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On referencing

Read on to find out about how to use, and apply references appropriately in your essays.

Referencing includes:

  1. Citations (quotes) in the body of your essay
  2. References at the end of your essay giving full bibliographic information

You must reference any source you use to support an argument, make a claim or provide evidence, in order to:

  • Acknowledge other peoples’ ideas
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Show evidence of your reading
  • Help readers evaluate your interpretation of existing ideas
  • Help readers discover more about your topic

Within the text of your essay:

  • Use direct quotes sparingly
  • Paraphrase an author’s ideas by putting them into your own words and referencing appropriately

If you are using a direct quotation or are referring to an author’s specific idea or assertion, you need to reference (Author’s surname, Year, Page).

If you are referring to a work in its entirety or to a more general argument you only need to reference (Author’s surname, Year).

If you have named the author in the flow of your text, you only need to reference (Year, Page).

Slight variations exist with regard to different source types; texts with more than one author; secondary references etc. Full details about Harvard referencing can be found on the college website.

Your bibliography:

Include the following information for every book/article cited, in this order, at the end of your essay. You can find this information on the book cover and first printed page.

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Title of chapter/article
  • Title of book
  • Place of publication
  • Publisher
  • Edition or volume details
  • Page span
  • Online articles: URL and date accessed


Take a book and note down an example of each of the following according to the Harvard referencing rules.

  1. A direct quote
  2. An indirect quote (general argument)
  3. A bibliographic reference

On effective quoting:

There are three main types of quote…

  1. Inline quote – a short quote within a sentence of text
  2. Block quote – a longer quote set apart from the text: indented and on a new line
  3. Paraphrase – an author or interviewee’s idea redrafted into your own words for the sake of brevity

When chooing whether or not to quote directly, either inline or as a block quote, ask yourself…

  • Does this quote enhance or explain the points I wish to get across in my essay?
  • Is the point I’m quoting clearly and concisely explained?
  • Is the quote powerfully or beautifully written?
  • What is the minimum number of words I need to quote in order to get this point across?

A good quote is…

  • Short: no longer than a paragraph
  • Pithy: can act as a summary of the points being discussed
  • Provocative or persuasive: should underline an opinion you agree with about a topic or inspire argument

General ideas or concepts are best articulated in your own words (paraphrased), so that they can be integrated more easily into your own writing flow. Another author’s concepts cited in this way must still be referenced.


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