a) proposals were outlined for reducing pressure on emergency medicine. The implementation document (NHS, 2019b) contained the information about how this was to be done …


Include the date of publication in round brackets. If there is no date of publication, use (n.d.) in place of the date in the citation and the reference.

Where you need to include a page number in a citation use p. for a single page and pp. for a range of pages. If no page number is available (for webpages, or other unpaginated sources include (n.p.) in place of the page numbers). If there is another useful locator - for example, the duration into a video, you can include that in the same place, e.g. 1m34s.

Sometimes finding information to cite a website can be difficult. There may be no obvious author or date. Try finding author information from the “About us” webpage and the date from the last updated or copyright date information on the website. If you have difficulty finding information to cite the webpage, you should consider whether it is a source worth adding to your assignment, or whether there is more appropriate evidence you can cite.

For some long pieces of work you may be allowed to include appendices which are additional bits of information not otherwise available to the reader. Appendices should be clearly labelled with either a letter or a number. Referring to information in appendices is not really referencing but more signposting to the additional information, for example: (see Appendix 1).

If you need to include references to published works (books, journals etc.) within your appendices do this exactly as you would in the body of your text, insert a citation in the appendix and the full reference within the bibliography for your project.

If you want to refer to the appendices within another source, indicate it is from the appendix within the citation as you would a page number for a direct quotation, for example: (Khan, 2018, Appendix C p.4).

Reference list

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You must always include a Reference list at the end of your work. This is a list of all references you have used alphabetised by author family name and providing the publication details (author, publication date, title, publisher information, etc) of all the sources you have used and cited in your assignment. 

You may also be required to include a bibliography, which is a list not only of the sources you have used but also those you have consulted. NB: You should only include a bibliography if required to in your assessment regulations.

Be consistent in your formatting and layout throughout the reference list.

  • Put the title in italics, (this guide uses italics; it is acceptable to use bold or underlined, but whichever you choose, use it for all your references).
  • Only use the initial letter of the writer’s first (given) name, e.g. Smith, J. or Tolkein, J. R. R.
  • For sources with multiple authors, list all the authors in the order they appear on the source.
  • More than one publication by the same author, list them in chronological order, earliest first.
  • More than one publication written by the same author in the same year, list them in the order they appear in the text using a lowercase a, b or c etc. after the date.
  • Titles should always be in sentence case, capitalise the first word and any proper nouns (except newspaper and journal titles).
  • Punctuate consistently throughout your reference list. Always put the date in round brackets and always use a colon to separate place of publication and publisher.
  • The list is sorted alphabetically by author, Twitter @ names will be at beginning of the list.
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The citations in the text are included in the word count because they are within the main body of your work. The reference list at the end of your work is not included in the word count for your assignment. If you use footnotes please consult guidance from your school as to whether they are included in the word count.

List the place of publication from the title page of the book. If the place is small, outside the UK, or could be confused with another place, add extra information in brackets, e.g. Cambridge (Mass.) if it was Cambridge in the USA rather than Cambridge in the UK.

We have included examples of the main sources you may want to reference in this guide, but no guide is completely comprehensive. We have also included additional examples in the online version.

If you cannot find the source you wish to reference here, there is a general pattern you can follow.

  • References always start with the author name where there is no author name, use the title.
  • Then the date of publication or creation (in brackets).
  • The title comes next, and is in italics.
  • You can always add details about the format of the item in [square brackets] after the title. PDF is not a format, it will be a PDF of something else, an article or a report. Use that reference type instead.
  • Other than that, think which information about the item would help someone find it.
  • If you need further help, contact the Library.

A-Z of reference examples

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