Harvard Referencing: Common Questions

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. It is also based on the publication, Cite Them Right (Pears and Shields, 2022). The structure originally followed Anglia Ruskin University's (2019) Guide to Harvard style of referencing. However, Anglia Ruskin University, whose advice is the basis for the style in Microsoft Word, is now phasing out its own guidance and referring its students to Cite Them Right.

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.

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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].

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How do I reference translated sources?

As with subsidiary creators, the reference should include details of the translator, annotator and editor, as appropriate. Include their full name in the format first name last name, for example:

Boal, A. (1995) The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal method of theatre and therapy. Translated by Adrian Jackson. London: Routledge.

Derrida, J. (2002) The animal that therefore I am (more to follow). Translated by David Wills. Critical Inquiry, 28(2), pp. 369-414.

Le Corbusier (2007) Journey to The East. 2nd edn. Edited, annotated and translated by Ivan Zaknic. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

For major works of historic significance, the date of the original work may be included along with the date of the translation:

Spinoza, B. (1677) The Ethics. Translated by R. H. M. Elwes, 1989. New York: Prometheus Books.

For works in another language that have been translated, reference these in the same manner as an English language work but provide a translation of the title immediately after the original title in square brackets:

Cicero (1972) De Natura Deorum [The Nature of the Gods]. Translated by Horace C. P. McGregor. London: Penguin.

Quantz, J. J. (1752) Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte Traversière du Spielen [On Playing the Flute]. 2nd edn. Translated by Edward R. Reilly, 2001. London: Faber and Faber.

If the source is in a non-Roman script, provide a translation in English and make it clear that the source you have used is not in English.

For a web page, for example, the required elements would appear as:

  • Authorship
  • (Year)
  • Title.
  • [in Chinese].
  • Available at: URL
  • [Accessed date].

For example:

The Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China (2008) White Paper on China's Drug Supervision. [in Chinese]. Available at: http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2008-07/18/content_1048848.htm [Accessed 21 August 2019].

For books, an example is:

Xu, Y. (2009) IPv6 In-depth Analysis. [in Chinese]. Tsinghua: Tsinghua University Press.

For articles, an example is:

Guoyu, T. and Dalong, Z. (2017) Interpretation of clinical practice guidelines and expert consensuses for the evaluation and management of diabetic kidney disease at home and abroad. [in Chinese]. Chinese Journal of Practical Internal Medicine, 37(3), pp. 211-216. https://doi.org/10.19538/j.nk2017030108.

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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.

Please see the full BCU policy.

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%

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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.

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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.

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Can I use ibid and op.cit in Harvard referencing?

There is no reason why you cannot use ibid and op.cit. in the Harvard system because the Harvard system has no manual so there is no authoritative source.

However, if you are using BCU Harvard style, then you are not required to use these terms in your work. Instead, each time you cite a source you enter a citation in the format required for the specific source you are using.

Anglia Ruskin University, whose advice is the basis for the style in Microsoft Word, is now phasing out its own guidance and referring its students to Cite Them Right. Cite Them Right is widely adopted in British universities as the definitive source of guidance and its 12th edition advises (Pears and Shields, 2022: 237):

“Ibid.: (From the Latin ibidem meaning ‘in the same place’.) A term used with citations that refer to an immediately preceding cited work. It is not used in the Harvard system, where works appear only once in the alphabetical list of references.”

“Op.cit.: (From the Latin opera citato meaning ‘in the work already cited’. A term used with citations that refer to a previously cited work. It is not used in the Harvard system, where works appear only once in the alphabetical list of references.”

This would therefore seem to be the current academic practice.

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Can I use an AI tool (like ChatGPT, Google Bard or Bing AI chat) to write parts of an assignment?

Your assignment is expected to be your own original work, not produced by someone else or an AI tool. If you decide to use a generative AI tool, you must reference this within your work.

For example, the citation should appear as (OpenAI, 2023) or OpenAI (2023) with the reference in the format: AI tool provider (Year) AI tool. The person marking your work will decide whether you have effectively demonstrated your own understanding of the subject, and whether your use of AI is reasonable in the context of the assignment, and this will be reflected in the mark.

There are three key limitations on the use of AI tools in your assignment:

  1. Tools like ChatGPT can hallucinate by making up facts and inventing sources that simply do not exist. Therefore, you must do your own research to independently verify/substantiate AI content.
  2. AI models can excessively focus on datasets, which can create evident bias towards a particular viewpoint, such as a one-sided political perspective. Again, it is your responsibility to engage critically with the source materials, to avoid this scenario in your completed assignment.
  3. To gain higher grades, tutors will want to see evidence of wider reading and, if your work over-relies on AI model content, this will not be possible. Consequently, as much as possible, you need to conduct your own independent research and cite/reference specific author(s)/organisation(s) etc.

