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Faculty Libraries for Health Sciences: Harvard Referencing Style: Quick guide

Harvard Referencing Style: Quick guide

General information on how to use the Harvard Referencing Style

(Faculty of Health Sciences - UP, December 2012: Department of Nursing Science & Department of Physiotherapy)


The Harvard referencing system is a brief citation to a source and is given in parentheses within the text of an article, and full citations collected in alphabetical order under "List of References," heading at the end. This style is also known as the "author-date" style.

However when we're writing articles for publication we have to consult the "Instructions to authors" for the specific journal in which we want to publish.

  • Your reference list should identify all references cited (eg books, journal articles, pamphlets, internet sites, CDRom, DVD, etc) in sufficient detail so that others can locate and consult your references.
  • It is very important that you use the right punctuation and that the order of details in the reference is also correct.
  • A reference list at the end of the assignment contains the full details of all the in-text citations.


In-text references
  • The identification of references within the text of your assignment are identified by "author-date" style.
  • The name can be a part of a sentence and the date and page numbers only given in brackets or sometimes both the name and date including the page number are put in brackets depending on how you use the citation within the wording of the paragraph:

Fischer (2011:96) remarks on the difficult of finding appropriate material on a topic ...
The difficulty of finding appropriate material has been remarked on (Fischer 2011:96).

  • When multiple references are cited at a given place in a text, see punctuation used to seperate authors' names or the names of groups of co-authors:

Fischer (2011:96), Masilela and Browne (2011:35), and De Jager, Patrick and Williamson (2012:101) remark on the difficulty of finding appropriate material.
The difficulty of finding appropriate material has been remarked on (Fischer 2011:96; Masilela and Browne 2011:35; De Jager, Patrick and Williamson 2012:101).

  • Using of 'et al' - The first time you refer to a publication in your document you give the names of all authors even if there are 6 of them.

De Jager, Patrick and Williamson (2012:101) comment on the dangers of taking this approach.

Everytime you use this publication after the first reference you'll use:
De Jager, et al (2012:101) comment on the dangers of taking this approach.

  • Direct quotations (even short ones) will be used when you consider that the words used by the author you are citing will express a particular meaning to your readers in a way that you couldn't match. Any direct quotation should be indicated by double quote marks. You need to write the page number for every in-text reference you give - even if you have not used a direct quotation.

"Some of our public hospitals are a mess and a shambles." (Maibelea 2011: 35)
Please note the reference markers will be outside the full stop.

If, however, you choose to leave out "and a shambles" you would write:
"Some of our public hospitals are a mess" (Maibela 2011: 35).
In this case your reference marker would come in front of the full stop because of what you have quoted didn't end in a full stop.

  • Long quotations - example

Long quotations (longer than 40 words) should not be set out in the way short ones are. With short quotations you use double quote marks around the quotation and write the quoted phrase or sentence as part of your paragraph. Long quotations should be set out as paragraphs on their own and be indented from either side. (Jones 2012:10)

You don't need quotation marks around direct quotations set out in this way. Please note the position of the full stop.


How to Create a Reference List in Harvard style
  • Understand the meaning of "Title Case" and "Sentence case".
    Punctuation: It is very important that you use the right punctuation and that the order of details in the reference is also correct.
  • Book and journal titles are not italicised or placed in quotation marks.
  • Only first words of the article title and words that normally begin with a capital letter are capitalised.
  • Some commonly used abbreviations:
    • c. = circa (about, approximately in time)
    • ch. = chapter
    • ed. = edition
    • et al. = and others
    • fig; figs = figure(s)
    • ill; ills = illustrator(s)
    • p. = page(s)
    • para; paras = paragraph(s)
    • pt; pts = part(s)
    • rev = revised
    • suppl = Supplement

Examples of the most common publication types are listed below.

For examples of bibliographic references, click on the type of reference you would like to see:






Please notice where the name of the publishing house "Limpopo Publishers" in this case goes and the name of the city (not state or country) where the book was published. If, however, the plase of publication is likely to be unknown to readers you can add the country ("SA" in this case). Also notice how and where to indicate what edition of the book it is. If you are referencing a book that is in its first edition you don't include that information in your reference item.

Title of the book is given in sentence case.

Main elements of a reference to a book:
Author/Editor/Compiler's surname, initials(full stop after each initial). Year of publication. Title of the book. # edn. (if not the 1st) Place of publication: Publisher's name.

Single author Boyes, T.J. 2005. Conquering the north: agriculture with little rain. 2nd edn. Polokwane, SA: Mosby.
2 - 6 authors Murray, P.R, Rosenthal, K.S., Kobayashi, G.S. & Pfaller, M.A. 2002. Medical microbiology. 4th edn. St. Louis: Mosby.
More than 6 authors** Fauci, A.S., Braunwald, E., Isselbacher, K.J., Wilson, J.D., Martin, J.B., Kasper, D.L., et al, editors. 1998. Harrison's principles of internal medicine. 14th edn. New York: McGraw Hill.

**Give the first six names in full and add "et al". The authors are listed in the order in which they appear on the title page.


Editor(s) or compiler(s) as author Gilstrap, L.C. 3rd, Cunningham, F.G., Van Dorsten, J.P. eds. 2002. Operative obstetrics. 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill. Bowness, S. ed. 2006. Experimenting with South African agriculture. Howick, SA: Midlands Press.

Follow the same methods used with authors but use the word "editor" or "editors" in full after the name/s. The word editor or editors must be in lower case. (Do NOT confuse with "ed." which is used for "edition")


Organisation as an author Royal Adelaide Hospital; University of Adelaide, Department of Clinical Nursing. 2001. Compendium of nursing research and practice development, 1999-2000. Adelaide (Australia): Adelaide University.


