Harvard style is a citation system used across a wide range of academic disciplines. Despite being one of the most commonly used referencing styles, there is no single or definitive version of Harvard style: its usage varies from institution to institution. For example, the Harvard style adopted by the University of Leeds differs from University College London’s Harvard style.

This guide, then, provides an overview of how to format sources using a common variation of the Harvard style. However, always check your own university or academic institution’s Harvard formatting guidelines before starting your project.

Quick Overview

Harvard style is a parenthetical referencing system. This means that sources are cited directly within the body of your text, without the need for footnotes. Harvard style consists of two main components: in-text citations and a reference list.

In-text citations

In-text citations appear in the main body of your essay, enabling readers to quickly identify the sources you have referenced without disrupting the flow of the sentences in which they appear.

Harvard in-text citation example:

“I think therefore I am” (Descartes, 1637).

Reference list

A reference list enables readers to retrieve any of the sources cited in your work. This list should be arranged alphabetically and located at the end of your essay.

Harvard reference list entry example:

Fiell, C. and Fiell, P. (2012) Design of the 20th Century. Köln: Taschen.


👈  Explore the Harvard Referencing Guide in the menu to learn more.