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Referencing - BU Harvard: Citing in the Main Text of Your Work

Citing in the main text of your work: general

Click on the headings below for information

  • Place your citation where you decide it should naturally occur within a sentence.
  • Depending on your writing style, it may follow a phrase/idea or appear at the end of a sentence or paragraph. It should always appear before the full stop.

e.g. As Woods (1999, p.21) said, "good practices must be taught" and so we...

e.g. In a popular study Woods (1999) argued that we have to teach good practices...

e.g. Theory rises out of practice, and once validated, returns to direct or explain the practice (Woods 1999).

  • For all quotes include page numbers and quotation marks. If the source you are using does not have page numbers then you cannot include that detail, which would be acceptable (check with a BU Librarian if you are unsure).
  • If the quote is less than a line long "it may be included in the main body of text like this" (Bournemouth University 2020, p.1). 
  • As demonstrated in this next example:

"Longer quotations should be indented and appear in double quotation marks, so this is an example showing how to insert longer quotations" (Bournemouth University 2020, p.1).

  • Check your Programme and Unit Handbooks or ask BU academics for details on how to format the line spacing in your assignments e.g. it may need to be 1.5 line spaced.
  • When directly quoting text / copying particular parts of a document, the location of that part e.g. page number should always be given in brackets, after the author and year e.g. (Woods at al. 2020, p.17).
  • Webpages do not have page numbers, so you cannot include that detail when quoting text or copying content from webpages, but, you must still cite the author and year.
  • When citing particular parts of a document, the location of that part (e.g. section of a report) may be given after the year within the brackets (e.g. BU 2020, section 2.1).
  • Where pagination is not available, you may include a chapter number instead (if available) e.g. (Roberts 2013, chapter 2).
  • When citing a webpage, do not insert the URL (Uniform Resource Locator / web address) in the body of your text.
  • If no personal author is stated use the organisation or company as the author.

e.g. Tesco (2011) suggest “Quoted text from the webpage would be inserted here”

  • Webpages do not usually include page numbers, so are not added when quoting them.
  • These should be referenced as though they were a quotation taken from a published work, but without page numbers.

e.g. The stereotypical Hollywood icon as typified by Rhett Butler in his words to Scarlett O'Hara “Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.” (Gone with the Wind 1939).

Inserting and citing figures in the main text of your work:
Here is an example showing how you can insert a figure in your work, followed by the citation e.g.

Table showing statistics

Figure 1: Table showing BU Library and Learning Support Key Performance Indicators 2012-2015 (Bournemouth University 2018)


The source of the table above is a webpage, so page numbers are not included in the citation underneath the figure.

If the figure is taken from a source that has page numbers, include them after the date.


If the figure has been copied from a source, then you have amended it e.g. another axis added to a graph, add ‘amended from’ in the citation underneath e.g.


Figure 2: Comparison of sales data (amended from Smith 2010, p.11)

Referring to figures in the main text of your work:
When referring to figures in the main text of your work use the figure number.

  • e.g. Four years of Bournemouth University Library’s data (see Figure 1) shows…
  • e.g. Sales data in Figure 2 highlights an interesting comparison…
  • e.g. Figure 3 shows a photograph (personal collection) of Bournemouth University’s Library…

(Check the Example essay which shows an example of how a photo is inserted as a figure).

Referencing a figure at the end of your work:
If the source of the figure is not your own (e.g. a photograph you have taken, or, primary data you gathered for your dissertation/final project), so it has been obtained from another source, then you should include full reference to it in the list at the end of your work. Reference it according to the type of source it is taken from e.g. if the figure is an image you found in a book, follow guidance for referencing a book.

Citing in the main text of your work: specific

Both name and year are given in brackets:

  • e.g. A more recent study (Stevens 1998) has shown the way theory and practical work interact.
  • e.g. Theory rises out of practice, and once validated, returns to direct or explain the practice (Stevens 1998).
  • e.g. In a popular study Harvey (1992) argued that we have to teach good practices…
  • e.g. As Harvey (1992, p.21) said, “good practices must be taught” and so we…

These are distinguished by adding lower case letters (a,b,c, etc.) after the year and within the brackets:

  • e.g. Johnson (1994a) discussed the subject…

Then the year and lower case letter remain noted together (e.g. 1994a) in the corresponding reference you add to the list at the end of your work.

If you have citations in the main text of your work with an identical author's name and year, the added lower case letters after the year determines ordering in your reference list at the end of your work e.g. a reference starting with Johnson, C., 1994a. would be listed before Johnson, C., 1994b.

The surnames of both should be given:-

  • e.g. Matthews and Jones (1997) have proposed that…

The surname of the first author only should be given, followed by et al.:

  • e.g. Office costs amount to 20% of total costs in most business (Wilson et al. 1997).

Then all authors’ names should be noted in the reference list at the end.

Citations are usually listed in chronological order:

  • e.g. (Smith 1999; Jones 2001; Turner 2006)

For all examples use the same author notation in the list of references at the end.
For webpages use the organisation or company author:-

  • e.g. In the Energy Saving Trust (2011) report Your Carbon Footprint Explained…

For newspaper articles use the newspaper title:

  • e.g. More people than ever seem to be using retail home delivery (The Times 1996).

For films, use the title of the film:

  • e.g. The stereotypical Hollywood icon as typified by Rhett Butler in his words to Scarlett O'Hara “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. (Gone with the Wind 1939).

