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Referencing styles - a Practical Guide

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Referencing styles: a Practical Guide

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.

What is referencing?

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:

  • In-text citation: citations appear in the text of your document to show where you've used information or words from source materials.
  • Reference list (or bibliography): appears at the end of the document and contains the full details of each source cited in the text so the reader can find them if they want to.

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.

Find out more:

Citing & Referencing [Google Slides]

Using source information in your writing

Using source information effectively isn't just about accurate citing and referencing (although that is a necessity!), it's also about selecting relevant evidence and integrating it into your argument. Find out more in our dedicated guide:

Organise your sources: reference management software

Keeping track of your sources can be difficult, especially if you're working on a big piece of work that relies on a lot of references. 

Reference management software is really useful to organise your sources: you can group and tag sources, keep notes, and store PDFs online for easy access. You can even automatically cite your references as you write up your work. 

Find out more:

Using the reference style guides

Firstly, you'll need to know which reference style is used in your department. This might be specified in your course materials, or you can check the list below.

  • Archaeology: Harvard
  • Biology: Harvard and Vancouver
  • Chemistry: Check departmental guidelines
  • Computer Science: IEEE
  • Economics and Related Studies: Harvard
  • Education: APA
  • Electronics: IEEE
  • English and Related Literature: Chicago and MLA
  • Environment: Harvard
  • Health Sciences: Harvard
  • History: Chicago
  • History of Art: Chicago
  • HYMS: Harvard and Vancouver
  • Language and Linguistic Science: APA
  • Law: OSCOLA
  • Management: Harvard
  • Mathematics: AMS/LMS, check departmental guidelines
  • Music: Chicago
  • Philosophy: Harvard and MLA
  • Physics: Check departmental guidelines
  • Politics: Harvard
  • Psychology: APA
  • Social Policy and Social Work: Harvard
  • Sociology: Harvard
  • Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media: MRHA and Harvard

Then use the relevant guide for your referencing style to help you cite and reference sources correctly. In each guide you'll find:

  • common questions about using the referencing style
  • examples of citations and references for different source types
  • other useful resources

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.