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Help with Referencing: Referencing

Find out why referencing is important, how to create correct citations and bibliographies in the Harvard style and learn about some useful referencing software

What is referencing?

When you write an assignment you will be drawing constantly upon information you have read in books, journal articles and other sources. Your lecturers will want you to acknowledge these sources through referencing.

Accurate referencing is very important because

  • it demonstrates that you have researched or read around the subject which you are writing about
  • it provides evidence for your arguments
  • it allows any reader of your work to find the original sources you used
  • it shows that you are not passing off someone else's research as your own thoughts

You should reference whenever you use someone else's work in your own work; not only when you quote but also when you paraphrase or summarise someone's ideas.

Never copy and paste information into your work without referencing it. This is plagiarism.

RefWorks and referencing software

Referencing software can help you keep an accurate record of the resources you have used and can automatically create correctly formatted citations and bibliographies to insert into your work.

At SHU we recommend RefWorks and the Microsoft Word Citations & Bibliography tool.

For information on how to use these tools see

Changes to referencing

From September the university will adopt APA referencing style for most courses.  Make sure you know what is required for your course.

Returning students who have previously used Harvard can can use Harvard or APA referencing for the coming year but will switch to APA for the academic year 17/18.

  • TESOL pre-sessional students should use APA referencing for their summer course
  • TAR UC students should use Harvard referencing except
  • Psychology students should use APA

If you are not sure what referencing style to use check your course documents, subject guide or ask your lecturer.

Harvard referencing help guide

The definitive guide to Harvard referencing

The Sheffield Hallam University Guide to Harvard Referencing and Citations offers detailed and comprehensive guidance on the Harvard referencing style, including

  • why you need to reference
  • how to cite in your work 
  • how to produce a bibliography

With examples of how to cite and reference a huge number of different types of material.

Harvard referencing quick guide

Image credit: Sheffield Hallam University

Pick up a Referencing leaflet from the Helpdesk for a quick guide to the SHU-Harvard style of referencing and some examples of the most common types of reference.