Research Paper Referencing Rules: Using The Harvard Format


The purpose of citing references is to avoid plagiarism and give credit for work where credit is due. Different schools and even different professors may have different expectations for formatting references. The most popular formats you will see are MLA and APA. If your school or professor does not use those formats, a popular alternative is Harvard format. Here are some rules to remember when using Harvard format to format your references listed in your research paper.

Rules for Formatting References Using Harvard Format


  • Any source cited in your text should be listed in your references section.
  • References are listed alphabetically according to the author. The author is the first component of the reference.
  • If you have more than one source by the same author, list those reference in order of date from earliest to most recent.
  • Authors should be written last name first, followed by initials of first and middle names listed in the resource.
  • Multiple authors should be separated by commas, with an ampersand between the last two authors.
  • If a source has more than three authors, only list the first author followed by “et al.”
  • The year of publication is placed on the author (s) with parentheses around it. If there is no date listed, place “n.d.” in the parentheses
  • After listing the date, you list the title of the resource
  • Only the first letter of the first word of a title should be capitalized. You should also capitalize the first letter of the first word after a colon in a title.
  • Italicize book, magazine, and journal titles.
  • Be sure to list page numbers when applicable. Use “pp.” if there are many pages and “p.” if there is only one page.
  • When referencing a journal article, be sure to list the volume, issue, and page numbers, if available. If not, the name of the journal is enough.
  • Double space your references list.

With a few simple rules, Harvard format is an easy way to format your references for any research paper. There is more freedom when using Harvard format than other formats. If your instructor does not give you a template to use, make sure your references are all formatted the same way throughout. For example, if you italicize certain types of titles, make sure only those types are italicized. Consider these rules when formatting your references, and you will be good to go!