Student Accommodation Blog

A Brief Introduction to Referencing

University will likely be the first time you are asked to officially reference within your essays. You will need to reference any work you refer to, including books, journals, articles, visual media, eBooks, etc, or else you risk being penalised for plagiarism. 

There are two components of referencing: in-text citations and a reference list at the end of your work.

Harvard referencing is one of the most commonly used referencing systems worldwide, so to get a head start, read this simple introduction.

How to reference a book

Let's start easy by looking at how to reference a book that has only one author. In your reference list you will format the book like this:

Author, Initial(s) Year of publication, Title, Publisher, Place of publication.

So, let’s say you are referencing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous book The Great Gatsby, the reference will look like this:

Fitzgerald, FS 2004, The Great Gatsby, Scribner, New York.

You will also need to cite the book in the body of your essay, whether directly quoting from it or paraphrasing it. To do so, you should mention the author’s name, along with the date of publication and the page number of the part of the text in which you are referring to. For example:

“So we beat on, boats against the current…” (Fitzgerald 2004, p. 193). Or: Fitzgerald (2004, p. 100) portrays…

How to reference a book that has two authors

In this case, the reference should look a little like this:

Author, Initial(s), Author, Initial(s) Year of publication, Title, Publisher, Place of publication.

Thus, the citation would look like this:

“Quote…” (Author & Author Year of publication, Page number).

If the book in question has more than three authors, you are not required to cite every author’s name. Simply put the first author who is listed, followed by “et al.” which is Latin for “and others”. 

For example, if you were referencing from The Australian film industry, it would look like this in the text: Leeder et al. (1996, p. 110) argue that…

Final reference list entry

Leeder, SR, Dobson, AJ, Gibbers, RW, Patel, NK, Matthews, PS, Williams DW & Mariot, DL 1996, The Australian film industry, Dominion Press, Adelaide.

Of course, there is a lot more to the Harvard referencing system and each University will have their preferred method, but with this basic understanding you’ll be able to grasp the complexities a lot easier.

Good luck!