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Harvard Referencing

This guide shows students and staff how to reference using the Harvard Referencing style.


Welcome to the Box Hill Institute Guide to Harvard Referencing. This guide provides rules and examples of how to reference printed and electronic materials that you use in your work.

Most assignments require you to list the resources you have used for researching a topic and every item used, regardless of format, must be acknowledged. Listing resources correctly is called referencing, citing (citation) or compiling a bibliography. The most common style used at Box Hill Institute is the Harvard Referencing Style. However, it is best to ask your teacher or teaching centre which style they prefer.

There are two parts to referencing:

  • An In-text citation. When you use a direct quote or someone else's idea or image in your assignment, you have to make it clear that it belongs to them, e.g. Smith (2009, p. 1) emphasises the importance of correct referencing.
  • A reference list or bibliography. It includes works you have cited and may also include works you looked at but did not cite. Items are listed alphabetically at the end of your work, with a space between each item.

Harvard Referencing is also known as the Author-Date system because that's the format it follows. There are different 'families' of the Harvard referencing style and you may find small differences in examples depending on which style guide you look at (e.g. some use a bracket around the year of publication, 'viewed' instead of 'retrieved' for electronic resources, no full stop after the author's first initial). Generally, these minor alterations are acceptable as long as they are used consistently throughout your work. If you have any doubts it is best to check with your teacher and check examples in this guide.

An Important note on using the Discovery catalogue cite function: 

When you search for books or articles in the Discovery catalogue and select a resource, there is an option on the right hand side to get a citation for the resource in various fomats including Harvard. This can be useful for cutting and pasting a citation into your reference list, but please be aware that the formatting given in these citations is different from the BHI Harvard style. You can still use this function, but please refer to this Libguide and adapt the citation as necessary. This may be the case with any automated citation software that you use, so please check your final references against the examples in this guide. If unsure, please contact your teacher or Library staff.


Why Reference?

Failing to reference the resources you have used to complete an assignment can get you penalised by your teacher, your teaching centre and, potentially, the law. Claiming the work of others as your own (by quoting from books, websites or other sources without acknowledging them properly, e.g. with an in-text citation and a reference list) is called plagiarism, and is a breach of the Institute's Plagiarism, Collusion and Cheating Policy. Referencing correctly is a way of showing your teacher what is your work and what is supporting material drawn from another source.