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The Dos and Don’ts of Harvard Referencing

Published by at May 12th, 2023 , Revised On February 5, 2024

Students at all levels use Harvard referencing. The main notion of this referencing style is to allow the writer to acknowledge the sources of information used in their work by giving proper credit to the authors. 

Introduction to Harvard Referencing

Harvard referencing is the most used citation style in academic writing. Harvard referencing style will help the writer to avoid plagiarism. This kind of referencing is commonly used in many academic disciplines. For example, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

It is important to understand the need to reference.  Any researcher ought to reference their work. Citations and references show that the researcher has done proper research to provide those findings in his paper. That analysis will also give credit to other people’s work who have helped make his research easy by already working in that field of study. 

The need is there for reference to ensure that you are using reliable sources of information rather than your own opinions. Moreover, it lets the reader get further information from your stated resource. It lets the readers follow up on the information they might utilise in their work. 

Readers can conveniently follow those sources. Furthermore, it strengthens your writing and proves your points. It allows for avoiding plagiarism, citing someone else’s work without proper credit. This is considered cheating; any student may avoid it by referring to the work.

The Dos of Harvard Referencing

There are some minute details that researchers, writers, and students must keep in mind to present their work unquestionably. Writing accurate references is as important to the research as the citation. 

There are two components of referencing. One is the In-text citation, and the other is a reference list.  The following are the things that a writer must keep in mind while using the Harvard referencing style. 

Proper Use Of In-Text Citations

The in-text citation is when a student or writer refers to one’s someone else’s work. It generally includes the author’s name and the year the study paper or essay was published. In other words, the in-text citation is the shortened citation that refers the reader to the full citation mentioned at the end of your research paper.

It is worth mentioning here that if you mention a specific part of the source, you must include a source locator. It will assist the reader in locating the source easily. 

For instance, if you refer to a book, you must cite the page number. For websites, you must indicate the heading or the paragraph number. 

Correct Formatting of References

The reference list is typically stated at the bottom of any research paper. It includes all the minor details and references you used in your work. For instance, if you are planning on referencing a journal article, the basic things that the writer needs are the following:

  • The Name Of The Author
  • Year Of Publication Of The Article
  • Title Of The Article
  • Title Of The Journal, 
  • The Volume And Issue Name Of The Reference
  • The Page Range Of The Article

All of the information, as mentioned earlier, is either on the journal’s front page or the front cover. Moreover, if you are referencing a website, you need to include the following details:

  • Authors name
  • The year when that page was created
  • Title of the webpage
  • URL
  • The date you accessed the webpage

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The Don’ts of Harvard Referencing


The first and foremost con of not using the proper Harvard referencing is that it can lead to charges of plagiarism. Suppose you write vague or inaccurate references and fail to provide proper credit to the original authors and the sources of information you have used.

In that case, you have taken credit for the work of others. This serious academic offence can result in punishing action and a degraded academic record. Therefore, students and writers must always consider giving references clearly and accurately. 

Incorrect Citation Styles

Incorrect citation styles can severely affect the marking and credibility of your academic research. One of the major consequences of using incorrect citation styles is that it can lead to disorder and inconsistencies in the research proposal or the final draft, making it challenging for the readers to track the sources and comprehend the statements presented. 

Incorrect citation styles can also lead to bad grades, which indicate a lack of attention to detail and a failure to follow educational standards. Generally, using the correct citation style in research papers and academic writing is paramount to ensure precision, credibility, and dedication to academic standards.

Incomplete or Inaccurate References

Only complete or accurate references can significantly positively impact the quality and credibility of an academic assignment. Writing vague references at the end of your research paper can have many disadvantages. 

Moreover, incomplete or inaccurate references can affect your research paper’s overall grade and accuracy. Since references are an important segment of academic writing. Accurate references let the raiders use actual sources of information to make your point more valid and strong.  

Without proper references, the reader may question the validity of the information presented in the assignment. It may lead to a failure of credibility and a lower grade. 

Furthermore, inaccurate or incomplete references may make it difficult for future researchers to follow up on the sources used in the assignment, blocking the research progress in that field.


Harvard referencing style is the most commonly used referencing style for students worldwide. There are a few things that every student must consider and avoid while using this referencing style. 

While using this style, the writer must make sure that he is using proper in-text citations, the format is correct, and the spelling and grammatical errors are not there. Moreover, it is to be considered here that if you fail to give due credit to the original author, you can be held accountable for cheating and plagiarising someone else’s work.

The dos of Harvard referencing include using proper in-text citations, formatting references correctly, and maintaining consistency in citation style throughout the document. It is also important to use accurate and complete references to avoid any issues with plagiarism.

The don’ts of Harvard referencing include plagiarising or using incorrect citation styles. It is also important to avoid incomplete or inaccurate references that do not provide the necessary information to identify the sources.

Harvard referencing is important because it lets anyone give credit to the original authors of the sources. It not only helps to avoid plagiarism but demonstrates academic integrity. It is also a widely accepted citation style in academic writing.

Absolutely, there are many online citation tools available that can help students all around the world with Harvard referencing. However, students and researchers must check the citations generated by these online tools and their credibility to ensure they are correct. 

Suppose you must check if you use the correct Harvard referencing style. You must consult with academic resources, such as your professor, academic advisor, or your peers, who have a piece of better knowledge.  These people can provide guidance and support to help you master Harvard referencing and produce high-quality academic work.

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