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Academic writing is a crucial aspect of the learning process. More specifically, it employs all scholarly tactics to ensure that the papers submitted by students are original. Citations and references have to be done, especially for research-related papers. Among the styles of citation and referencing is the Harvard formatting style that is very easy to apply in an essay or a research paper. It is a popular style and has distinct guidelines that one can follow to make the right citations. This enables the student to write plagiarism free papers that will earn them the best grades they want.

Students use Harvard formatting all over the world, and writers become more knowledgeable on the topics they are handling. It is a god style ha can help one to enhance his analytical skills when it comes to choosing what you can include in a paper.

Rules of the style

When utilizing the Harvard formatting style, there are guidelines, factors, and regulations that have to be adhered to strictly. Unlike other formats of citations, a referencing there is no particular Harvard format paper that one can use, but it takes different versions. The fundamental rule is to use the name of the author and the date system as you make your book citations, articles, and other documents.

When it comes to in-text citations and bibliography, Harvard formatting has them appear at the end of the essay o research paper. If you are referencing in your essay, the author’s name and the year of publication have to be put in parentheses. The bibliography utilizes the alphabetical order and in it are the names of the names published or unpublished material and even the publisher. The important thing here is that all the information that appears in the bibliography has to be traced back to the body of your work.

Fields that utilize the Harvard formatting style

Since Harvard formatting style is popular, it has been utilized in different fields. They include the following:

  • Philosophy
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Humanities

However, it does not ma this style is restricted to these fields only; It can be applied in other fields as well.

Fields that utilize the Harvard formatting style

Key steps to referencing

You do not reference anyhow. You have to follow a format, and in this case, the Harvard formatting when you are writing an essay or even a research paper. As such, when you are referencing, you need to consider the following:

When you are researching:

  • Decide the type of source that you want to use. It can be a journal, a book, website and so on

  • Record all the relevant details of the source like the author, the date, title, publisher, URL and o on

In your assignment:

  • Use the notes that you have made from the sources and formulate sentences and paragraphs providing evidence and examples that align with your ideas.

  • Ensure that the details for the in-text citations are the correct ones. As such, you can follow the Harvard formatting style.

At the close of the assignment

  • Come up with a reference list and remember to include each item with a corresponding item as an in-text citation

Important things to remember when dealing with Harvard formatting style

As earlier indicated on how to list sources in an essay, they must appear alphabetically. If you have multiple sources by the same author, they take a chronological approach by year of publication. A source can be cited directly, like quoting verbatim or indirectly where you show that you have used an author’s idea, but you have not quoted them.

For instance:

Direct quotation: “chocolate has diverse uses” (John, 2014, P.6)

Indirect quotation: As john (2014) notes, chocolate has many different uses

If you are quoting a source directly, you have to use age numbers, as indicated in the example above. The indirect quotation, however, does not take the page numbers, as shown in the second example above. If the page number is not available, the paragraph number will suffice. If this is not an option, you can use the abbreviations ‘n.p’ or n. pag.’ To indicate, there is no page number.

Citations for books with a single author

When using the Harvard format style with a source of a book with a single author, the last name comes first, followed by the first initial. The year comes next to the title and the edition if this is not the first edition of the book. The city and the publisher come first.

For instance:

John, D. (2016). A History of Chocolate. Nottingham: Delectable Publications

John, D. (2016). A History of Chocolate.3rd ed. Nottingham: Delectable Publications

Citations for books with a single author

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For books with multiple two or three authors

In this Harvard formatting, the last name, first initial of all the authors have to be indicated. The year comes next, city of publication, publisher.

For instance, a book with two authors:
Jones, F., and Hughes, S. (2006). Eating Out: A Definitive Restaurant Handbook. Nottingham: Delectable Publications.

Three authors:
McDonald, F. Evans, D., and Jackson, T. (2008). Getting the best service. Nottingham: Delectable Publications.

The same case applies to a book with four authors or more.

Citations for a chapter in an edited book

When handling a Harvard format paper and you want to cite a chapter of a larger book, you have to ensure the page range is added. This page range indicates the span of the entire chapter. If it is an individual chapter, ensure you include the edition of the book in the citation. However, this does not apply to other books unless it is not the first edition.

