Referencing is a key aspect of academic writing. This practical guide contains advice and examples to help you use your department's referencing style correctly.
A key aspect of academic writing is using referencing to clearly identify information and ideas in your writing that come from source materials. It's essential to acknowledge other people's ideas in this way so that you can avoid plagiarism.
Various referencing styles are used in different academic disciplines, but all referencing styles have two key components:
Citations appear in the text of your document to show where you've used information or words from source materials.
Referencing styles show citations using one of these methods:
The reference list (or bibliography) at the end of the document contains the full details of each source cited in the text so the reader can find them if they wish.
It's very important that you format your citations and reference list correctly. See the relevant style guide for more detail and examples of citations and references.
Citing source materials within your assignment is useful and beneficial to support your argument. However, be selective. Don't just use as many references as you can to try to impress the marker that you’ve read a massive amount. Your references should be relevant and are an integral part of your argument; that is you discuss or critique them in your writing.
For example, cite your source if you:
For more on using source information in your writing, see these Skills Guides pages:
There are a number of different referencing styles, but each department usually only uses one - check below which referencing style you need.
Use the relevant style guide to help you cite and reference sources correctly. In each guide you'll find:
You can also find these links at the top of the page. We recommend you bookmark your guide in your browser so you can easily access it whenever you need it.
Managing what you find can be difficult, especially if you're working on a big piece of work that relies on a lot of references. Reference management applications let you keep track of what you've found: you can group and organise your references, keep notes, and store pdfs online for easy access. You can even automatically cite your references as you write up your work.
Our practical guide to reference management covers the key concepts for each stage of the process and how to use features in EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, and Paperpile to effectively collect, organise, cite, and share your references.
You can refer to the guide with specific questions, or work through the whole guide with suggested exercises. It also contains the slides from our reference management training session.