Harvard Style Citation and Referencing: a Detailed Guide from Experts

This is a Harvard referencing guide to help you with formatting your custom essay in the Harvard style citation and referencing. You can find out how to:

  • format your paper in general;
  • provide in-text citations;
  • create a reference list.

Let’s get started with defining the Harvard style.


What Is Harvard Style?

Harvard style is one of the most popular formatting styles used in academic papers, along with APA, MLA, and Chicago. Harvard format dictates the general format of the paper, including the size of the margins, preferred font, etc. It also contains rules for citing sources — both in the text and in the list of references at the end of the paper.

Harvard referencing is commonly used in the following fields:

  1. Humanities
  2. Behavioral sciences
  3. Philosophy

However, you may be requested to use the Harvard referencing system in other fields as well.

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Paper Formatting Guidelines

General Rules

  • 1-inch margins from all sides.
  • Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt. are the recommended fonts.
  • Double spacing between the lines.
  • The text is aligned to the left.
  • The first line of each paragraph is indented by 0.5″.
  • A title in the center of your first page right before the text.
  • Headers and page numbers (see below).
  • The paper may include subheadings (dividing it into sections), a title page, an outline (a plan of your paper), and/or a list of references (see below).

Title, Headers, and Page Numbers

  • Place a title before the text of your paper and make it center-aligned. Capitalize all the main words, for example: How to Write an Essay. Articles, short conjunctions, and prepositions are not capitalized. Do not make your title indented, italicized, underscored, or bold.
  • Include a page number in the header of your paper, in the top right corner of a page.
  • Place your last name in the header right before the page number.
Get more info about how to title an essay


Subheadings divide your paper into parts. For example, level 1 headings divide the whole paper into sections. Level 2 headings divide those sections into subsections.

Level 1 headings look just like the title of the paper. In other words, they are centered, capitalized, not bold, not underscored, not italicized, and not indented. After the heading, start typing your text on a new line as usual (indent the first line of your text by 0.5″).

Level 2 headings are also capitalized. However, they are flush left (aligned to the left margin of the paper). They are also italicized. After this subheading, also start typing your subsection on a new line as usual.

Title Page Formatting

The title page, also known as the cover page, is the very first page of your paper. It contains the basic info about it, namely:

  • The title of your paper, written in all caps. It should be centered and placed at approximately one-third of the way down the page.
  • Your name should be centered and placed at approximately halfway down the page.
  • At two-thirds of the way down the page, place the centered name and number of your course. Then (on the next line) your professor’s name, then (again on the following line) the name of your university, and, finally, the date on the line after that.

You can also find a template with an essay cover page example, headers, subheadings, and reference list example by clicking on the button down below.

Harvard Outline Format

An outline is a plan of your paper. It comes after the title page and lists all the subsections of the paper. So simply write the word “Outline” and place it at the center of the page, in the first line. Then list all your level 1 subheadings that you have in the paper (use a numbered list). Align them to the left, and capitalize them.

If you have level 2 subheadings, list them under the corresponding level 1 subheadings as bullet points. Be careful not to disrupt the numbering of your level 1 subheadings. Align the level 2 subheadings to the left, but probably indent them a bit (say, half an inch) for better appearance. Do not italicize them here, but leave them capitalized.

If you have done everything correctly, your outline should look like the one in the template above.

Harvard Style Reference List

Your list of Harvard references should be entitled “Reference List”. These two words should be capitalized and centered, just like level 1 subheadings. The list must contain a bibliographical entry for every source you cited in the paper. Conversely, each source cited in the paper must have a corresponding reference list entry.

Find out more about how to format your bibliographical entries below or just ask one of our professional essay writers for help.

Formatting Harvard In-Text Citations

General Rules

Cite all your sources
When you use information from any sources in your paper, you must provide Harvard style in text citation to show where that info came from. Otherwise, your text will be considered plagiarized.

General appearance of in-text citations
In Harvard style citation is parenthetical, consisting of the author’s surname and the year of publication. They look like this: (Smith & Johnson 2018). You may also include the page number, like so: (Smith & Johnson 2018, p. 35).

Direct quotes
In Harvard referencing, if you provide exact words from some source, you must place that quote in quotation marks, and give the page number in your in-text citation. If you quote a website, you need to include the number of the paragraph the words are taken from, like this: (Smith & Johnson 2018, para. 4). Just count the paragraphs on the web page you are citing.

