Using the Harvard reference style

This page provides information from the NTNU University Library to help you when you need to use the Harvard style.

Norsk versjon: Bruke referansestilen Harvard

See also: Academic writing and Using and citing sources

The Harvard style #

Are you writing a paper for which you need help on using the Harvard style?

The Harvard style is used in the social sciences, technology and natural sciences. Check which reference style your department recommends before you begin writing your paper.

Other styles

  • APA style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • Chicago style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • Vancouver style is used in medicine and natural science, and sometimes in technology.

Examples of using the Harvard style in a reference list #


The examples show how to write references in-text and in reference lists based on what kind of source you are citing.

Reference list in Harvard style #

When writing a reference list in Harvard style:

  • Arrange the list alphabetically by author’s surname
  • Use italics for
    • Titles of journals
    • Book titles
  • Start the reference list on a new page. Use “Reference list” or “Literature list” as the heading.
  • Include the edition if it is specified in the publication. You need not add the date of printing if this is just a reprint of the current edition. If it is the first edition, do not write the edition.

Personal communication in Harvard style #

In the Harvard style, personal communication should not be included in the reference list, if the information cannot be gathered again. Personal communications are conversations, e-mails, phone calls, etc. Remember to ask approval from the partner of the conversation before citing him/her. You

can cite personal communication in the text. You should include the name and title of your conversation partner, the date of communication and the context in which the communication took place.

The Harvard style in-text #

When using the Harvard style in-text, you must remember:

  • If a reference has more than 3 authors, only write the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”
  • Multiple publications by the same author published the same year are distinguished by a, b, c etc. after the year: Hansen (1988a) and Hansen (1988b).
  • When a work has no identifiable author, use the title. Example: (Et enklere og mer rettferdig inntektssystem, 1996)
  • When using secondary sources, name your source and cite the secondary reference. Example: Johnson and Peters’ studies (1970, as cited in Wagner 1982)…
  • Use page numbers when:
    • it is a direct quote
    • if you use ideas from a specific page/specific pages in a work

References #

Example: Researchers such as Warwick (1992), Taylor and Smith (1994) and King et al. (1997) found that…

Citations #

Direct citations shorter than 2-3 lines are integrated in the text and are clearly marked with quotes. Citations longer than 2-3 lines should be in a separate indented paragraph, without quotes.


  • Short citation: “Sitering vil si ordrett gjengivelse av andres arbeider. Da skal det være ordrett, og ikke misbrukt i forhold til den sammenheng sitatet brukes i” (Stene, 1999, p. 125).
  • The name of the author is integrated in the paragraph: Stene (1999, p. 125) defines citation as: “Sitering vil si ordrett gjengivelse av andres arbeider. Da skal det være ordrett, og ikke misbrukt i forhold til den sammenhengen sitatet brukes i”.
  • Source with many authors: “Ved direkte sitater skal henvisningen gi informasjon om forfatter, årstall og sidetall” (Furseth and Everett, 1997, p. 141).

Indirect citation - paraphrases #

A paraphrase is a reformulation of the original text.

Example: Furseth and Everett (1997) maintain that the primary reason behind the use of references and bibliographies is the ideal of research as a collective endeavour. Research should be verifiable, and those reading your work should be able to find those sources your material is based upon.

More on the Harvard style #

There is no official manual for the Harvard style. Information on how you write references in-text and in a reference list with the Harvard style is based on Pears and Shields (2016).

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2016) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 10th ed. London: Palgrave.

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