Harvard Referencing Essay Format

Table of Contents

It is known that students during their school life have to write various assignments and different rules have to be used, especially when citing information recourses.

What is the Harvard Method of Referencing?

Harvard format is the one that is widely and primarily used by students and in our article we will explain how to provide a reference in the text using Harvard style, what are the rules and show on examples how to reference a paper using Harvard style.

Harvard Essay Format

There are two parts in Harvard referencing: Reference List and In-text referencing. We will explain how each type should be cited accordingly.

  1. The format of an In-text citation in Harvard style consists of the brief information of the source in the text, where usually only the author’s last name, the date of publication and the page number where the quotation or paraphrase has been taken from needs to be included.
  2. Citation in the reference list in the contrary is the list of all cited references used in the work. It should be organized alphabetically the author’s last name or, if there are several authors, by the last name of the first author. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t write the full name, just the last name and initials of the first name without full stops. If there is no author references should be ordered alphabetically by the first word of the work’s title.

For example, check the difference:

In-text citation in Harvard style:

Campbell (2012) wrote …

                          The main idea of the referencing … (Campbell 2012) or if the quote was taken fully Campbell (2012, p. 38)

Reference list:    Campbell, A. (2008) The first year in Michigan. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford press.

Harvard Citation Rules

It is known that each source has its own citing rules. We gathered and prepared examples of Harvard style citations using in-text and reference list rules.

  1. If you cite a book with one author using In-text citation requires the last name of the author and the year of publication that has to be taken into brackets, for example (Campbell 2012). If the quote is taken fully then the name is placed before the brackets and the page number, as well as the year of publication, has to be mentioned in the brackets, like Campbell (2012, p. 38) or if referencing to a range of pages (2012, pp. 38-41).

Using Harvard books citation rules in the reference list you should remember the following structure:

Author’s name(s), initials. (the year of publication) Title. Edition. Place of publication: publisher.

Campbell, A. (2008) The first year in Michigan. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford press.

So now let’s understand how in-text citations are written.

  • In 2 or 3 authors in-text citation place all the authors one after another separating with commas. There are 2 was to cite: 1. All surnames go first and after in brackets you state the year and page like Campbell, Orwell, Smith (2008, p. 34) or everything go inside the brackets (Campbell, Orwell, Smith, 2008, p. 34).
  • Do you know when should you use ‘et al’ in Harvard referencing? When there are 4 or more authors state the surname of the first author and put ‘et al’ after and use the same two ways of citing as in the previous paragraph. For example, Campbell et al (2008, p. 34) or (Campbell et al, 2008, p. 34).
  • Sometimes it might happen that one author released several works in one year, so in this case following Harvard book citation rules use letters after the year to differentiate them from each other, like Campbell (2008a, p. 34) or (Campbell, 2008b, p. 34).
  • If there is no author, use either the title of the work in italics or the organization responsible for the post (Oxford press, 2009, p. 100-103).
  • According to the Harvard method of referencing if there is no year of the publication just put ‘no date’ instead of it, for example, (Campbell, no date, p. 34).
  • If an author had several editions of the same work, there is no need to cite them separately, just only once include the author’s name and the year of the editions separated by the semicolons. For example, Campbell (2008; 2010) or (Campbell, 2008; 2010).
  • When you use Harvard format to cite multiple works in one parentheses, write the in-text citations with semicolons between them, like (Campbell, 2008, p. 34; Orwell, 2009; Smith, 2008, pp. 100-103).
  • In case when you are citing a secondary source you should always mention ‘cited in’ and the original author, e.g. Campbell 2008 (cited in Orwell, 2009, pp. 101-102) or (Campbell, 2008, cited in Orwell, 2009, pp. 101-102).

When you work with the reference list, follow the rules below:

  1. If you cite an edited book, you should remember to mention NOT the author’s name, but the editors followed by (eds.)

Johnson, P.T. (eds.) (2018) The first year in Michigan. Oxford: Oxford press.

  1. When you cite a chapter in an edited book the structure will look as follows:

Author’s name (year published) ‘Title of the chapter’ in editor’s name, initials (ed(s).) Title of the book. Edition. Place of publication: publisher, page number(s).

Campbell, A. (2008) ‘My first summer’ in Johnson, P.T. (ed.) The first year in Michigan. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford press, pp.20-23.

  1. When you cite an e-book the rules are the following:

Author’s surname, initials. (year published). Title. Edition. Name of the e-book collection [online]. Available at: URL (Accessed: day month year)

Campbell, J.J., Orwell, A. and Smith, O. (2008) The first year in Michigan. E-book library [online]. Available at: https://www.adcb.com/modern-literature/21st_century (Accessed: 20 October 2019)

  1. When you cite a journal using Harvard style you should keep in mind that

Author names. (year) ‘Title of the article’. Title of the newspaper/journal {Every Word Should Be Capitalized}, volume (season/issue), page numbers.

Campbell, A. (2008) ‘Examples of citation in Harvard style’. The Citation Rules, 7(21), pp.23-24.

