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What Does It Mean to Cite Sources and Compile a Works Cited?

Documentation and referencing are the same thing. Both refer to giving credit to the original thinkers and writers of ideas by providing references to their work within your own document. For example, you must give credit to an author when you quote them or paraphrase words they have said. By citing a quote, for example, immediately after you have used it, you will provide the author’s name and a date of publication, which will give the reader clear knowledge of who had these ideas and when, and also, give them enough information to flip to the works cited, where they can find out all the information they need should they want to find the book or article on their own and read it. For example,

As John Adams (2016) notes in his book Why Grammar Matters, Even in the 21st Century, “although the semi-colon is largely going out of use now, it is still important to tell students how to interpret the semi-colon so they can fully understand older texts and the tone of the author when using these more archaic forms of punctuation.”

Citing sources also helps you to avoid committing an act of plagiarism, which would get you in a lot of trouble at school or in the workplace.

What is the Harvard Style of Referencing?

Harvard style originated at Harvard University, but has been much adapted by individual institutions, especially in the United States. There are many kinds of documentation styles. Some of the most popular ones at academic institutions throughout the United States are APA, MLA, and the Harvard Style. Each one of these documentation styles is unique in the way it treats titles, dates, names of authors, pages of publications, volume numbers and issue numbers. In terms of style and its privileging the author and date over other textual information, the Harvard Style shares the most in common with APA style. For example, like APA style, for in-text citation, Harvard requires that you mention both the name of the author, followed by the date in a parenthetical citation at the end of a quote or paraphrase, or, directly after you mention the author’s name to put the year of publication of the source materials where the quote is found in parenthesis. For example, Jones (2004) adds that “quote.” For works that also have a page number (quotes that are found in numbered, paginated journals or online journals with pages, as opposed to online articles that are not paginated), Harvard requires you to put at the end of the sentence (p. #), with the given page number of that specific quote at the end of the sentence. For the source in the works cited, however, the full page range of all the pages the article covers in the journal will be given.

What Makes the Harvard Works Cited Unique?

The Harvard System combines elements of the MLA style and the APA style that are completely unique. Harvard and APA style, although they handle in-text citations similarly, cite works in cited/reference list items in a unique matter, distinct from one another. For example, in Harvard style, all the words in article titles are capitalized in title case, where in APA style, only the first word is capitalized.

For the Harvard system, the basic format for citing books is the following:

Author's last name, author's first initial. (Year of publication). Title. Edition. (Applicable only if it is not the first edition) City of publication: Publisher.


Hemingway, E. (1921). In our time. New York: Scribner’s.

For citing journal articles, the basic format is:

Last name, First initial. (Year published). Article title. Journal, Volume (Issue), Page(s).


Jones, R. (2002). In Our Time: Understanding Hemingway’s Masterpiece. American Literature, 32(14), pp. 269-290.

Understanding the unique rules of the referencing style you are supposed to apply is a crucial element of academic writing. Follow our simple guide to make sure you don't overlook anything important.