Particular referencing styles are preferred by particular academic disciplines because they work better with the king of texts that are most commonly used in that discipline.

The school of law prefers OSCOLA because it has rules for citing legal text.

Theatre and Television both prefer the MHRA. (MHRA- Modern Humanities Research Association)

Referencing, also known as a citation, is defined as the method of acknowledging and recognizing someone for their work, which you used in your research to support your idea.

A reference normally includes the name of the author/s, date of publication, name, and location of the publishing company, title of the journal or book, title of the research or chapter’s name, and Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

In your academic writing, referencing takes place in two ways, in-text citation and end-text citation. The in-text citation is a brief reference in the body of the text and end-text citations are the full references that are found at the end of the document, in the form of a list.

styles of referencing

There are four widely-used referencing styles or conventions. They are called the MLA (Modern Languages Association) system, the APA (American Psychological Association) system, the Harvard system, and the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) system.

Referencing styles are a set of rules that tell you how you should acknowledge the intellectual works of people that you use in your research. Referencing is an important part of successful academic writing. It helps you avoid plagiarism while doing your assignments. Referencing contains two crucial elements:
• An in-text citation
• An entry in the reference list at the end of your assignment
The citation will contain enough details for the reader to identify the source listed in the reference list. In most cases, this is the name of the author and the year in which the source of your data was published. The reference list is usually alphabetized by author names. Other details in the reference list are the name of the author, year of publication, and the title of your source.

APA (American Psychological Association)

APA is one of the most common citation styles in academic work. Developed by the American Psychological Association, it is one of the citation styles that use the author-date system.

APA referencing is a variant of the Harvard Referencing Style. It is known as an “author-date” style. Only use the surname of the author/s and the year of publication. 

If you are quoting or paraphrasing, then include the page, chapter, or section numbers.

As far as referencing websites, do not include the date accessed.

This style requires a reference list instead of a bibliography.

Examples of books, journal articles, internet documents:

In-Text: (Cervone & Pervin, 2017, pp. 13-16)

End-Text: Cervone, D., & Pervin, L.A. (2017). Personality: Theory and research (13th ed.). Wiley

Example for website:

In-text: The National Autistic Society (2014)

End-Text: The National Autistic Society (2014). Recognizing autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved from…

MLA (Modern Language Association)

The MLA system is a parenthetical system: i.e. bracketed references in the body of your essay are linked to full-length citations in the bibliography at the end of your essay. The bracket in the body of the essay contains only the author’s surname and the page number or numbers you are referring to. For example, there are a number of different referencing styles or conventions but there are four that are used most widely. (Kennedy, 17).

MLA referencing styles were developed by the Modern Language Association. For in-text citations use the first part from the Works Cited entry, which is generally the author’s surname and page number/s in parenthesis. 

This style requires a list called the “Works Cited” instead of a bibliography.

​For the Works Cited section, arrange the references in alphabetical order by the first element, usually the author’s surname. The alphabetical arrangement is letter-by-letter, i.e. Mac comes before Mc. Ignore any diacritical marks (e.g. é is treated the same as e) or special characters (e.g. for @smith use smith).

Examples of books, journal articles, internet documents:

In-Text: (Smith 173)   Or

If the author’s name appears in the body of your essay itself, use just the relevant page number/s in the parenthesis, eg. Smith claims that….applies. (173).

End-Text: Author. Title of source. Title of Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Harvard Referencing Style

Another common referencing style is Harvard style. Like other referencing styles, it contains two essential elements: the in-text citation and the reference list. Harvard is one of the citation styles that uses the author-date system. Therefore, the citation contains the name of the author and when the date of publication.

In this style, there is no punctuation between the author’s surname and the publication year. If you quote directly, you must include the page name of the passage or quote in the in-text citation.

It has been asserted that “the aim of management is to utilize and allocate the resources of an organization in a manner that helps the organization reach its goals” (John et. al. 1998, p. 176)

If you wish to quote data cited by someone else, you have to refer to the source of your information and not the original source.

Harvard referencing style is an “author-date” style.  Only use the surname of the author/s and year of publication. In-text citations are in brackets in the body of the text or in footnotes.

If you need to refer to a certain page, include the page number.

End-Text citations go in the bibliography or reference list.


Harvard is a ‘style’ rather than a system or set of rules, the preferred punctuation and formatting of the text may differ. Check for any examples in your course handbook, and if they are not available, be consistent.

Example for books, journal articles, internet documents:

In-Text: (Shriver and Atkins, 1999)

End-Text: Shriver, D.F. and Atkins, P.W. (1999). Inorganic chemistry. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Example for website:

In-Text: (National Autistic Society, 2014)

End-Text: National Autistic Society (2014) Recognising autism spectrum disorder, online at…, accessed 23/07/14.

Chicago/Turabian Referencing Style

This is one of the most common referencing styles in the field of history since it uses endnotes in addition to bibliography to emphasize the data sources, which is important in historiography. At its most basic, there is a number assigned to a fact in the text and a footnote with the corresponding number at the bottom of the page, which lists the source of text.

Chicago referencing style is an “author-date” style. Only use the surname of the author/s and the year of publication. 

If you are quoting or paraphrasing, then include the page, chapter, or section numbers.

Examples for books, journal articles, internet documents:

In-Text: (Tuten and Solomon 2018, 62-63)

End-Text: Tuten, Tracy L., and Michael R. Solomon. 2018. Social Media Marketing. 3rd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Oxford Referencing Style

Oxford referencing requires for the in-text citations to be in footnotes. Full details should be included in the footnotes for the first mention of a text. Thereafter, a shortened version should be used.

Example for books:


The first mention in the footnotes: Jonathan Bell, The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (New York, 2004) p.3.

The following mentions in the footnotes: Bell, The Liberal State on Trial, p. 36.

End-Text: Jonathan Bell, The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (New York, 2004).

Vancouver (Numeric) Referencing Style

Vancouver referencing style is numeric, where each source is given a number which matches the order in which it appears in the text. If the same source is referred to again in the body of the text, the same number is used.

This style makes use of a reference list which contains a single numbered list with full details.

You may also include a separate bibliography, which is alphabetically ordered by author, which lists sources that you have used as part of your research for your assignment but have not cited in the text.

Example for a journal article:

In-Text: It has been noted that performance does not always match expectations. (5)

End-Text: 5. Chhibber PK, Majumdar SK. Foreign ownership and profitability: Property rights, control, and the performance of firms in Indian industry. Journal of Law & Economics 1999;42(1): 209-238.

For more in-depth information on these reference styles, consult your textbooks.

List of Reference Types

Articles, Books, Conferences, Reports, grey literature Figures (Graphs and Images), Tables, Theses Audio, Works, media, Films TV and video, visual works, Computer Software, games, and apps; data sets; Lecture notes and Internet resources; personal communication; PowerPoint Slides; Social media, websites, and webpages, Footnotes, specific Health examples.

Format of a Reference list

Elements of a Reference

  • Elements of a Reference
  • APA referencing style: Books (Who…..Another Address) (Books and e-books with DOI)
  • Chapter in an edited book.
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedia

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Geographic Book

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: