Reference systems

A reference system or style consists of recommendations on how to cite sources in a standardized way. E.g. Harvard, APA and Oxford are such systems. Different academic disciplines use different reference systems. Within social sciences and business and economics the Harvard reference system is commonly used. In legal studies the Oxford system is used.

A reference system consists of two elements:

  • in-text citing
  • reference list

There are two main categories of reference systems:

  • name/date systems (e.g. Harvard)
  • numeric systems (e.g. Oxford)

Hanken’s reference guide is a version of the Harvard system. Harvard is not a uniform standard, there are variations of it. The variations lie in different ways of using punctuation marks, how page numbers are indicated or in the use of capital letters.

Regardless of which reference system or of which version of Harvard you use it’s important your citations are consistent. The citations should be correct, have a uniform presentation and contain sufficient information for the reader to be able to access the source.

According to the Harvard reference style the author’s surname and the publication year of the publication is seen in the in-text reference. When you cite a specific content or a detail in a publication, you should also add the page number to your in-text citation*. If your citation concerns something that the whole article or book claim there is no need to add the page number.

The in-text citation guides the reader towards the reference list, where more information on the source can be found, therefore the main entry in the in-text citation should be the first word in the reference list, so that the reader can find and identify the source.

* As a main rule, page numbers should be included in the in-text citation. However, contact your teacher, as practice might differ depending on what type of paper you are writing.