Harvard (author-date) FAQ's

What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?

A reference list is the detailed list of references that are cited in your work. Therefore, it includes the full bibliographical information on sources, so that the reader can identify and then locate the source. A bibliography is a detailed list of references but also includes background information on sources, so that the reader can identify and then locate the source. Different courses may require just a reference list, just a bibliography, or even both. It is better to check with your tutor first. Both the reference list and the bibliography are located at the end of the work. When using the Harvard style of referencing, both the bibliography and the reference list are arranged in alphabetical order by the author's surname, or title (for when there is no author).

What do I do if the publication has no date?

You simply write 'no date' in brackets. For example, (Smith and Jones, no date). 

  • Example of in-text citation with no date: He was seen by many to be a great man (BBC History, no date). 
  • Example of reference list entry with no date: BBC History (no date) Duke of Wellington (1749-1852). Available at: (Accessed: 18 June 2015). 

Can I mix referencing styles? 

No you should never mix referencing styles. Always be consistent. 

Should I use italics?

For a printed or electronic book, the book title is in italics, but for journal articles the name of the journal is in italics, and for newspaper articles the title of the newspaper is in italics. Check the iCite guide or Cite Them Right Online for more detailed examples if you are ever stuck on a reference.

When should I omit page numbers?

If you are summarising what an author has argued in a book or an article, you do not need to give page numbers.

Does the full stop go before or after in-text citations?

Even when quoting, do not use a full stop until after your in-text citation in bracket because the in-text citation is part of your sentence. 

Can I cite lots of sources in the same sentence?

Yes but only cite more than one author in the same sentence if they make similar points or use similar methods or evidence. Put the sources in chronological order and separate each one with a semi-colon. e.g: A number of different studies (Jamieson, 2011; Hollingworth 2012; Hatfield, 2013; Rogers, 2015) suggested that...

What should I do if I list more than one source of the same author?

If you list different sources by the same author which are reproduced in the same year, label the first source a, the second b, etc. Do this in reverse chronological order with the most recent first. e.g: In his study of the work of Dawkins, Harris (2007a) emphasised the use of rationality in the former's argument. However, it is clear that this was not the only strength of the original author (2007b).

The reference list would look like this;

  1. Harris, S. (2007a) Dawkins: a history. London: Evolutionary Press.
  2. Harris, S. (2007b) Evolutionary thought. London: Evolutionary Press. 

Are in-text citations included in my word count?

Yes, they are counted in your word count. However, you reference list and bibliography are not counted in your word count. 

What are DOIs?

DOIs are digital object identifiers- a character string used to uniquely intensify a digital object.

How should I cite non-Roman scripts e.g. Chinese, Arabic?

Cite them right online has some helpful examples. Enter "University of Birmingham" if prompted for a login.

What sources can I legally use?

At present copyright law allows only small extracts of items to be copied legally provided that they are referenced. Following the guidance here fulfils that perfectly. Only copy what is completely necessary, and when the use falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • personal private study
  • illustration for instruction
  • non-commercial research
  • parody pastiche or caricature
  • criticism and review
  • quotations

Students' use will fall under personal private study, criticism and review, illustration, and/ or quotation. For further information go to our pages on copyright

What is the difference between using (Accessed:...) and (Downloaded:...)?

Use (Accessed:...) when you have simply viewed the source on the internet, whereas use (Downloaded:...) when you have specifically downloaded something, for example a book onto your Kindle. 


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