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Referencing is a critical component of any scientific or academic work. Referencing basically means the acknowledgement by an author or a writer that he or she has used other author’s ideas and materials in the course of compiling their work. In the absence of use of referencing, a person stands at the risk of being accused of plagiarism – the use of other people’s opinions as your own.

The Harvard style is mostly used in citing sources of information in academic circles. It is mostly used by the students to acknowledge that they have used other people’s works in the writing of a paper, article or any other form of academic production.

One of the critical components of the Harvard Style is known as the in-text citation. This refers to the acknowledgement that one has used other people’s ideas when creating a piece of a given wok. When using the Harvard Style, the citation must include the following:

         (a). The author or the editor of the cited work

         (b). The year in which the cited work was published

How should a person write citations using the Harvard Style?

There are some rules to be followed when writing citations depending on the number of people who wrote the cited work. The examples of citations that will be given below will be instrumental in breaking down the citation rules for easier understanding. The examples are not drawn from real works since they are for illustrative purposes only.

Citing the work of a single author

A recent study explored the effectiveness of using soft power in containing terrorism (Jared, 2005).


Jared (2005) has investigated the effectiveness of the use of soft power in containing terrorism.

Citing two or three authors

If you are citing a work that has been written by two or three authors, you must include the names of all the authors

Citing two authors

Recent research indicate that the number of terrorist groups in U.S.  is on the rise (Morgan & Stephen, 2009).

Evidence shows that jogging in the afternoons reduces the level of stress (Case, Gren & Moses, 2017).

Citing four or more authors

When the work has got four or more authors, the word et al. must be used after the first author’s name. Suppose you want to cite a work written by Aden Keynes, Moab Jones, Samuel Cliff and Zeus Drakes.

Research indicates that the Allied powers used biological weapons against their adversaries (Aden et al, 2016).

Citing works written by the same author within a given year

There are instances where one has to cite the works of an author written at different times within the same year. The author may have written a recent version of his previous work. In the citing of such works, one must use a lower case after the date to show the works were written at different time periods.

The freedom of expression has come under scathing attacks in the recent years (Apriori, 2016a; Apriori2016b). A semicolon is used to separate the two works.

Secondary references

Secondary reference is used when one cannot trace the original work. However, one should be cautious when using second references as they may not be authentic. One should thus strive to find the original work.

According to Zaer (2001) as cited by (Gase & Ranse, 2001) most soldiers develop some fear during heated battles.

Citing of a work with no obvious author

One may come across some work whose author cannot be traced. In such a case, one should use what is known as the “corporate author”. A corporate author can be the name of an organist ion or government agency.

The number of mental patients is estimated to be 12400 (Ministry of Health, 2015).

Citing multiple publications by different authors

Multiple publications by different authors must be sorted alphabetically by author’s last name. For example:

(Jared, 1988; Owlson, 2003)

Writing of references

This appears at the end of the paper. The in-text citations must be featured in the reference list. Some of the main items that are found in every reference list include the name of the author or editor, the date of publication and the title of the item.

Basic rules

  1. Arrange the list alphabetically by author’s surname
  2. Start the reference list on a new page. Use the words “reference list” .This should centered on the top of the page
  3. If a reference has got more than three authors, only write the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”
  4. The date of publication always follows the author(s) name(s).
  5. All the names of the authors or editors must appear in the reference list irrespective of how many they are

The rules on how various sources of information appear on the reference list differ.

General format

Book Author’s last Name, First Initial, and Year of Publication. Title of book capitalized in the sentence case. City of Publication: Publisher.

Article Author’s Last Name, First initial & Second Author’s Last Name, First Initial, Year of Publication. Article title is capitalized like a sentence without the use of quotation marks. Journal Title (in italics), Volume Number (Issue Number): pp. pages. 

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