Help on 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.

How do you reference?

Referencing requires you to acknowledge your sources in two places

  • in the main body of your text by citing (see the "Citing sources" tab for more information)
  • in the bibliography or list of references at the end of your work (see the "Creating a bibliography" tab for how to do this)

There are a number of methods of referencing. The one described here is called the Harvard method.

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

Harvard Referencing with Mike Webb

Harvard referencing help guide

The definitive guide!

The Sheffield Hallam University Guide to Harvard Referencing and Citations offers detailed and comprehensive guidance on the Harvard referencing style recommended at SHU, 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.

The guidelines for referencing in the Harvard-SHU style have changed. The guide above and the examples on this site follow the new recommendations published in September 2014.

The Harvard SHU referencing style

The Harvard method of referencing is a way of citing using the author and year.   "Harvard" refers to this general method, but there is no definitive Harvard style showing specific details of how to cite and reference.

It is possible to find many styles showing different ways this method can be applied.  The Harvard-SHU style was developed to provide consistent examples and guidance and is used across most of the University.

Note: When you are using Library Search, Resource Lists Online, databases and other sources, you may be given the option to view or save your references in a Harvard style.  However, this may not be the same as the Harvard-SHU style recommended at SHU and by your tutors.

When using RefWorks and Microsoft Word, there is an option to reference in the Harvard-SHU style which follows the guidelines given here.

If you are asked to produce your references in a different way or to use a different system of referencing, please see the "Other Referencing styles" section on this page and refer to your course handbook or tutor for guidance.

CHERNIN, Elie (1988). The Harvard system: a mystery dispelled. [online]. BMJ, 297 (6655), 1062-1063.

Referencing quick guide

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.  Alternatively, download the web version below.