The Harvard style is a generic term for any referencing system that uses author-date references in the text of the document, either within or at the end of a sentence. In Harvard style, the full reference details are listed alphabetically at the end of the document.
There is no definitive style guide for the Harvard style. The key to using the system is consistency throughout your document. A number of universities and organisations base their Harvard style on the Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS) guide.
Please note that the AGPS guide has recently been updated. These pages will be updated in the near future with guidance following the new edition for AGPS.
Harvard style guides
- La Trobe University Referencing Tool
- Monash University guide to Harvard referencing
- University of Sydney complete Harvard guide (pdf 241KB)
Referencing in Harvard
Let's go through the steps of how to use a style guide to reference in Harvard, using the Monash University guide to Harvard referencing
The reference list entry
Start by doing the reference list entry. If you get this right early on, it will save you a lot of time.
1. Identify what the source is, where it's from, and who it's by.
Is it a book? A journal article? An interview? Did you access it online? How many authors does it have? The source's characteristics influence how to reference it.
Say you need to reference a journal article that you found online, such as the one below. The screenshot shows the information that is at the top of the article's first page. This tells you that it is an article from the journal Accounting Horizons and that it has two authors (Inder K. Khurana is first author and Paul N. Michas is second author).
2. Find a matching example in your style guide.
The aim is to find the closest example possible in your chosen Harvard style guide. For the following example, we’re using the Monash Harvard style guide.
In the Monash style guide, under the section ‘Journals/Periodicals: Electronic’, you can find examples for an online journal article that is written by two authors.
Harkness, S & Evans, M 2011, 'The employment effects of recession on couples in the UK: women's and household employment prospects and partner's job loss', Journal of Social Policy, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 675-693.
3. Write out the reference following the style guide examples.
Your aim at this point is to make the information you have match the order and formatting of the example in the style guide. This includes details such as punctuation. If you’re ever unsure, remember that your markers care most of all about consistency and having enough information to be able to locate the source themselves. Check over your references to make sure they’re following the same principles and formatting.
First, you need to identify both authors’ surnames (also known as their last name, or family name). In this case they are Khurana and Michas. Then, you need to work out the authors’ initials for their first names, and write the initials after each author’s surname:
Khurana, IK & Michas, PN
Article and journal title
Then comes the year of publication, the article title and the journal name (in italics).
Khurana, IK & Michas, PN 2011, ‘Mandatory IFRS adoption and the U.S. home bias’, Accounting Horizons
After that, you need the volume number and, if available, the issue number. You will also need the page range. Sometimes you may need to look elsewhere in the article or on the journal’s website to find out these details.
Finally, if you found the article online, you have a couple of options. Look to see if the article has a DOI—a Digital Object Identifier. This is like a stable URL. If so, then you should put the DOI after the page range. The Monash guide has examples to show this.
If there is no DOI, follow the Monash guide’s example given earlier, which provides the date viewed and the URL.
A finished reference
Following the above steps, this is what your reference list entry will look like:
Khurana, IK & Michas, PN 2011, ‘Mandatory IFRS adoption and the U.S. home bias’, Accounting Horizons, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 729-753, doi: 10.2308/acch-50075
When you use Harvard, you need to use parenthetical citations in the body of your work to show where the information comes from. Include page numbers in your citations whenever you use quotes, specific data or a close paraphrase. These might look like:
Khurana and Michas argue that ‘a common set of global accounting standards matters for portfolio holdings of U.S. investors’ (2011, p. 750).
Khurana and Michas (2011, p. 729) report ….
According to one study, 22 countries enforced IFRS standards before 2003 (Khurana & Michas 2011, p. 730).
If you are summarising the main idea of the whole article, you don’t need a page number. A summary could look like:
Khurana and Michas (2011) analyse the US home bias and its connection to mandatory IFRS adoption.
Check your guide
Always remember to have your chosen style guide open while you are referencing, even if you use referencing software. It’s useful to look out for inconsistencies and to make sure that you have all the right information in the correct order and format. Check out the Harvard style guides listed above.