Referencing is a very crucial step in academic writing on all levels. It gives your work the best finish it needs and also makes the marker have a clear understanding of your work.

Scholarly referencing

It is the collection of points that direct readers to the cited sources in your work. Referencing provides critical information to the reader i.e.

  • The work’s title
  • The author
  • Publication type

Why and when should you reference?

Avoid plagiarism

Citation protects you from plagiarism accusations. You have to give reference to any work sourced from outside that you have used in your text.

How to effectively and consistently reference sources

Systematic referencing

A dissertation may contain tens to hundreds of sources. You may need to have a systematic approach to track and organize the sources you have cited and read.

Involve software as a helping tool

You may use spreadsheets or notes to keep you in check. The best way to combat it is to use reference management software. There are many available for free like Zotero or others that require subscriptions such as RefWorks.

Parenthetical styles of referencing

They are the most common styles in use and get applied in many fields. In Arts and Humanities, for example, the MLA and Chicago styles are dominant, whereas the APA style gets used in Social Sciences.

The above styles allow readers to locate sources with ease at the work’s end. It demands that you include the name of the author.


The “author-date” format is the widely used style in parenthetical referencing. It includes the surname of the author and the year of publication. The year comes first to match the entry.

  • Harvard system

The Harvard referencing type gets to define the information types that should get embedded in citation and formatting principles. Most institutions do not use it, and some that do expect you to have a manual format.

  • MLA

It does not incorporate dates in the identification of work. It is economical than other systems as it only identifies sources by the name of the author and minimal punctuation.

Parenthetical styles examples

  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Havard
  • Chicago (author-date)

Footnote/endnote style of referencing

These styles get used in Arts and Humanities. They mostly include page numbers. It works on the assumption that most readers may have the feel of finding the sources of the quotations they read to have a better understanding of the text or the arguments.

Some referencing styles on the footnotes don’t separate citations at the work’s end. The most commonly used footnote referencing styles are Oxford and MHRA, which requires that the details be availed in the footnote alphabetically.

Footnote style examples

  • Chicago (footnote style)
  • Oxford
  • MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association)

Numbered referencing styles

These styles get used in the sciences. They get used in places where there is an enormous collection of references, like 5-10 references to be briefed. In this case, each source gets a unique digit and get used for every citation that subsequently follows suit. They get listed at the end of the document in numerical order.

The numbered or numerical styles include Vancouver, which is the most widely used style. They vary from university to university and are closely related to the Harvard style of referencing.