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Can I use a paraphrasing tool like QuillBot?

You can use Grammarly’s free ‘writing suggestions’ to help you revise your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Alternatively, if you use a paraphrasing tool to reword a source, e.g. a journal article, you will need to cite both the text source and the tool, e.g. (Jones, 2020 paraphrased by QuillBot, 2023).

Please be advised that excessive use of paraphrasing tools presents your tutors with only limited evidence of your academic writing ability. For this reason, it is recommended that, should you choose to use paraphrasing tools such as QuillBot, this should be restricted to only a few sentences per assignment. Otherwise, you should be paraphrasing any source material into your own words by yourself. Students should not use AI writing assistants (such as QuillBot) to paraphrase content that was created by generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

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Can I use an AI tool to generate media outputs for an assignment?

This depends on the nature of the assignment. If the assignment requires you to create media outputs yourself, and marks are assigned to the outputs, you may not use AI tools to generate them. If media outputs are used to assist the illustration of a point within a written piece of work where no marks are allocated to the media output, you may use AI tools if you wish. However, you must reference the use of AI using the following formats:

In text: (AI tool provider, year). e.g. (OpenAI, 2023) or OpenAI (2023).

In your reference list:

  • AI tool provider
  • (Year)
  • AI tool.
  • Response to prompt made by your name, date, time.


OpenAI (2023) DALL-E. Response to prompt made by Isabel Gupta, 4 May 2023, 11.58am.

Please see the generative AI referencing guidelines for further information.

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How do I reference Microsoft stock images from PowerPoint or Word?

PowerPoint stock images are free to Microsoft Office subscribers such as BCU as long as the images are used within a Microsoft 365 app or a SharePoint site.

Students therefore do not need to reference the image if it used within Microsoft PowerPoint or Word which are probably the most likely applications.

The university does not have a license for the Microsoft 365 images for general use, so you can’t take the pictures outside of Microsoft 365 or SharePoint and use it in a different context. This is the difference between content you get from Microsoft 365 or SharePoint and content from stock sites (see the Microsoft page).

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How do I make MS Word References Tab work with BCU Harvard Style?

I'm James Dean, a librarian supporting students in computing engineering and the built environment. This is a guide to making the references tab in Microsoft Word create references in the BCU Harvard style. You can't edit the Harvard referencing style in Word, so you just have to work with what there is.

This guide will try and do these four things.

I have a document here into which I want to insert some sources. The document in this case is the template for the knowledge-based article used in one of the first year computing modules. I shall include the most common sources for CEBE students. First of all, we get to the references tab and we're gonna select Harvard as the style.

You can include a placeholder as a marker in the text. You may wish to come back later. In this particular case, we're gonna insert a citation and add a new source.

The first piece of evidence we're gonna use is a document from a website. So you, you select the type of source that you are using. So the first one is this document from the IOT Security Foundation was published in 2018 as a copyright statement down here, which says when it was written . We're gonna choose the corporate author in this case we have an organisation, so this is the IOT Security Foundation.

And I'm going to insert the title. Just make sure that all the words in the title are capitalised. Include the year of the publication and then the date of accessed. And I'm gonna go back and copy the URL and also include that information in the source details. Once I've done that, you can see that the citation has been edited included in our document.[contextual menu,Edit Source]

If I wanted to change that again, you could edit the source. The second piece of evidence I'm taking is from a website, from the RFID journal. [Ribbon, References, Insert Citation, Add Source] I'm gonna add a new source in that location, [Create source window] so I'm sticking with a document from a website. [Web browser window]This particular one has an author, which isn't an organisation. It's written by Kevin Ashton in 2009.

So I'm gonna copy the title of this article. I'm going back to my source and I'm going to put in the, the author's surname. In the, in that particular style: surname , comma, space, initial full stop. That's the style that we are looking for. I've added the title of the webpage. I've added the date that it was published.

I'm also adding, the day and the month that it was published. And I'm also adding the date that I accessed this particular document. And then I'm gonna go back and just copy the url.[website window] And pop that into the document. [create source]So I've included that information. [Tick Show all bibliography option] I can show all the bibliographic, all the bibliography fields cause I may want to add some extra information. [Create Source window]

I might want to add the name of the website here. Pressing. Okay. So I'm gonna repeat this for all of the sources that I include.

