Harvard Style Citation and Referencing

What Exactly Is Harvard Style?

Harvard style, along with the APA, MLA, and Chicago styles, is one of the most regularly used formatting styles in academic papers, and it is also the most formal. The general format of the article is dictated by Harvard format, which includes the size of the margins, preferred font, and so on. It also contains guidelines for citing sources, both in the text and in the reference list at the end of the paper.


Harvard referencing is popular in the following fields:

  • Humanities
  • Philosophy
  • Behavioural sciences

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


Guidelines for Paper Formatting

General Guidelines

  • All sides have 1-inch margins.
  • The fonts to use are Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt.
  • There is a double spacing between the lines.
  • The text is centered on the page.
  • Each paragraph’s first line is indented by 0.5 inches.
  • Create a title for your first page in the center of the page, immediately before the text.
  • Page numbers and headers (see below).
  • The paper may have subheadings (sections), a title page, an outline (a plan for your paper), and a list of references (see below).


Page Numbers, Title, and Headers

  • Make a center-aligned title and place it before the text of your paper. Capitalize all keywords, such as “How to Write an Essay.” Articles, short conjunctions, and prepositions do not have to be capitalized. Your title should not be indented, italicized, underlined, or bolded.
  • Include a page number in your paper’s header, in the top right corner of each page.
  • Put your last name right before the page number in the header.



Subheadings separate your paper into sections. Level 1 headings, for example, divide the entire article into sections. Level 2 headings further subdivide those sections.

Level 1 headings are identical to the paper’s title. To put it another way, they are centered and capitalized, but they are not bolded, underlined, italicized, or indented in any way. Indent the first paragraph of your text by 0.5′′ and begin typing your text on a new line after the heading.

Level 2 headings are capitalized as well. They are, however, flush left (aligned to the left margin of the paper). They are italicized as well. After this subheading, begin typing your subsection on a new line following it.


Formatting the Title Page

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

  • The title of your paper is in all capital letters. It should be centered and roughly one-third of the way down the page.
  • Your name should be center-aligned and about halfway down the page.
  • Place the course name and number in the center of the page about two-thirds of the way down the page. Then (on the following line) your professor’s name, then (again on the next line) your university’s name, and finally (on the following line) the date.


Harvard Outline Style

An outline is a blueprint for your paper. It follows the title page and lists all of the paper’s subsections. Write the word “Outline” in the first line of the page, in the center of the page. Then, list all of your level 1 subheadings (use a numbered list). They should be aligned to the left and capitalized.

If you have level 2 subheadings, you should put them as bullet points under the level 1 subheading that corresponds to them. Take care not to mess up the numbering of your level 1 subheadings. Level 2 subheadings should be aligned to the left, but indent them slightly (say, half an inch) for a more professional appearance. They should not be italicized here but should be capitalized.

If you followed the instructions exactly, your outline should look like the one in the template above.


Reference List in Harvard Style

Your Harvard reference list should be titled “Reference List.” Like level 1 subheadings, these two words should be capitalized and centered. Every source cited in the paper must have a bibliographical entry in the list. In contrast, each source noted in the article must access the reference list.

Learn more about format bibliographical entries below, or contact one of our professional essay writers for assistance.


In-Text Citations in Harvard Style

General Rules

Please cite all of your sources.

When you use information from other sources in your paper, you must provide a Harvard-style in-text citation to show where that information came from. Your text will be considered plagiarized if it is not.


The appearance of in-text citations in general

Citations in Harvard style are parenthetical and consist of the author’s surname and the year of publication. They appear as follows: Smith and Johnson (2018). You can also include the page number, such as this: (Smith & Johnson 2018, p. 35).


Direct quotations

If you provide exact words from a source, you must put them in quotation marks and include the page number in your in-text citation in Harvard referencing. When quoting a website, have the number of the paragraph from which the words are taken: (Smith & Johnson 2018, para. 4). Count the sections on the website you’re citing.


The authors mentioned this in the text.