For instance:
King, S. (2010). The best wines and where to find them. In: Loftus, E., ed., Fine Wine: A Guide, 1st ed. Nottingham: Delectable Publications, pp. 28-46.

Making citations for a Journal or Magazine

Author’s Last Name, First Initial. Year of Publication, Article Tile in Single quotation marks, italicized or underlined Article Title, volume, issue, page number.

Hendrickson, Myrna, J. 2006, ‘The misinterpretation of astrological signs.’ Horoscopes for All, 23, 4, p. 16.

Making citations for Websites

Author’s Last Name, First Initial, Publication date, publication title in single quotation marks, Publisher, edition, medium type, retrieval date, full URL address.

Moses, Wendy. 2007, ‘Best trees for your backyard,’ Garden Days, Online, Retrieved 20 December 2008 from http://www.treedom.org/yards/12001/htm.

Making citations for Websites

Harvard essay formatting

If you are writing an essay in the Harvard formatting style, you must develop a very coherent style of writing. Essays are linear regardless of the format that you have used. However, when it comes to Harvard formatting, it becomes easy and organized. Your title page must confirm to the following guidelines:

  • The title of the essay should be put in uppercase letters and should be justified halfway down the page
  • The name of the author should follow, three lines down and should be written in lowercase
  • The name of your class comes four lines down
  • The name of you professor falls one line down
  • You can also write your city and state as well as the date on the final line

The above format gives the audience all the information they need to know about the author of the essay. The title is justified in the Harvard formatting. To help in expressing the main idea, there should be a partial title placed five spaces between it and the page number.

Formatting the reference list the Harvard style

When it comes to the reference list, the Harvard formatting has some simple rules to follow. They include the following:

The alphabetical order

If you are utilizing the Harvard formatting style demands that you alphabetize the sources according to the first letter of the first word of each entry. This is usually the first surname of the author. However, if your reference entry starts with “a,” “an” or “the” you can ignore them and alphabetize according to the first letter to the next word.

For example, if your citations involve sources whose authors are not listed, and the entry starts with a title, you have to alphabetize according to the word that falls after “the.”

Placement of all entries

In Harvard formatting, every bibliographical entry starts from a new line. They are not indented but are aligned to the left. You should also maintain double-spacing throughout your reference list.


When it comes to capitalization, the titles of books, book chapters, and web articles, you only capitalize the first letter. However, if it involves citing scientific journals or newspapers, capitalize all the main words of their titles instead of prepositions, articles, or conjunctions.

Referencing multiple authors

Harvard formatting style requires you to use ‘et al.’ where you have four or more authors in a sure, you have to list all these authors in a bibliographical entry regardless of how many they are.

harvard style referencing multiple authors

Common pitfalls to avoid when using the Harvard formatting style

These are the common mistakes that you are likely to make when using the Harvard referencing style. As such, you have to be aware of them so that you can avoid them in your paper. They include the following:

Making orphan in-text citations

In-text citations are effective if you want to remember and correctly organize all the sources that you have used in your paper. Every in-text citation must have a corresponding reference list entry which is very crucial to help the audience understand where each piece of information came from. As such, you should be very careful not to mess up your in-text citations, some that your reference list is not problematic.

Inconsistent citation style

You have to remember the style that you are using in your paper, failure to which you will be inconsistent in the way you reference your work. Do not try to mix the Harvard formatting style with any other format, as that would confuse not only you but also the audience. You have to double-check your citation to ensure they follow the right format.

Neglecting citations as you paraphrase

Paraphrasing is one of the most common ways through which students use outside information in their papers. Paraphrasing is putting another person’s idea in your own words. However, citations are still necessary here because it remains an idea from another person’s work. As such, when you include citations in paraphrasing, you are simple, avoiding plagiarism in your work.

Incorrect placement of commas and periods

You can destroy a citation in Harvard referencing style by placing a period or a comma where it is not supposed to appear. For some in-text citations, the period comes after the parentheses. As such, you have to double-check your citation styles manual, especially the Harvard formatting style to ascertain the rules before you can submit your paper. This ensures you have the right citations to avoid confusion.

That is how you use the Harvard formatting style for your paper. Remember that you can always ask for assistance from our professional writers. We can help you in making the right citations for your papers. You can contact us today.

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