So in this particular case, the third piece of evidence is the journal article. [Ribbon, References, Insert Citation, Add source] I insert the citation. [Create source window] The type of source is journal article. The journal article we're looking for is from Science Direct. [website window] Science Direct has this option as do many other database that gives you a few clues as to citation. [Clicks on the Cite link]

You can export the citation to a text. It'll open up in notepad. [Notepad window] So, first of all, I'll just copy the title. So for all of the, sources, you have to manually enter the information. [Create source window]

That's the title. And I'll go back to the journal name. [Notepad window]

I'll just copy the authors. These are the authors. [Notepad window] Often the journal has many authors but we need to put them in the same,

but we need to put them in a particular style. I'll come back to that after I've just done the other bibliographic details. [Create Source window] This is the journal name, future Generation Computer Systems years 2013. Volume and issue and the page numbers.[Notepad window]

I forgot the page numbers. Let's just copy that. And we'll just paste that back into this source. [Source window] So I've got all the information that I actually need. We don't need any punctuations. I'll just take that comma out of there, and also the journal name.[Tick Show all bibliographic fields option] We can include some more bibliographic details here.

I wanted to include the DOI in this. I could do so [Notepad window]

as we we're here. I'll just try and copy that. [Create source window]

Put that back into the doi. Okay. And then with the authors , because we have multiple authors, they need to be separated by a semicolon. So I'm taking out their first names and I'm putting it in the style of. surname, comma, space, initial, full stop, semicolon. Hope you can see that on the screen.

So it's Surname . Comma space, and then the initial of the first name. Add a full stop, and they all separated by a semicolon. So that's the format that authors need to be in. So that the information that appears correct in the reference list. So once I'm happy with that, I've got all the other details, we'll press OK.

And you can see the information is entered with the first name, first author, and then et al. [Word document window] [Click insert citation, add new source, Create Source window] So that's the correct citation style. I'll just do another article whilst I'm here. [Website window] This one is also from the science Direct. So the same process. We use site we can export the citation to text. [Notepad window]

You'll notice there are other options to export it to other reference management software. [Create Source window] And then as before, I'm just gonna copy all the information into the source. So with the title, I need to make sure that I've got, that I've capitalised the words in the first part of the title and then so with the journal title. The journal name needs to be, in capitals, so I'll just get the right one.

So the name of the journal they need to be in capitals, but with the article title we don't need to capitalise, we only need to capitalise internet and things in this particular case, I don't need to. Capital B. The system isn't gonna check It, is reliant upon you making sure the capitalisation is correct.

So I've got the same details. I've got the volume and issue. I've got the year, I've got the journal title and I've got the title of the article and the authors. Okay.

And because I've got two notepads open, I've probably got myself slightly confused, but never mind. [Create Source Window] You get the idea, I'll just adjust these author surnames. We'll keep that as De Pellegrini as, and so it's the surname, comma, space, and then the initial, and they're all separated by a semi colon.

Lovely. If you click on the edit button, [Edit Name window] you can see that's the way that they've been added. That's the format that's required. [Word document window] So in the text, I've got this citation in the text. Now I want, if I wanted to edit that a little bit it's, there is a, a dropdown where I can convert the citation to a static text and then I can remove the brackets which have crept in there.

And I can separate these two with a semicolon. Just, and I just probably need to make sure where I've got two citations supporting my argument that they're in alphabetical order, which they are.

The last two I'm gonna show you one is the one is for a book. [Click Insert Citation, Create Source. Create Source window selected] This is adding a new source. [Click Type of Source dropdown] So I choose book as the source. [Website window] The book details I'm taking from the library catalog. This is the item that I'm referring to. So I've got the information. I've written about from this particular book here, [Item details section] so I can then copy the title securing the Internet of Things, [Create Source window]

and I can pop that in the title. So with the book title, just make sure that the you, you'd want to make sure that the all the words capitalised. I'm not sure I've done that here. I'll have to type it in for some reason it has stopped playing ball. Security and the internet of things. Really? I should make that.

Capital I and capital T. Never mind. That's what we should do. I can always change it later on by converting things to a static text. I've got the year I've got the. Place that was published. It was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts with the American States are usually given a a two letter abbreviation in capitals.

Publisher is Syngress. [Website window] The authors were more than that, and I've just gotta connect to the full text of it. I connected the full text. I should refresh that page. [Click Cite Book link in eBook Central] This is the item. I've got the authors up and up there, but there is also an option to cite the book. [Citation modal window, dropdown menu Format] If I chose the Harvard option here, I could just copy the three author names from there, close that go back to the source.

So my authors aren't there. As before, I've gotta make sure that the names are separated with a semicolon.

