How To Reference Essays Harvard Style Paper

Harvard Style Paper Guidelines

Harvard Style Cover Page

Harvard essay format is very specific and organized. It requires a very particular title page with the following instructions:

  • The title of the paper is placed halfway down the page and written in capital letters.
  • After the title, three lines down write the name of the author in small letters.
  • Move four lines down and place the name of the class.
  • Move one line down put the name of the professor.
  • The next line entails the name of the school.
  • Then move to the next and write the city and state located and the final line should have the date.
  • The cover page of the Harvard essay format gives you all the information one needs to know about the author in question.

There are several key components to note when using the Harvard format. The title in a Harvard essay format is right justified. A partial title expresses the main idea in the essay between it, and the page number is exactly five spaces. The Harvard essay format cover sheet would like roughly like this:

The Harvard Essay Template

  • by (Name of the author)
  • Name of the Class (Course)
  • Professor
  • Name of University
  • City and State where university is located
  • Date

Here are other essay formatting styles:



Paragraphs in a Harvard Format Essay

The Harvard essay format paragraphs are highly structured. The first section of the article is supposed to be captivating and entertaining. The article may begin with a lively quotation or an interesting fact and information that sheds light on the essay in question.

The introduction should smoothly lead to the thesis statement. The thesis statement refers to the main idea of the sentence and a summary of what the article body entails.

The first sentence in the body paragraph should tell the reader what the paragraph is discussing. The topic sentence is followed by supporting facts that relate to it. The details in the supporting sentences can be facts, quotations or analysis.

The paragraph then concludes with a sentence that summarizes what the paragraph is about and leads into the next section smoothly. Subheadings can also be used to introduce new subtopics and are italicized. 

Transition between the Paragraphs

Writing an article using the Harvard format one should show the transition from one paragraph to the next and these paragraphs should be interconnected.

The topic should gradually grow from one point to the next. A paragraph in Harvard format has three parts:

- The topic sentence

- Supporting details 

- Closing sentence form

Citations in a Harvard Style Paper

One can use in-text citations. With the Harvard style, a quote uses the author's name and first initial, year of publication and page number where the information appears. Citation for each fact is provided, if not it is considered plagiarism which is a serious offense. In-text citations for example from J. K. Rowling book published in 2004 page 45 would look like (Rowling J.K,2004,45).These quotes make the Harvard format essay easy to understand and comprehend as one read.

Harvard style uses a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial at size 12. Fancy fonts are not allowed because the Harvard format is used in writing outstanding academic and research essays. The essay should be double-spaced with smooth left margins. In the Harvard format titles of journals, newspapers or books or websites are italicized in in-text citations while that of poems and short stories is written in "quotation marks". This helps readers know what they are referring to read quickly through an essay written in the Harvard format.


The conclusion of a Harvard format essay is vital and should be written with high accuracy understanding and mastery. The first sentence of the conclusion is used to put emphasis on the thesis statement and remind the reader what the essay has proved showed or theorized. After the first sentence provides brief information of the main points that were discussed throughout the whole piece to encourage remembrance of the most important points that were discussed. It mainly involves a summary of the main points of the article in other words. The essay should then finish with an outstanding powerful message that leaves the reader still thinking minutes or hours after they have finished reading the article.

The conclusion is followed by the reference page which consists of the reference list and is placed in its page known as the reference page.

The general format of a Harvard essay referencing is referenced as follows:

  • Book Author's Last Name, First Initial
  • Year of publication
  • The title of book (capitalized)
  • City of Publication: Publisher

Harvard referencing style uses an author-date approach and does not focus on one specific type of essay. There are some rules relating to citations depending on the number of contributors to the work, and if you are citing a quotation. Harvard style footnotes are instead cited in short, parenthetical (in brackets) notes within the text.

Table Of Contents

General Reference Guidelines

Harvard writing style has a very distinct set of guidelines that you must follow.

  • Clear font. Recommended: Times New Roman 12pt font
  • Double spaced
  • Title page
  • Paper’s title in a header
  • Page number
  • Citations page titled “References”
  • 1” margins

Title Page

Harvard formatting requires a very specific title page:

  • The title of your essay should be halfway down the page in all capital letters.
  • Three lines down should be your name (the name of the author). This is without capital letters.
  • Four lines down and then put the name of the class
  • The following line should have the professor.
  • Next line is the name of the school, then the city and country/state where it’s located
  • On the line after that should be the date.

The header of your essay should contain a short description of the title and a page number. A partial title and page number in the Harvard writing style could look like:

Red Scare 1

Note several key components, the header should be:

  • Right justified
  • Express the main idea of the essay in a shortened form
  • There should be exactly 5 spaces between the header and the

In-Text Citation

The Citation “Harvard Style” is another name given to the “Author-Date Style” of referencing and citation.