Mentioning authors in the text
If you mention the name of the authors in the text, do not include it in parentheses. Also, use the word “and” instead of the ampersand (&). For example, you may write: In their book, Smith and Johnson (2018, p. 15) claim that jumping from a skyscraper might be bad for your health.

Citing an author discussed in a different source
If you are referring to an author who is discussed in a secondary source, you should mention the name of the original author, but state that this author is “cited in” the source you are using. For example, if Kraut discusses Plato, you can say:
Plato believed that the existence of the soul is independent of the body it inhabits (cited in Kraut 2017).
Note: in this case, you will have to provide a bibliographic entry for Kraut and not for Plato in the References List.

Several sources in one citation
If you wish to cite several sources in one set of parentheses, you should list them in the same order as they appear in your Reference List, and use a semicolon to separate them, like this: (Johnson 2015; Smith 2014).

Different Types of In-Text Citations + Examples

In Harvard referencing, in-text citations look different depending on the number of authors in your source. We provide two referencing examples for each case: in one, the source is not mentioned in the text, and in the other, it is.

One Author

  • It is recommended to clean your teeth after dinner (Anderson 2015).
  • Anderson (2015) recommends cleaning your teeth after dinner.

Two Authors

  • Some students may actually enjoy writing papers (Ironicous & Sarcastish 2016).
  • According to Ironicous and Sarcastish (2016), some students may actually enjoy writing papers.

Three Authors

  • Gas giants do not have a hard surface (Peachy, Fluffy & Cozy 2014).
  • According to Peachy, Fluffy and Cozy (2014), gas giants do not have a hard surface.

Four or More Authors

  • Punishing children physically is considered an extremely harmful practice (Kickbutt et al. 2016).
  • Kickbutt et al. (2016) states that punishing children physically is an extremely harmful practice.

Edited Source

  • Disaster management is pivotal for lowering risks (eds López-Carresi et al. 2014).
  • According to the book edited by López-Carresi et al. (2014), disaster management is pivotal for lowering risks.
in a parenthetical citation, if there is only one editor, use “ed.” before the name. If there are multiple editors, use “eds” (without a period) before their names. If you mention their names in the text, just say that the source was “edited by” before listing the name(s).

No Authors
If the authors of a source are not mentioned, use the title of that source in your in-text citation. Note that in Harvard system of referencing, the title is italicized for books, brochures, periodicals, and reports. However, the title is put in single quotation marks when you need to cite a website, article, newspaper, or chapter name. Only capitalize the first word of the title.
For books, periodicals, brochures, and reports:

  • Some people might work well under pressure (The psychology of pressure: an introduction 2010).
  • According to The psychology of pressure: an introduction (2010), some people might work well under pressure.

For newspapers, articles, chapter titles, and Web pages:

  • It is helpfully advised to act wisely in any situation (‘Ten brilliant tips to become successful’ 2011).
  • The article ‘Ten brilliant tips to become successful’ (2011) helpfully recommends to act wisely in any situation.

Also, you may shorten the title if it is too long. For instance, in the example above, you may write just The psychology of pressure (2010) instead of The psychology of pressure: an introduction (2010).

No Date
If there is no date in the source, use the abbreviation “n.d.” (no date) instead. All the other rules apply as usual.

  • It is stated that the Earth is large ('The captain’s gazette' n.d.)
  • One might not be surprised to learn that having a lot of money is better than having none, according to Allen (n.d.).

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Formatting the Reference List

General Rules

  • Alphabetical order. Your reference list should be alphabetized according to the first letter of the first word of each reference entry (usually it’s the first author’s surname). However, if a reference entry starts with the words “a,” “an”, or “the,” ignore them and alphabetize according to the first letter of the next word.

For instance, if you cite a source whose authors are not listed, and the entry starts with its title, e.g., “The importance of doing things well,” then you should alphabetize it according to the word “importance.”

  • Placement of entries. In Harvard reference style, each bibliographical entry must start from a new line. They are aligned to the left and not indented at all (which makes your reference list look like a total mess).
  • Maintain double-spacing throughout your reference list.
  • Capitalization. In titles of books, book chapters, and articles from the Web, capitalize only the first letter. However, when citing scientific journals or newspapers, capitalize all the main words of their titles (i.e., not prepositions, articles, conjunctions, etc.).

See specific Harvard reference examples below.

