Harvard referencing is used when writing assignments or essays to identify when you have used another authors work or ideas.

At first it can seem confusing and be a bit of a pain! In this blog I will explain why it is necessary and show clear examples of how to reference correctly.

What Is It and Why Use It?

It’s fine to use other peoples work when writing an assignment, in fact it is encouraged as it shows that you have taken out the necessary research. However if you don’t name the author it could look like you are trying to take credit for their work which is known as plagiarism.

Plagiarism means claiming somebody else’s work as your own and is a very serious issue. This is why Harvard Referencing is so important because even if you are not trying to copy someone’s work, if you do not give them the correct recognition it is still seen as plagiarism.

It is a serious offence and if you are found to be guilty of plagiarism you could receive a zero grade for your work, which is why it is important to always use Harvard Referencing.



Here is an example of how to Harvard Reference for a book.

You will need:

  • The author’s or editor’s name or names if there is more than one.
  • The year the book was published
  • The title
  • The edition (you only have to specify if it isn’t the 1st)
  • Where the book was published
  • Who published it

All this information can be found on the inside cover of the book. Here is an example:

Smith.C., Hall, P. (2011) An example for Harvard referencing, 2nd edition, London: Routledge.

Journal Articles

To reference a journal article you will need:

  • The author’s name or names
  • The year it was published
  • The title of the article
  • The title of the journal
  • The volume and issue number of the journal
  • The page number the article is on


Here is an example:

Smith., C. (2011) An example of Harvard referencing, My Distance Learning Journal, vol. 2, October. 23-27.Electronic resources can include webpages, web articles, emails and forums etc.


You will need:

  • The author’s name
  • The year the information was published
  • The name of the article
  • How it was accessed
  • The web address or source
  • The date you accessed the information

Here is an example for an article accessed online:

Smith., C. (2011) An example of Harvard referencing, [online], Available at: thisisanexampleformydistancelearning.example, [31 October 2013].

Get Referencing

All references should be kept in a bibliography at the end of your assignment and this is sometimes the first thing an assessor will look at before marking your work.

Within the actual text if quoting or paraphrasing always put after it the title and which page that information can be found on, for example (Harvard Referencing: page 6).


Now you should be able to reference other authors work in your own assignments correctly and with no risk of plagiarism.

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