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Harvard - references in text

This is a guide for writing references to different types of sources in the text according to Harvard style.

A video about Harvard

Introduction to the Harvard system

A video about the Harvard reference style.

Citing in text

In this version of the Harvard style an in-text reference should include the author, the year of publication and, if applicable, page number(s). Please note that there are other versions of Harvard where  page numbers are not always stated in the in-text reference. The in-text reference is placed directly in brackets after the sentences (before the full stop) you have paraphrased, i.e. the sentences you with your own words have expressed what someone else has written.

Citing references to different types of sources

Source with one author

The structure of the European Union is often described in the shape of three pillars. The first pillar is the largest (Tallberg 2004, 65).

You can also reference your source directly:

Tallberg (2004, 65) describes the structure of the European Union in the shape of three pillars, of which the first pillar is the largest.

Source with two or three authors

(Fossum, Skantz and Katzeff 1997, 25-31).


Fossum, Skantz and Katzeff (1997, 25-31) mean...

Source with four or more authors

If there are more than three authors, only the first author should be used, followed by "et al."

(Johnson et al. 2001, 226).


Johnson et al. (2001, 226) found that...

Book chapters

For the in-text reference include only the last name(s) of the author(s) of the book chapter, year of publication and pages number(s).

The reference list should provide information that the source is a chapter in a book.

Web pages

State author, year of publication and, if applicable, page number(s) (page numbers are missing in most cases for web pages). If there is no personal author, use the corporate author (company, organization, authority etc.).

(Volvo 2019).


According to Volvo (2019) production will…

Material with no personal author

Sources may not have a personal author, but organizations, companies, authorities will function as “authors” in those cases. If a journal article does not have a personal author, use the title of the journal as an in-text reference.

(Frankfurter Allgemeine 2015, 21).

No year of publication available

If no information about year of publication is available state n.d. (no date).

(Johnson n.d., 15).

Sources with no page numbers

If books, journal articles or a reports do not have page numbers, state chapter/headline and paragraph instead. For information on how to cite web pages with no page numbers see web pages.

In the in-text reference example below is paragraph 3 in the “Introduction” chapter in the book by Smith published 2018 cited:

(Smith 2018, Introduction, para. 3)

Use of acronyms/abbreviations

The first time you cite provide the full name of organisation followed by the standard acronym/abbreviation in square brackets. 

(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] 2010, 89).

When you cite from the same source again you only write the abbreviation.

(OECD 2010, 95).

Provide the acronym/abbreviation of the organization in the reference list followed by the full name within parenthesis, for example: UN (United Nations).

Several works by one author in the same year

If you are quoting several works published by the same author in the same year, they should be separated by adding a lower case letter directly after the year for each item. Please note that the works should be separated the same way in the reference list (by adding a lower case letter after the year).

Previous results confirmed the thesis (Duncan 2000a, 167-169), but later research disproved it (Duncan 2000b, 40-44).

Citing multiple sources supporting the same idea

When citing multiple sources parenthetically, place the in-text references in alphabetical order, separating them with semicolons.


Studies (Jones and Wilson 2019, 14; Smith 2016, 38; Yourstone 2012, 145) show…

Illustrations (photographs, figures, diagrams, tables etc.)

You can cite illustrations in your text without including the actual illustration in your text. If you include an illustration made by someone else in your paper you must check if it is protected by copyright. For illustrations protected by copyright you must ask for permission from the copyright owner before you include them in your text. If you use an illustration in your paper include a caption with the following information image number (e.g. Figure 1), title, creator of illustration and year. Cite the person (artist, photographer etc.) who have made the illustration in the running text.

Image 5 (Hazel 2015, 32) is a typical example of...

The painting "The fighting temeraire" (Turner 1839) shows..

Secondary sources

To cite a source from a secondary source is generally to be avoided, since you are expected to have read the works you cite. If a primary source (original source) is not available you may use secondary sources. In those cases mention the original author and date would be used in the text and the text citation would include the words “cited in.”, see Writing references Harvard. In the example below you have read Bob Smith's book "Democracy" published 1972 where he on page 67 cites Tom Small's book "Civil rights" published 1832:

Small (1832, cited in Smith 1972, 67) claims....


(Small 1832, cited in Smith 1972, 67).

Audiovisual media

The equivalent for an audiovisual source to a page reference becomes a time stamp for a video lecture or an audiobook. You specify how many minutes and seconds into the file the current section starts.

(Author/equivalent Year, chapter (if applicable), minutes:seconds)

For longer files the time stamp can be expanded to include hours: hour:minute:second.

(Smith 2010, ch. 3, 4:35)