A friend asked me today, “wanted to ask for your helpful points when it comes to doing harvard referencing (bibliography)” I figured that he asked me, rather than another of our mutual friends – who is educated to a much higher level in the matters of prose – because I was available rather than for any other reason, as our mutual friend is locked down right now by the Sabbath.

Putting aside the phrasing of his question, I suppose that he meant something like, “How do I put Harvard references in my essay?” or “What are Harvard references?”.

Before I go on to add the ‘correct’ way to reference a book, article or whatever, I must state that this is the method I have happened upon in books and through my own experience with academic (University) papers. I’ve consulted a few books and a couple of, reputable, web sources and I seem to be correct, but in case I’m not: I am not held responsible if any essays or papers that you produce contain the wrong type of referencing for your academic institution.

Firstly, what he meant by ‘bibliography’ was ‘references’, since a bibliography is a list of books, articles or whatever that were used to research certain aspects in an essay or paper, but have not been referenced implicitly. This is used to show the reader that you have done your homework, and that they should use this list of books and articles as a suggestion for further reading.

When referencing something in an academic paper – something I was never taught, but have picked up and read about over the years – the author (that’s you) needs to select a block of prose from a source that supports the argument or supposition they are trying to put across to the reader. Usually, this is pretty simple to do, especially in studies of Literature, History or the Sciences. I’ve never written an academic paper for any other subject, but it wont be much different.

The basic set up is this:

  • Make your point, or state your argument
  • Provide an example of where or when this happens
  • Reference a source that backs up your argument

The example I provided for my friend used text from Stephen fry’s newest (at the time of blogging) book, ‘The Fry Chronicles’. I will share this example, but first I need to point out that I do not own the copyright for the block of text I will reference and that I am using it as an example on how to reference a text.

Main Body

In my main body of text, I will provide my argument and back it up with a reference to a source that supports my argument.

Stephen Fry often confuses friends when bragging to them that he has bought the latest technological gadget, with hilarious results.

“Earlier in the year [1984] I had called Hugh [Laurie] up excitedly. ‘I’ve just bought a new Mactintosh. Cost me a thousand pounds.’
Hugh enjoyed about a week of relaying the news of my fantastic expenditure on something as absurd and unworthy an outlay as a raincoat before he discovered that this Macintosh was a new type of computer.” (Fry 2010, 341)


In my references section, I will provide a more expanded link to the sources. The information I have provided in the parentheses along with my quote will be used to look up the correct reference in my list (provided in order of appearance in the paper’s main body)

Fry, Stephen (2010). The Fry Chronicles. Michael Jospeh (Penguin)

How To Reference

Now that I have provided my example, let’s dissect it, and see what we can learn.

(Fry 2010, 341)

This is placed directly after my quotation and provides the reader with enough information to find the full details of the source in my references section. It provides the following information (in order):

  • Surname of the author
  • Year of publication
  • Page number (or range of pages) the quotation can be found on

Again, this information is used by the reader, to find more information about the source you have referenced. The reader will check the references section, to find more information about this source; so let’s take a look at that.

Fry, Stephen (2010). The Fry Chronicles. Michael Jospeh (Penguin)

The above is the example listing from my mini paper or essay, and will be found in the references section as a discrete entity. These are always found on individual lines, and sometimes italicised. It contains the following information (in order):

  • Full name(s) of the author or authors, surname first
  • The year of publication
  • The title of the book, article or website
  • The name of the publisher

Often, by not always, the ISBN number is added at the end of each listing. This allows the reader to find the book or article, should you make a typographical error in listing the name of it. If this is a web source, then a ‘permalink’ is ALWAYS required, otherwise how will the reader find the source?

If there is more than one author, they are connected with an ampersand (&). In the case of their being more than two authors, the main author is usually listed followed by ‘et. al’ which is Latin and has a meaning similar to ‘and the others’.

I hope that this has helped any who are looking for help with Harvard Referencing.


Jamie is a .NET developer specialising in ASP.NET MVC websites and services, with a background in WinForms and Games Development. When not programming using .NET, he is either learning about .NET Core (and usually building something cross platform with it), speaking Japanese to anyone who'll listen, learning about languages, writing for this blog, or writing for a blog about Retro Gaming (which he runs with his brother)