Whilst our Harvard Referencing Guide looks at how to format a Reference List, this guide looks at how to include your citations in your text formatted to Cite Them Right Harvard. More information and further examples can be found from the book Cite Them Right available at 808.027 PEA

There are 2 parts to referencing:

  • the in-text citation – this acknowledges briefly, in-text, where an idea has come from, eg (Copland, 2018)
  • the Reference List – this comes at the end of your work, and includes full details of each citation 

Each citation must be accompanied with a full reference in the Reference List, formatted correctly to Harvard.

In-text citations are added for both indirect and direct quotations:

Indirect quotations

Indirect quotations, or paraphrasing, is when you rewrite an authors ideas or thoughts into your own words.

Paraphrasing is more than just changing a few words in the same sentence eg,

The cat sat on the mat.

The feline reclined on the carpet.

This is not paraphrasing, and could be seen as plagiarism.  Instead:

  • Change the grammar, and structure of the sentence
  • Ideally, as you read, take notes in your own words. Then, write from your notes rather from the original.
  • Discuss a concept, then apply your citation

When you use another’s ideas or thoughts or refer to their research, paraphrase it and accompany it with an in-text citation, usually at the end of the sentence eg,

…. (Cottrell, 2013).

This acknowledges where the idea/research has come from and demonstrates good academic practice ie showing that you have read and understood a concept, then applied it to your learning.

Although typically placed at the end of a sentence, if you are discussing multiple ideas in the same sentence, you can add further citations mid-sentence. That’s fine, but:

  • Try to avoid using too many lengthy, possibly confusing, sentences
  • Ensure it’s clear to the reader which citation refers to which idea

Now, accompany your citation with an entry in your Reference List, detailing the information required in the correct format eg,

Cottrell, S. (2013) The study skills handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Direct quotations

Direct quotations are when you use an authors exact words, taken directly from any source.

These need to be acknowledged as such by being included in either ‘singe’ or “double” quotation marks – whichever you choose, be consistent.

Direct quotations must always be accompanied with an in-text citation, including page number eg,

…”study skills” (Cottrell, 2013, p.123).

This acknowledges, the author, the year of publication, and also the page number of the quotation.

Now, accompany your citation with an entry in your Reference List, detailing the information required in the correct format eg,

Cottrell, S. (2013) The study skills handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave.


  • Be careful of using too many quotations – the more of somebody else’s words you use, the fewer of your own your tutor has to mark.
  • Instead, try whenever possible to use indirect quotations (paraphrasing), and leave the quotations to make impact where you need it.
  • Too many quotations can often disrupt the flow of your written work.
  • Short quotations (up to 2-3 lines) can be included as part of your sentence.
  • Longer quotations (more than 2-3 lines) should be indented as a separate paragraph. Because it’s indented, there’s no need to enclose longer quotations in “quotation marks”.
Back to top

Alternative citation style 2

If the author's name forms part of your sentence, there's no need to duplicate that in your citation; you just need to slightly amend your citation - see below.

Using the author’s name as part of your sentence as demonstrated below is fine, and mixing the two styles works well. However, try to make your preference the style demonstrated above. Your tutors want to hear your voice – overusing Style 2 can sometimes read like a commentary of ‘who said what’.

Depending on the nature of your assignment, there may be ocassions where Style 2 is the more natural form. That's fine; just be aware of the two styles and decide which is best for purpose.

Indirect quotation 

If you include the author’s name as part of your sentence, there’s no need to duplicate this in the ciation eg,

Grover’s study (2018) indicates that rabbits…

In the study by Copland (2017), cats were proven… 

Direct quotation 

Likewise, if you include the author’s name as part of your sentence when making a direct quotation eg,

Grover’s study indicates that “rabbits make the better pet” (2018, p. 123). Or,

Grover’s study (2018) indicates that “rabbits make the better pet" (p. 123).

Where you place the page number might depend on the proximity of the quotation to the citation in the sentence.

Back to top

General points and FAQs

  • Over citing can disrupt the flow of your text. Knowing when to cite and when not to cite is all part of academic writing and takes time and practice to master. For example, if discussing Shakespeare, there’s no need to add a citation for his year of birth as this is considered to be ‘common knowledge’.
  • ‘Common knowledge’ can be difficult to define. Try applying the ‘three strike rule’ – if you find the same detail mentioned in more than 3 places, then think of it as common knowledge. If in doubt though, add a citation.
  • Ensure the placement of your citation makes it clear to the reader where the original idea/research has come from.
  • Ensure each citation has an entry in your Reference List.
  • If you’re bored of introducing each citation ‘Research suggests…’, take a look at Manchester Phrasebank for alternative ways of saying the same thing:
    Varying your language can make writing and reading your work more interesting.
How do I add more than one source into a citation?
How do I cite a citation from somebody else's work?
When do I use 'et al'?
Examples taken from literature

Getting help

For further help with referencing, details of our drop-ins and workshops can be found from the StudySkills site, along with further information on referencing and avoiding plagiarism.