When you cite an online journal, combine the first part of a journal citation rules and second part of an e-book:

Campbell, A. (2008) ‘Examples of citation in Harvard style’. The Citation Rules, 7(21) [online]. Available at: https://www.adcb.com/citation-rules/harvard-style (Accessed: 20 October 2019)

  1. If you need to cite a newspaper, you should

Author name, initials. (year) ‘The title of the article’, Newspaper Title (edition if applicable), day month, page(s).

Campbell, A. (2008) ‘Examples of citation in Harvard style’, The Citation Rules (Monday edition), 20 October, pp.23-24.

However, it might happen that you need to cite non-print materials, like film or TV program, in this case the rules are the following:

  1. When you cite a film you should adhere to the following rules:

Title of the film (the year of distribution) Directed by director’s name [format – like film, documentary]. Place of distribution: Distribution Company.

Explorers of the North (2005) Directed by Alan Johnes [Documentary]. Washington D.C.: National Geographic

2. If you refer to the particular TV program, the basic format is as follows:

‘Title of the episode’ (the year of transmission) Title of TV show, Series number, episode number. Name of the streaming channel, day month.

‘The Liar’ (2017) Prison Break, Series 5, episode 3. Netflix, 18 April 2017.

3. For citing a music album, please remember the following rules:

Artist name (the year of publication) Title of the album [format – video clip/CD] Place of distribution: distribution company.

P-Square (2007) Game Over [Visual Album] New York: Square Records.

If the music was taken online, for example from a website, please in the end add Available at: URL

(Accessed: day month year)

P-Square (2007) Game Over [Visual Album] New York: Square Records. Available at: https://www.psquare.com/album/gameover-visual-album/ (Accessed: 20 October 2019)

  1. While citing a website you should state

The author surname, initial(s). (Year of publishing) Title of page/site [Online]. Available at: URL (Accessed: day month year)

Campbell, A. (2008) The Citation Rules [online]. Available at: https://www.adcb.com/citation-rules/harvard-style (Accessed: 20 October 2019)

As you see the rules of citing differ from the source that is why it is important to make sure to check each and every reference on correctness.

What is a Harvard Essay Format and How Should I Use It?

A Harvard essay format requires following such specific rules as:

  1. Each paragraph of the Harvard essay format should be highly structured.
  2. The Introduction should contain a thesis statement that presents the main idea of the paper.
  3. Every first sentence of the body paragraph is the topic sentence that tells the readers what the paragraph is about, supported after with some details. Each paragraph should be logically finished with a closing sentence that summarizes the paragraph.
  4. Each paragraph should be logically connected and like “flow” from one to another.
  5. The In-text citation will look as follows (Campbell, A.F.,2012,5) meaning that the citation has been taken from the book written by A.F. Campbell in 2012 page 5.
  6. The Conclusion is one of the most important parts. The first sentence needed to restate and remind the thesis statement. After that sum up the ideas raised in the paper and conclude with a powerful message to your readers.
  7. The reference list should be used according to the type of materials used.

When we talk about the Harvard essay format, we have to pay attention even to the title page. It should follow such rules as:

  • The title is written in ALL capital letters in the middle of the page;
  • After three lines space down the author’s name should be written in small letters;
  • Four lines down write the name of the class;
  • In one lane down is the name of the professor;
  • Right after that place the initials of the school;
  • Below the school goes the city and the state/region;
  • The final lane is the date

!!! Remember that the font is Times New Roman/Arial 12 pt, NOT bold, underlined or in italics.

The field borders are 1 inch from each side.

If it sounds complicated, we prepared the cover page written in the Harvard style essay template for easier understanding. 


Harvard referencing cases

It might happen that you have to cite not only the paper in Harvard format, but some cases and legislation documents as well. So how to do it properly? First of all you should remember some rules:

  • for Acts of Parliament there are no full stops at the end;
  • for Bills don’t use any word in Italics.

And now lets discuss each type separately:

  • When you cite Acts of Parliament the format is as follows:

In-text: The name of the act and relevant section year (jurisdiction abbreviation), section

‘The civil rights fighter reporting’ … (Civil Rights Protection (Jane Gleams Wilson) Act 2014 (NY), s. 3)


Section 3 of the Civil Rights Protection (Jane Gleams Wilson) Act 2014 (NY) states that …

Reference list:    Civil Rights Protection (Jane Gleams Wilson) Act 2014 (NY)

  • When we talk about Bills the format is as follows:


(The name of the Bill (number) year (the jurisdiction abbreviation)) 

(Civil Rights Amendment Bill (No 5) 2015 (Ny))

Reference list:

Civil Rights Amendment Bill (No 5) 2015 (Ny)     – pay attention that the name of the bill is not in italics, as it’s “unpublished” source

  • If you need to cite Cases then the structure is:

In-text and reference list have the same structure:

The title of the case (year) reporter abbreviation page number

The case of Mills v Holms (2001) PTD 2 declares that ….

So as you see, no matter is you reference a report in Harvard style, or use Harvard style while writing a research paper, there are particular rules that should be followed.

If you still feel like you need help, we are 24/7 ready to assist you and answer all your questions about how to write a paper using a Harvard style.

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