  • Referencing multiple authors. Even though Harvard style in text citation requires you to use “et al.” when there are four or more authors in a source, you need to list all the authors in a bibliographical entry. Yes, all of them, even if there are 25.
  • Several works by the same author. In the Harvard style reference list, sources by the same author should be arranged by the year of publication. If there are several works by the same author published in the same year, arrange them in the alphabetical order of their titles, and add letters “a,” “b,” “c,” etc. after the year, like so:
    Smith, JH 2014a, A big book, Big Book Publisher, London, UK.
    Smith, JH 2014b, A small book, Small Book Publisher, London, UK.
This will let you differentiate between in-text citations: (Smith 2014a; Smith 2014b).

Harvard Style Citation


General Book Format
Last Name, Initials Year of Publication, Title of the book: subtitle of the book, if any, Publishing House, City, State Abbreviation or Country.

Book With One Author
Doel, M 2012, Social work: the basics, Routledge, New York, NY.

Book With Two Authors
Tschudin, V & Davis, AJ 2008, The globalization of nursing, Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford, UK.

Book With Three Authors
Cretu, O, Stewart, RB & Berends, T 2011, Risk management for design and construction, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Book With Four or More Authors
Evans, J, Grimshaw, P, Philips, D & Swain, S 2003, Equal subjects, unequal rights: indigenous peoples in British settler colonies 1830s-1910, Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK.

Edited Book
López-Carresi, A, Fordham, M, Wisner, B, Kelman, I & Gaillard, JC (eds) 2014 Disaster management: international lessons in risk reduction, response and recovery, Routledge, New York, NY.

if there is only one editor, use (ed.) after the name. If there are multiple editors, use (eds) after their names.

Book—Edition Other Than First
Field, A 2013, Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics: and sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, 4th edn, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Translated Book
Weber, M 2003, The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, trans. T Parsons, Dover Publications, New York, NY, original work published 1905.

Chapter in an Edited Book
Luna, EM 2014, 'Community-based disaster risk reduction and disaster management', in A López-Carresi, M Fordham, B Wisner, I Kelman & JC Gaillard (eds), Disaster management: international lessons in risk reduction, response and recovery, Routledge, New York, NY, pp. 43-63.

No Author
The Oxford dictionary of abbreviations 1998, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Doel, M 2012, Social work: the basics, Routledge, viewed 19 April 2018, via Google Books.


Journal Articles
Viñuales, JE 2013, ‘The rise and fall of sustainable development’, Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 3-13.

Conference Proceedings
Bingulac, SP 1994 'On the compatibility of adaptive controllers', Proceedings of 4th Annual Allerton Conference on Circuit and System Theory, New York, NY, pp. 8-16.

Newspaper Articles
Waterford, J 2007, ‘Bill of Rights gets it wrong’, Canberra Times, 30 May, p. 11.

Online Newspapers
Matthews, J & Smithson, LW 2015, 'The latest reform causes large-scale protests', The Contemporary News Gazette, 11 August, viewed 26 April 2018, <www.website.com articleone="">.</www.website.com>

Other Sources

Web Pages
Jameson, S 2017, Protests in Portugal reached unseen scope, viewed 27 April 2018, <www.website.com articletwo="">.</www.website.com>

Blog Articles
Brown, A 2016, 'How to Harvard reference a website and other sources', Referencing: Harvard Style Blog, web log post, 20 June, viewed 26 April 2018, <www.website.com blog="" articlethree="">.</www.website.com>

Dissertation or Thesis

  • Print version:
    Reed, C 2013, 'The experiences of leaders who took their lives in their hands', PhD Thesis, The University of Modern Education.
  • Retrieved from the Web:
    Johnston, AC 2017, 'A study of nursing leadership styles in the today’s clinical setting', MSc Thesis, The University of Contemporary Nursing, viewed 25 April 2018, <www.website.edu dissertationone="">.</www.website.edu>
Do not forget to specify what type of thesis it is (BA Thesis, MSc Thesis, PhD Thesis, etc.).

Motion Picture (Movie)
The lord of the rings: the return of the king 2003, motion picture, Imagine Films, Auckland, NZ. Produced by Steve Pyke; directed by Peter Jackson.

Television Program
Stateline 2009, television broadcast, ABC TV, Canberra, 4 September. Presented by Chris Kimball.

Radio Broadcast
The book show 2009, radio broadcast, ABC Radio National, Melbourne, 19 November.

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