Harvard Style Citation, Formatting And Referencing: A Complete Comprehensive Guide For Beginners

Harvard Style Citation Featured Image

Have you ever been asked to cite your academic paper by your professor? Citing or adding references plays an essential role in academic writing. With proper citations or references, your document might avoid plagiarism issues. This is because academic writing involves references to previous studies, surveys, or reports which, when included without citations, is akin to plagiarism. Thus, correct citations help you provide credit where it is due.

One can find various ways to cite sources, and in this article, we discuss the Harvard citation style.

What Is Harvard Citation Style?

Harvard citation style is basically a format for writing academic papers similar to styles like APA or MLA. The style includes general formatting guidelines such as margin size, font size and style, and other rules. Apart from that, it will have guidelines for citations too.

The Harvard citation style is usually preferred in philosophy, humanities, and behavioral sciences classes or papers. However, this style is not restricted to these subjects alone. Instead, other fields of study may also request this type of style.

Harvard Paper Formatting Guidelines

There are specific rules that are to be followed while formatting a paper in Harvard style. While the entire guidelines are massive, here are some general guidelines that one can follow easily:

General formatting rules

  • Font type: Times New Roman and Arial
  • Font size: 12 pt.
  • Margin: 1-inch margin from every side
  • Spacing: Give double-spacing between the lines
  • Alignment: Maintain left align text
  • Indentation: The first sentence of every para must be indented by 0.5″

Headers, titles, and page numbers

  • The title must be center aligned. In addition to this, capitalize the first letter of the words used in the title.

Example: Do My Essay Assignment

  • If there are any short conjunctions, articles, and prepositions in the title, do not capitalize them. Additionally, the title must not be italicized, indented, bold, or underscored.
  • Write the page number at the top-right corner of the header of the page.
  • Include your last name in the header before the page number.

Title page format

The cover page or title page is the first page of the paper and consists of basic information, such as the title of your article/paper, your name, and other information.

  • The paper’s title must be captilized, centeres and placed 1/3rd down the page. 
  • The name should aligned center and placed about halfway down the page.
  • Next, the formatted name must be placed with the course number two-thirds down the page. After that, place your professor’s name on the following line. Again, put your university’s name on the following line. Finally, write the date on the following line.


  • Level 1: The headings in this level are similar to title of the paper. They are captilized and centered without any other formattings. You may start with your text on a new line below the heading with 0.5′′ indentation.
  • Level 2: The headings are capitalized and aligned to left in this level as well. However, the heading is italicized. You may start with your subsection on a new line below the subheading. 
  • Level 3: The headings in this level are the same as level 2 headings. However, they are flushed to the left margin.
  • Level 4: The headings of this level are used to start a new paragraph’s sentence and apart from the first word of the header, no other word must be capitilized. You must end the header of this level with a period and underline. 

How To Format Harvard In-Text Citations?

The Harvard in-text citation are represented using brackets or parentheses that are placed next to any of the paraphrased sentence or quote. Using in-text citation is best when referencing information from other sources to avoid plagiarism issues.

The citation format comprises the following information related to the referenced work:

  • Author’s last name 
  • Page range or number
  • Publication year 


The novel begins with the dark picture of the passengers’ faces on a bus, which are portrayed as ‘pale yellow, the color of the fog’ (Dostoyevsky, 2004, p. 5).

Here, ‘p’ signifies just one page, but if you want to refer to multiple pages, use ‘pp.’ Example: ‘pp. 2-5’).

Note: You can also add the citation at the conclusion of a relevant sentence too. Also, quotes must be used if you are including the exact words from the source (as shown in the above example). Furthermore, you may exclude the writer’s name in the citation if it is already indicated in the sentence, as given in the example below.


Woolf introduces the essay’s topic as ‘women and fiction’ (2000, p. 5), discussing the phrase’s various connotations.

Multiple source citations

Enumerate the reference sources in a similar order as they are used in the reference list if you wish to quote multiple sources in one parenthetical citation. However, separate each of the sources with a semicolon.


(David 2014; John 2013)

Citation for more than one author

If your referral source has more than one author, you must quote them in your citation, but if the number of writers exceeds three, you may cite only the first author and append it with ‘et al.’ In other words, one can cite up to three authors, to be precise. You can refer to the examples below to get a clear picture.

Example for, one author

(David, 2019)

Example for two authors

(David and John, 2019)

Example for three authors

(David, John, and McLahlan, 2019)

Citation for multiple sources that have the same author and date

One way to distinguish multiple sources by the same author is by adding alphabets right after the year.

Example: The results of the first study (Woodhouse, 2018a) were inconclusive, but a follow-up study (Woodhouse, 2018b) achieved a more precise outcome.

Here the letters’ a’ and ‘b’ distinguish between the two citations.

How to Format Harvard Referencing List?

A reference list or, in short, a bibliography that comprises all the sources and is placed at the end of the text in alphabetical order (according to the author’s last name). This list is a reference point that you can look up whenever required. It would be best if you remembered a few things when formatting a Harvard referencing list.

  • Alphabetical order: The list must be organized alphabetically as per the first letter of the first word of every reference (the surname of the first author). However, ignore if the reference starts with words, such as ‘a,’ ‘the,’ or ‘an,’ and check the first letter of the next term.

Example: Consider the reference entry titled “The importance of regular exercise,” you can see that the name starts with “the,” so you must alphabetize it as per the word “importance.”

  • Reference entry placement: Each reference entry must start on a new line without indentation but aligned to the left.
  • Capitalization: When referencing or citing scientific newspapers or journals, you must capitalize all main words in the title, excluding articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and others. However, when referencing the book titles, chapters, and web articles, you must capitalize only the first letter of the title.
  • Space: Use double-spacing in the reference list.


Although APA, MLA, and Chicago formatting styles are most commonly used for formatting purposes, you can find papers using the Harvard style. This article gives a brief overview of the Harvard style of referencing so that you can learn about this format and apply it without any confusion or dilemma. You can use the guidelines given in this article and practice sufficiently to thoroughly understand the formatting rules.

Looking for writing essay?
We deliver the most quality essay.
$5 - $7 / page
$8 - $12 / page
$7 - $10 / page
Proceed to order
About the Author
Theodore Hammond - Profile Image
Experienced in Writing Writing

With a degree in English and a Master's degree in Education, I am confident that I can provide quality academic writing.

Hire me
Related Articles
Articles Img
  • 6 min read
MLA Date Format – Best Think-Tank Writer’s Guide On How To Cite Dates
By Carson Clark
Articles Img
  • 5 min read
A Brilliant Catalog On How To Cite A Website in MLA Format With Top-Class Examples
By Anonymous
Articles Img
  • 3 min read
The Best Aide On How to Cite a Movie in MLA Format With Top Examples
By Anonymous
Browse All
Let’s Talk!

Enter your email, and we shall get back to you in an hour.