  • In-text citations in this style usually appear in the following format: (Author’s Last Name Year of publication, Page Number(s))

    • Example: (Gomez 2016, p. 89-91)
  • If you use the author’s name in a sentence, you can omit it from the brackets. The citation should be right next to the name.

    • Example: Gomez (2016, p. 89-91) states that quinoa is a great source of protein (2016, p. 89-91)
  • If you reference an entire work, just include the author’s name and the year of publication.

    • Example: Quinoa plantations has brought economic benefits to Bolivia (Gomez 2016).
  • When citing a source that you have not read yourself, you would cite the source you read in the reference list and add “as cited by” in your actual essay.

    • Example: Pitt (as cited by Gomez 2016, p. 82) states that “quinoa is the perfect protein meal on a movie set.”
      If a source has two or three authors, all should be listed in brackets.
    • Example: Quinoa is the future of nutrition (Gomez, Summers, and Brinker, 2016)
  • If a source has more than three authors, you need to cite the last name of the first author, followed by an “et al.” as well as the publishing year.

    • Example: A source of protein to replace meat products was a dream for many people for many years, and finally, that dream can be reached (Gomez et al. 2016)
  • In the case that you have no author, you can place the title with the date in parenthesis.

    • Example: Regardless of the environmental damage, people continue to eat meat; up to 50% of the world’s water is consumed by livestock (Quinoa: The Future, 2016).
  • When a date is not included in the source, just omit the information when citing your it in your essay.

    • Example: 90% of nutritional value that is found in meat is also found in quinoa seeds. The remaining 10% can be replaced by eggs: another great source of protein (Gomez).


An essay outline is a great tool to use if you want to keep track of your sources. You can do so by listing a point and adding information (Author name, Date) in the subheading.
Harvard format template:

  • Your information goes here (Author, Date)

  • While you write an outline in a citation Harvard style, make sure your information has a structure, and your points are of equal importance.

Outline Template

  • Introduction
  • Main point/Thesis
    • Main point of paragraph 1
    • Main point of paragraph 2
    • Main point of paragraph 3
  • Body
  • Main point #1
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Transition to Main Point #2
  • Main point #2
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Transition to Main Point #3
  • Main point #3
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
  • Conclusion
    • Summary of your paper
    • Restate your thesis.
  • Bibliography: Here you can input your bibliographical citations or paste your URL’s so you can access pages easier. This is best done in a bullet-point list.


Your reference list appears at the very end of your essay on a separate page. Harvard style references should be prefaced by “References” on the very top and center of the page without quotation marks. While citing, if the name is not available, then the title, in quotation marks, would replace it.

Unlike other citation styles, when an author is cited, only the first initial of the first name is listed. The Harvard bibliography style limits you use only references that you cited in your work (unlike other citation styles, where you cite further reading material). Additionally, your sources should be listed in alphabetical order with a hanging indent.

Here are examples from our professional writer on how to do a Harvard referencing for the most common types of text:

  • Books: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Title. Edition. (Only include the edition if it is not the first edition) The city published: Publisher, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). Birds in Flight. New York: Penguin Publish. 90-104
  • Books with two to three authors: Last name, First initial. and Last name, First initial. (Year published). Title. Edition. (Only include the edition if it is not the first edition) The city published: Publisher, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. Peters, K. (1983) Birds in Flight. New York: Penguin Publish. 90-104
  • Book chapters: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Chapter title. In: First initial. Last name, ed., Book Title, 1st ed.* City: Publisher, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). Penguins In: Birds in Flight. New York: Penguin Publish. 90-104
  • Journal Articles: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Article title. Journal, Volume (Issue), Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). A Bird In Flight: Aerodynamics. New York Times, 65(2) 90-104.
  • Newspaper Articles: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Article title. Newspaper, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). A Bird In Flight: Aerodynamics. New York Times, 90-104.
  • Websites: Last name, First initial (Year published). Page title. [online] Website name. Available at: URL [Accessed Day Mo. Year].

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). A Bird In Flight: Aerodynamics. Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]

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When it comes to citing things Harvard style or author-date style, it is crucial to check with your instructor on specifics of this style. Unfortunately, there is no official way. There are a couple of different schools that cite it such as the University of Western Australia and Cardiff University. In case your instructor is unavailable and can not provide you with the needed information, my advice would be to check out their websites and make sure you’re doing it right. No matter how you decide to do your citations, make sure to stay consistent in your formatting. In the Harvard citation style, you have more freedom to format your work the way you like. Choose the way you want to do it but stick to it! Also, make safe choices when it comes to formatting your paper. For example, as the article states, using the Times New Roman font is recommended, but I would personally strongly encourage it. Best of luck with your essay!

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