It's fine. Remove that ampersand you've got options to add the edition if you wanted to or if, or if if it wasn't the first edition, you could put the additional statement in there, but you can see the information in there. The last source is where I've taken this quote from. With a quote you need to include the page numbers. [Click insert citation, Add New Source, Create Source window selected]

So in this particular case, we'll insert a citation to add a new source. [Type of source dropdown menu] So this is a book section, a chapter from a book. The book itself is, [Library search results window] this is the book that I've taken the information from. It's been, it's edited by those three people on the screen. I'll just connect to it.

I scroll down to the chapter. So the quote is from chapter two, which is on the principle of accountability challenges for smart homes and cybersecurity. That's the title of the, of the chapter. It's written by other people, by Urquhart and Chen. [Create Source window] So if I go back here, book section is the type of source. This is title of the chapter. It's in a book which is edited by these three here. [Library search results window] So I've got the just copy the book title, Privacy by Design of the Internet of Things. [Create Source window] I put that in there. [Library search results window] The authors of the chapter are, Urquhart and Chen. I'll just copy that their details from there. [Create Source window]

Just have to amend this a little bit again so that it's in the surname, comma, space, first name, full stop. The initial, the first name, and then the full stop separated by a semicolon. [Edit button, Edit name window] I could just check the edit just to see if I've got that right. Lovely. [Create Source window] It was published in a particular year, which I forget. [Library search results window]

I'm getting the information also from the, from a number of sources. This was 2021. That's the publisher, I E T, Institution of Engineering and Technology. [Create Source window] Just pop it in the publisher published in Stevenage. I've got the year. And then I also need the page numbers for this particular chapter. [Library search results window]

I also need the editors, those three people there who edited this particular book. So I'm just going to, I could copy them or I could just type them into the details so you could type in one name here. [Create Source window] That's lovely. Surname comma, space, initial, full stop. Then I can press edit. I can then add the name here and it'll actually do it for me.

So I can just put the last name and the first name there with a dot. So that's how you could also add surnames of books or journal articles.

Okay, lovely. [Library search results window] If I get that wrong, I could always go back to the, oh, it's Richard is his first name. So I can just go back there and I can edit that source [Create Source window, Author, Edit, Edit Name window]

there we are and I can change that to an E.

Not necessarily there. There's no option to edit it there. [Create Source window] I can just edit it there in that particular box there. Okay. .[Tick Show all bibliographic fields option] So I've now I can obviously show all the bibliography fields if there was any other details that I needed to add. [Word document window]

You can see it's, added Urquhart and Chen 2021. Now actually I just want to add edit that citation a little bit. I can click on that [Contextual menu] and edit the citation. So I can add the page number is 34, so I can add a page number. [Word document window] But it puts it in that style and there's nothing I could do about. That's how word handles it.

So if I edit this,[Contextual menu] if I convert the citation to text, I can then just check, remove the ampersand, and then I can put the colon after the year and then leave it with a page number. So that's the style we are looking for.

So once we've added the sources you can then go back at the end. This is the last time of the process. You could insert a bibliography using these references. [Click Bibliography, References] So we insert the bibliography in this reference style. [Word document window]

It will put the information in. First of all, we're just going to change that so it's left justified. [Contextual menu] I can convert the bibliography to a static text and then I can if I can work the, that, I can highlight that [Ribbon, Home tab]]and I could left justify that. So you are going to use the CEBE short guide as a quick check as to what the actual requirements are for these sources.

But there are a number of things you've gotta do. One is that for all the sources, you need to include brackets around the year and remove the full stop after the right bracket. As you've just seen me, do you delete the word online in documents from webpages. I'm then just, I'm just including a tab so that it indents, the second and or further lines for each of the articles.

So what I'm doing here, I'm just at making sure that the year is in brackets and I'm removing the full stop. I'm indenting making sure that the first line with the creators, the authors stands out. So I'm indenting the second line and any other subsequent lines, and I'm removing the word online in documents from webpages.

Remove the page the carriage returns that have been put in. And then in the authors, I'm also removing the ampersand and that plus the ampersand symbol, which is above the seven on the keyboard and replacing it with the word and. And then if I do all that I should we should then be in the right format.

So, Word is not the reference management software of choice for researchers. Researchers will use software which include plugins for both for word processing, software for both PC and Mac. EndNote is the software supported by IT. Mendeley and Zotero are other options that you can use. JabRef is the one that is used with latex documents.

So, as you can see, I'm, I'm replacing all of those. I'm just changing the year. And so, and we should then be in business. So support is available from the Center for Academic Success. You can also ask the libraries 24/7 chat service if you have any queries. So once I've done this last one, we should be in line and we should then, there we are, so that's your list of references.

So I've got the sources and the list of references. Just make sure that you save your work. Thanks very much indeed for listening, and good luck with your referencing.