If you mention the authors’ names in the text, do not put them in parentheses. Also, instead of the ampersand, use the word “and” (&). For example, you could write: Smith and Johnson (2018, p. 15) claim in their book that jumping from a skyscraper may be harmful to your health.


You are citing an author mentioned in another source.

If you refer to an author discussed in a secondary source, you should mention the original author’s name while also stating that this author is “cited in” the source you are using. For example, if Kraut discusses Plato, you could say that Plato believed that the soul’s existence is independent of the body it inhabits (cited in Kraut 2017).

Please keep in mind that in this case, you must include a bibliographic entry for Kraut rather than Plato in the References List.


Several sources are cited in a single citation.

If you want to cite multiple sources in a single set of parentheses, list them in the same order as they appear in your Reference List, and use a semicolon to separate them, as shown below: (Johnson 2015; Smith 2014).


Examples of Different Types of In-Text Citations

In-text citations in Harvard referencing look different depending on the number of authors in your source. For each of the cases, we present two referring examples: one in which the head is not mentioned in the text and one in which it is.

One Author

  • It is recommended that you brush your teeth after dinner (Anderson 2015).
  • Anderson (2015) suggests brushing your teeth after dinner.

Two Authors

  • Some students may enjoy writing papers (Ironicous & Sarcastish 2016).
  • Some students, according to Ironicous and Sarcastish (2016), may find writing papers to be enjoyable.

Three Authors

  • The surface of gas giants is not hard (Peachy, Fluffy & Cozy 2014).
  • According to Peachy, Fluffy, and Cozy (2014), the surfaces of gas giants are not hard.

Four or More Authors

  • Physically punishing children is regarded as a highly harmful practice (Kickbutt et al., 2016).
  • According to Kickbutt et al. (2016), physically punishing children is dangerous.

Edited Source

  • Disaster management is critical for risk reduction (eds López-Carresi et al. 2014).
  • Disaster management, according to the book published by López-Carresi et al. (2014), is vital for risk reduction.

The prefix “ed.” should be used before the name in a parenthetical citation if there is just one editor. Put “eds” (no period) before their words if there are several editors. If you mention their names in the text, say “edited by” before listing the name (s).


There are no authors.

If the authors of a source are not mentioned, use the source’s title in your in-text citation. It is worth noting that the title of books, brochures, periodicals, and reports is italicized in the Harvard referencing system. The title is enclosed in single quotation marks when citing a website, article, newspaper, or chapter name. Capitalization should be limited to the first word of the title.


In the case of books, periodicals, brochures, and reports:

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

For newspapers, articles, chapter titles, and website titles:

  • It is always advisable to act wisely in any situation (‘Ten Brilliant Tips to Becoming Successful,’ 2011).
  • The article ‘Ten Brilliant Tips to Be Successful’ (2011) suggests acting wisely in any situation.

You may also shorten the title if it is too long. For example, in the preceding example, you could write simply the psychology of pressure (2010) rather than the psychology of pressure: an introduction (2010).


No Date

If the source does not include a date, use the abbreviation “n.d.” (no date). All other rules remain in effect.

  • The Earth is said to be extensive (‘The captain’s gazette,’ n.d.).
  • It may come as no surprise that having a lot of money is preferable to having none, according to Allen (n.d.).


Creating a Reference List


  • They are ordered alphabetically. Your reference list should be alphabetized by the first letter of the first word of each reference entry (usually the first author’s surname). If a reference entry begins with the words “a,” “an,” or “the,” disregard them and alphabetize by the first letter of the next term.

For example, if you cite a source whose authors are not listed and the entry begins with its title, such as “The Importance of Doing Things Right,” you should alphabetize it by the word “importance.”

  • Positioning of entries. Each bibliographical entry in Harvard reference style must begin on a new line. They are aligned to the left and have no indentation (which makes your reference list look like a total mess).
  • Ensure that your reference list is double-spaced throughout.
  • Capitalization. Only capitalize the first letter of book titles, book chapters, and Web articles. However, when citing scientific journals or newspapers, capitalize all of the main words in their titles (i.e., not prepositions, articles, conjunctions, etc.).