Different editions

First Edition:
Heffner, L.J. & Schust, D.J. 2001. The reproductive system at a glance. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 2001..

Second plus Editions**:
Heffner, L.J. & Schust, D.J. 2001. The reproductive system at a glance. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 2001.

**The first edition of a book is never mentioned. However from the 2nd edition onwards always give the specific edition of the book, eg 2nd edn.


Chapter in a book Gilstrap, L.C. 3rd, Cunningham, F.G. & Van Dorsten. 2004. Rainwater harversting. In: Bowness, S. ed. Experimenting with South African agriculture. Howick, SA: Midlands Press. p. 45-57.

Chapter in a book:

  • Note where the word "ed" or "eds" (for editor or editors) goes in your reference item.
  • Notice the first author has "3rd" immediately after his initials. American publications tend to indicate in this way that an author is the second or third generation to carry the family name and initials.
  • NB - also note that you reference a chapter, as shown, only if you used a singel chapter with authors in a book. If you refer to more than one chapter in the edited book then simply reference the entire book.

Elements of the reference:
Author's (of the chapter) surname initials. Title of chapter. In: Editor's surname initials, ed. Title of the book. # ed. [if not 1st] Place of publication: Publisher's name; Year of publication. p. #. [page numbers of chapter]

  • Abbreviate page numbers to p. eg p. 12-26.
  • Abbreviate numbers where appropriate eg. p. 122-8.


e-book Netter, F.H. 2012. Atlas of human anatomy [Internet]. New York: Saunders. [cited 2016 Aug 17]. Available from ClinicalKey:!/browse/book/3-s2.0-C20100686068 .


Recommended to always cite an article as a print copy except when pages clearly indicate e3-e5.

Main elements of a journal reference:
Author's surname, Initials., Author's surname, Initials. Year. Title of article. Title of Journal. Volume number (issue number): page numbers.


Standard article Halpern, S.D., Ubel, P.A., Caplan, A.L. 2002. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. New England Journal of Medicine. 347(4):284-7.
More than 6 authors** Rose, M.E., Huerbin, M.B., Melick, J., Marion, D.W., Palmer, A.M., Schiding, J.K., et al. 2002. Regulation of interstitial excitatory amino acid concentrations after cortical contusion injury. Brain Research. 935(1-2):40-6.

**Give the first six names in full and add "et al". The authors are listed in the order in which they appear on the title page.


Organisation as author Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. 2012. Hypertension, insulin, and proinsulin in participants with impaired glucose tolerance. Hypertension. 40(5):679-86.
No author 2002. 21st century heart solution may have a sting in the tail. Britsh Medical Journal. 325(7357):184.


Supplement and/or parts

Volume with supplement Geraud, G., Spierings, E.L., Keywood, C. 2002. Tolerability and safety of frovatriptan with short- and long-term use for treatment of migraine and in comparison with sumatriptan. Headache. 42 Suppl 2:S93-9.
Issue with supplement Glauser, T.A. 2002. Integrating clinical trial data into clinical practice. Neurology. 58(12 Suppl 7):S6-12.
Volume with part Abend, S.M., Kulish, N. 2002. The psychoanalytic method from an epistemological viewpoint. International Journal of Psychoanaasys. 83(Pt 2):491-5.
Issue with part Ahrar, K., Madoff, D.C., Gupta, S., Wallace, M.J., Price, R.E., Wright, K.C. 2002. Development of a large animal model for lung tumors. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. 13(9 Pt 1):923-8.




Cochrane Review Curioni, C., André, C. Rimonabant for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD006162. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006162.pub2.


Elements of a reference to a conference paper:

Editor's/Authors surname Initials, editor. Title of the Paper. Number and Name of Conference; Date of conference; City where conference took place: Place of publication.

Conferences Christensen, S., Oppacher, F. An analysis of Koza's computational effort statistic for genetic programming. Paper presented at the 5th European Conference on Genetic Programming; 2002 Apr 3-5; Kinsdale:Ireland.

Thesis / Dissertation Borkowski, M.M. Infant sleep and feeding: a telephone survey of Hispanic Americans [dissertation]. Mount Pleasant (MI): Central Michigan University; 2002.


Newspaper Tynan, T. Medical improvements lower homicide rate: study sees drop in assault rate. The Washington Post. 2002 Aug 12;Sect. A:2 (col. 4).

Unpublished Material Tian, D., Araki, H., Stahl, E., Bergelson, J., Kreitman, M. Signature of balancing selection in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. In press 2002.


Audiovisual / Electronic material Anderson, S.C., Poulsen, K.B. Anderson's electronic atlas of hematology [CD-ROM]. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2002.


Pamphlet Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Medicines and driving [pamphlet]. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia; 1998. DR-7.

(if available include additional information eg place of production, printer)


Dictionary and similar references Dorland's illustrated medical dictionary. 29th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 2000. Filamin; p. 675.

Note: Include the definition looked up - in this case "Filamin"


Legal Material

Public law: Veterans Hearing Loss Compensation Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-9, 115 Stat. 11 (May 24, 2001).

Unenacted bill: Healthy Children Learn Act, S. 1012, 107th Cong., 1st Sess. (2001).

Hearing: Arsenic in Drinking Water: An Update on the Science, Benefits and Cost: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Environment, Technology and Standards of the House Comm. on Science, 107th Cong., 1st Sess. (Oct. 4, 2001).


Elements of a citation:

Author/Editor/Organisation's name [Internet]. Title of the page. Place of publication: Publisher's name; [updated year month day; cited year month day]. Available from: URL


Internet International Association for the Study of Pain [Internet].PAIN retains ranking as most influential. IASP; [updated 2002 May 16; cited 2002 Jul 9]. Available from:

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