For a dictionary or encyclopaedia, if the co-operative work of many authors, none of whom are a main editor, the title of the work may be used instead:

  • e.g. “A quotation from the text would be inserted here.” (Philips Encyclopaedia 2008, p.11).

For other sources, use ‘Anon.’:

  • e.g. In one history (Anon. 1908) it was stated that…

Write an organisation's name in full, and, include the abbreviation in brackets. Thereafter in your work, when you refer to the organisation, you can use the abbreviation. 

How you present this depends on your academic writing style, here are some examples:

Example 1:

In this example, it is the first time writing the organisation name, followed immediately by abbreviation, in brackets (then write the abbreviation thereafter, in the rest of your work):

According to the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), UK universities...etc. ...your paraphrased words would be written here, then it ends with a citation, using the BU Harvard author date method (HEPI 2020).


Or, it may be written like this...

Example 2:
In this example, the Higher Education Policy Institute is written, then abbreviated immediately afterwards, with the year of the quoted text 

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI 2020) proposes "quoted/copied text is inserted here".

In this case, no page numbers are included with the quote because it is taken from a webpage with no page numbers. The citation in this example is placed at the beginning, not at the end of sentence.

Or, it may be written like this...


Example 3:

You may not include the organisation name to describe who you are paraphrasing or quoting, so you may include the abbreviation in square brackets, within the round brackets, like this, for example:

"Quoted/copied text is inserted here" The Higher Education Policy Institute [HEPI] 2020).

Abbreviating organisation names has the bonus function of helping with word count i.e. HEPI does not have to be spelled out every single time; HEPI is one word instead of four.

Sometimes you will find information, diagrams, theories, quotations, etc. which were not originally written by the author(s) of the source you are reading. If you want to refer to this information, it is best research practice to try and find the original work and read it yourself. 

This allows you to check that the information is correct, represented accurately and that you have the full details.

If it is not possible to find the original source, you can cite second hand.

In this example, you have read a source by Jones written in 2007. Jones has described and cited a 1999 study by Woods:-

  • e.g. In a popular study Woods (1999 cited by Jones 2007) argued that we have to teach good practices…
  • e.g. As Woods (1999 cited by Jones 2007, p.21) said, "good practices must be taught" and so...

You should only include the source you have read in the list of references at the end of your work; Jones 2007 in this example.

Only cite the contributor:

  • e.g. Software development has been given as the cornerstone in this industry (Bantz 1995).

See the Reference List: Book section for how to format a contribution in an edited book in your list of references.

It is recommended you mention the person’s name and must cite the source author:

  • e.g. Richard Hammond stressed the part psychology plays in advertising in an interview with Marshall (2013).
  • e.g. “Advertising will always play on peoples’ desires”, Richard Hammond said in a recent article (Marshall 2013, p.67).

You should list the work that has been published, i.e. Marshall, in your list of references.

These should only be included in the text and not the list of references. Include book, chapter and verse. If quoting you may add the translation or edition:

  • e.g. ‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself’ (John 15:4, New International Version).

Should be cited in full:

  • e.g. Human Rights Act 1998 legislates that it is unlawful for a public authority to…
  • We recommend that references to personal communications such as letters and emails are given only within the main text of your work and are not added in the reference list at the end of your work.
  • You may be instructed, or choose, to include evidence of personal communications in an Appendix section (check with academic setting your assignment before including Appendices).
  • Cite personal communications only in the main text of your work. Give the name and/or occupation of person. Provide an accurate date when the communication took place.

e.g. According to Professor J.O. Reiss, many designers do not understand the needs of disabled people (personal communication, 18 April 1997, Appendix 1).

  • When citing research data which you have collected (your own primary research) it is recommended you include copies or summaries of this data in Appendices.
  • If you wish to use photos you have taken, ensure you have considered ethics / confidentiality, and, check it is acceptable to use your own photos with BU academics who set and mark the assignment. If you choose to use personal photos, insert them as figures following the instructions on Citing in the main text of your work - point 6, and, an example is shown in the Example Essay.

If academic staff authorise that you can use an unpublished source, follow this guidance:

  • University lectures are not published sources to be used as academic evidence in your work (except when an academic grants permission to do so). The purpose of an academic's lecture (e.g. recordings, slides and notes posted on Brightspace units) is to aid your learning and direct you to sources for independent study and revision.
  • Guidance on private / internal documents or guidelines (e.g. internal NHS organisation information that must remain confidential) is available on the Guidelines or Codes of Practice page of this guide.

If academic staff authorise that you can use an unpublished source, follow this guidance:

  • Cite in the main text i.e. using author date and reference the source at the end of your work as you would a published document.
  • You may wish to include a copy of the unpublished source in an appendix (Note: this is not always possible where the document is very large or the content is confidential.

Surname/Family Name, INITIALS., Year (if available). Title of unpublished source [type of source]. Place: Organisation if available. Collection/archive details if available (Collection, Document number, Geographical Town/Place: Name of Library/Archive/Repository). Unpublished.

  • e.g. Breen, A.C., 2010. Research Protocol - Characteristics of lumbar spine intervertebral kinematics in healthy adults and their reproducibility over time: A standardised reference and reliability study for future explanatory trials of mechanical interventions for non-specific low back pain, Version 2. Bournemouth: Anglo-European College of Chiropractic. Unpublished.

This is based on APA, 2009. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. Washington: APA. Further advice on citing unpublished documents can be found in BS 6371:1983 (access via British Standards Online).