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Cite It Right: Guide to Harvard Referencing Style: Reference List & Bibliography

This is the online version of the 4th edition of the Glucksman Library's Cite It Right: Guide to Harvard Referencing Style.


The terms ‘reference list’ and ‘bibliography’ are sometimes used interchangeably. Be aware that there are differences between the two.

The reference list is a detailed list of all references cited within the text of a paper.

A bibliography is also a detailed list of references and background reading, but these references may or may not have been cited within the text.

Every reference must have enough information for the reader to find the source again. The most common mistake in the reference list is leaving out an essential element, e.g. the year or the publisher. The second most common mistake in the reference list is inconsistency in punctuation and capitalisation.

Rules for Referencing

  • References should be in alphabetical order by author surname
  • References must not be numbered
  • The layout, punctuation and capitalisation of all references must be consistent:
    • Capitalise book, article and chapter titles in sentence style
    • Capitalise all personal names and places
    • Capitalise journal titles
    • Put the main source title in italics
  • For non-traditional material, references should include details of format and/or medium after the main source title: [DVD], [speech], [microfiche]...

Use hanging indents to visually differentiate between references. In a hanging indent all but the first line of each reference is indented from the left margin.

Referencing Electronic Sources

  • References should include a stable web address preferably a persistent identifier such as a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or a handle (e.g. the URL from an item in an institutional repository:
  • References should have an “accessed” date in the format 02 Jan 2016 unless the reference includes a persistent identifier such as a DOI or handle. For example, an “accessed” date should be omitted for references to journal articles if the DOI is included.
  • References that are likely to be altered or destroyed should include a time in the format hh:mm:ss.
  • Note that unlike the previous three editions of Cite It Right, there is no need to include “[online]” for references that include a web address.

As stated above, Harvard UL recommends the use of permanent, stable identifiers such as DOIs. This is because URLs can change or “break” but a DOI will always redirect to the original source. Not all electronic material has a DOI so you should use the URL that best leads back to your source and not to a results page or other dynamic webpage. To check a link, open the URL in a new browser window and see if it directs to the correct page.

DOIs are usually given as alphanumerical strings such as 10.1109/ICGSE.2006.261229. To find the corresponding source you can either prefix the string with or put the string into an Internet search engine. When using a DOI in a reference you can use:



available: doi: 10.1109/ICGSE.2006.261229