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Harvard referencing

Harvard referencing is the main referencing system used by the University. We have created a guide with examples below.

I want to reference...


You will find Hansard, government sources and unpublished sources in the Other sources section.

The AV and Multimedia section includes audio, visual, moving image, performance and computer/mobile software.

Downloadable concise guides

Concise guides (including faculty specific examples)

Harvard guide for the blind and visually impaired


Common questions

How do I use the Harvard guide?

These guidelines have been developed to bring consistency to the practice of citing references within the University so that there are documents and web pages to which all students and staff can refer. The Harvard style emphasises the name of the author and the publication year in the text with full bibliographic details in a reference list. Unlike other styles, there is no manual to which you can refer. This has created variations within the Harvard style so that each University has had to specify which variety of Harvard to follow. Our guidelines have been developed to bring consistency to the practice of citing references within the University so that there is a document to which all students and staff can refer.

Citing references informs your reader where you found your information and is the accepted way of giving credit to the ideas and evidence on which your argument is based. It is standard academic practice and you should do this in all the works you create. The style in these guidelines is very similar to the Harvard-style referencing format used in Microsoft Word. This is shown as Harvard – Anglia in the Style section of the References tab. It is also based on the publication, Cite Them Right (Pears and Shields, 2019) and Anglia Ruskin University's (2019) Guide to Harvard style of referencing.

Facts, ideas, dates, events and information that are expected to be known by a student working in that subject area would be considered to be ‘common knowledge’ and therefore would not expect to be referenced.

There are two inter-related parts of the referencing process:

i. The citation is essentially a marker you put in your text to show that you are referring to a source. For example, you may have given a direct quotation or summarised the ideas from the source. The marker you use links to the full reference in your reference list.

ii. The reference gives full details about the source you have cited in your text so that you can go from the source to the original from the details given. References are listed in an organized, structured and consistent way, at the end of your work, before any appendices. Footnotes and endnotes are not used in the Harvard (author-date) referencing style.

What if some of the details are missing?

You should be cautious about referencing material in your work where you cannot identify the author, date or source. The following are some of the problems you may encounter with the solution:.

No known date n.d. Langley (n.d.) advises...
Only approximate date known ca. [circa] Shahn, B. (ca. 1933-34)
Full year not known

189- for known decade

189? for probable decade

Peri, J. (186?) Le Musiche de Jacopo Peri. Milan: Ricordi.
No known author Anonymous or Anon. A nested cohort of 270 patients with a GCS score ≤ 14 from the 2010 CRASH-2 trial demonstrated a reduction in intracranial hematoma growth, focal cerebral ischemia, and mortality in patients given TXA, although none of the results were statistically significant (Anonymous, 2011).
No known place of publication s.l. [sine loco] Price, T. J. (2014) Environmental Management Systems: An easy to use guide to boosting your organization's environmental performance. 3rd edn. s.l.: CreateSpace.
No obvious publisher s.n. [sine nomine] Coccioli, L. (2004) Flectar: For trombone and live electronics. s.l.: s.n.
Information has been traced from other sources Use square brackets Mayer, J. [1995] Pawitri Naukari (A Sacred Service): Sacer misisterium. Birmingham: [Birmingham Conservatoire].

How do I maintain confidentiality?

For some forms of academic writing, it is not possible to provide the name of a cited source for reasons of confidentiality. This is especially the case in a health context.

This includes:

  • Not identifying individuals when writing about individual circumstances
  • Making it clear when you are using pseudonyms
  • Maintaining confidentiality in both your reference list and written work

In-text example:

Reference list example:

NHS Trust (2005) Disciplinary Policy. NHS Trust name withheld. 

School A (Name withheld) (2018) School A’s Sex Education Policy. Available at: (URL withheld) (Accessed 19 December 2018).


For documents available to the general public, for example patient information leaflets produced by a Trust:

In your appendices, these documents would then be labelled as Appendix 1, Appendix 2 and Appendix 3.


The following statement of confidentiality can be found in the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences' Policy on Confidentiality, Section 3.4: 

You must always ensure that when documents are used that relate to individual circumstances, there is no possibility that the individual(s) can be identified.

When you submit academic work for assessment, you sign to state that the work is your own, that confidentiality has been maintained and that any names used in the work are pseudonyms. It is good practice for you to state at the outset of your work that pseudonyms have been used.

The full BCU policy can be found here.

Confidentiality must be maintained within referencing as well as your written work.

If internal documents from Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities or Special Health Authorities are being cited, for example, policies, procedures or care plans, it is essential that the name is never divulged as these documents are not available to the general public.

The Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences' Policy on Confidentiality, Section 3.5 states:

If names of individuals or organisations used in assessments are not available to the general public, the work has ... breached confidentiality...Assessments that have breached confidentiality will achieve a mark of 1%


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

The reference list should include details of all the sources you have cited in your work.

Sometimes your tutors ask you to produce a bibliography as well as a reference list. The term bibliography normally refers to a list of items that you have used for background reading to inform your opinion but which are not cited directly in your text.

A reference list is always required when you cite other people's work within your own work.

The terms reference list and bibliography are sometimes used interchangeably. Make sure that you know what is required from you before you complete your work.

An annotated bibliography includes the full reference to sources with the addition of notes which summarise and evaluate each source. Depending on the assessment this may be an independent project or part of a larger research project.

Can I use reference management software?

The EndNote referencing software and EndNote Web both contain the BCU Harvard referencing style. The software also connects as a plug-in shown as a separate tab in Microsoft Word. EndNote Web is supported by IT Training.

Free open source reference management software is also available. The University’s databases will often export references to software such as Zotero, CiteULike and Mendeley which all contain Word plug-ins. If you wish to export and import citations between software packages, use the .ris format. JabRef is open source reference management software that uses BibTeX as its native file format and is therefore used to create references within LaTeX.


Want to understand more about referencing?

Here's our Harvard style guide


The structure of this information is adapted from Anglia Ruskin University's Guide to the Harvard System of Referencing

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