Harvard Style (Author-Date) Citation Formatting Guide

How to Format Harvard Style
By Nikki Borgel on Sep 11, 2020
eContent Pro
Harvard Style

As researchers know, properly citing your sources in a research paper or scholarly article to avoid plagiarism is of critical importance. Unfortunately, most citation systems can be hard to follow. Out of all of the citation styles, one of the most difficult to adhere to is the Harvard style (also known as the Author-Date format) because, unlike other formats such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and AMA, the Harvard guidelines lack clarity and do not have a ruling body changing the guidelines every few years.

While looking for exact guidelines may be confusing, Harvard style gives scholars more freedom by only dictating guidelines for in-text citations and the reference list, rather than the full format of the paper. Since there are no overall formatting guidelines, it is best to use your most professional judgement or ask for further directions from your publisher or professor when it comes to components such as font style, size, and spacing.

However, being sure to format citations properly within the text and in the reference list can be difficult, and any mistakes can jeopardize the credibility of your research. Fortunately, there are many professional copy editors who specialize in specific formatting such as Harvard Style, including eContent Pro International. Understanding the importance of properly formatting an academic style, utilizing a professional service to format your document is vital to ensuring the style is being properly followed. This way you can avoid any publication delays. To help authors and academics like yourself, we have listed the key guidelines on how to properly format your document in Harvard style below.

In-Text Citations

Properly citing the sources used for your research can be the difference between your paper being accepted by the scholarly community or your paper being rejected and accused of plagiarism. Each time you use a direct quote, or even paraphrase information from another source, you need to include an in-text citation within the body of your article. Here are some of the rules and examples:

  • Each in-text citation should be enclosed in parentheses and include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and page numbers if applicable.
    • Ex: (Smith, 2020) or (Smith, 2020, p. 34)
  • If the author of the work is mentioned within the sentence itself, only the year and page number need to be included in the citation.
    • Ex: … as mentioned by Smith (2020, p. 34)
  • If a publication has multiple authors, all can be listed within the in-text citation if there are three or less.
    • Ex: (Smith, Jones and Wilson, 2020, p. 34)
  • If there are more than three authors, list one and include “et al.” in place of the others.
    • Ex: (Smith et al., 2020, p. 34)
  • If there is no author, replace with the name of the organization publishing the article.
    • Ex: (World Health Organization, 2019, p. 6)
  • If your reference list includes multiple works by one author in the same year, the sources get lettered in the in-text citations in the same order they appear on the reference list.
    • Ex: (Smith, 2020a, p. 23)
  • If there are multiple works to be cited at once, they are separated by a semicolon.
    • Ex: (Smith, 2020, p. 34; Jones, 2018, p. 14)
  • If there are multiple publications by the same author, list both years in the citation and separate them by a semicolon.
    • Ex: (Smith, 2017; 2020, p. 43)
  • If there is no date, simply write “no date” in the citation.
    • Ex: (Smith, no date, p. 213)

Reference List

As with most formatting styles, the most difficult aspect is creating your reference list. Here, every source cited and referenced through your paper must be listed in a way that allows readers to easily find the source for themselves. Reference lists can be very particular, and Harvard Style is no different; therefore, special attention should be paid to spacing and punctuation. The reference list should begin on a new page at the end of your document and follow these rules/guidelines:

  • List should be created in alphabetical order by author’s last name
  • First names of authors are replaced by initials
  • List should be double-spaced
  • All titles of books, journals, encyclopedias, etc., should be italicized
  • Unlike with other formatting guidelines, there is no requirement for use of hanging indents in your citations

While other citation guides have an over-arching format for reference list content, Harvard style varies from source to source. Below are the guidelines for the most popular sources:

  • Book Citations
    • Authored Book
      • Last name, Initials. (Year) Edition. Place of pub: Publisher.
    • Edited Book
      • Editor last name(s), initial(s). (eds.) (Year) Title. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher.
    • E-Book
      • Author last name(s), initial(s). (Year) Title. Edition. E-book format [e-book reader]. Available at URL or DOI (Accessed: day month year).
    • Journal citations
      • Print article
        • Author last name(s), initial(s). (year) ‘Title of article’, Title, volume(issues/season etc), page numbers.
      • Online article
        • Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of article’, Title of journal, volume(issue/season) [online]. Available at: URL or DOI (Accessed: day month year)
    • Newspaper
      • Print article
        • Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year) ‘Article Title’, Newspaper Title (edition), day month, page number(s).
      • Online article
        • Author surname(s), initial(s). (Year) ‘Article Title’, Newspaper Title (edition), day month [online]. Available at URL or DOI (Accessed: day month year).


The above guidelines are only the beginning to understanding Harvard style and the other formatting guidelines that are used in scholarly publishing. Due to the challenges of formatting manuscripts in Harvard style, and to assist scholars in easily implementing and following publisher guidelines, eContent Pro (eCPro) offers affordable, high-quality Copy Editing & Proofreading services. Our team of professional, native-English-speaking editors have helped thousands of authors correct any faulty spelling, grammar, punctuation, flow, and much more in addition to formatting their documents to adhere to AMA, Harvard, APA, MLA, Chicago style, and others. Avoid unnecessary surcharges and/or conditional acceptances from standard and Open Access publishers by submitting professionally copy-edited work with a certification from a professional.

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At eContent Pro (eCPro), we take pride in providing top-notch editorial services that are tailored to meet the needs of our clients. With over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, we have earned a reputation for delivering high-quality work that is error-free and polished to perfection at the quickest turnaround time.

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In addition, we use Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature to perform edits, allowing you to easily review and manage the changes made to your document. We also follow various style guides, including APA 7th edition, MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and more, to ensure that your document adheres to the standards set by your academic institution or publisher.

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