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Mastering Harvard Style Citation: A Comprehensive Guide

Harvard Citation Style: A Guide on Harvard Citation Essays

Academic writing is impossible without references and crediting to people whose work you used to get inspiration, so knowing how to implement Harvard style citations in your text will make it stand out among average content. Harvard style is one of the most popular and commonly used referencing styles for US students. 

A Harvard-style essay follows the author-date structure, with all citations inside the text featuring the author’s surname, publication date, and page number for direct quotations. Harvard-style essays should also have a reference list at the end of the paper, with the sources mentioned in alphabetical order. 

So, why is the Harvard citation style so important in academic writing? There are several reasons you need Harvard style citations present in your assignment:

  1. Provide clear information about the source. You will maintain your academic integrity if you use Harvard-style in-text citations to inform readers about the history of your research and the sources you have been using.
  2. Confirm your source credibility and support your arguments. Students are not allowed to generate ideas out of thin air when writing a Harvard style essay and creating a proper Harvard style citation, so providing a reference list at the end of your work will serve as proof that you have conducted in-depth research.
  3. Avoid plagiarized content and acknowledge the original author. Harvard-style referencing was created to help you give credit where credit is due and ensure your content is not borrowed from other scholars without their permission.

There are key elements of essays cited in the Harvard style that make the text an extraordinary piece of work in the realm of academic writing:

  • In-Text Citations: In-text citations are reserved for the body of your essay. Harvard style citations have to feature the author’s name and the year of publication of the source that you are referencing. A page number is also required for direct quotes.

Example: “The Suli believe that when we do wrong, we give life to our shadows. Every sin makes the shadow stronger until eventually, the shadow is stronger than you” (Bardugo, 2016, p. 280).

  • Full References: A full reference list in Harvard style is provided at the end of your paper and features full bibliographical details about the sources you used in the text. A reference list is given in alphabetical order. A reference list must only contain sources that have been used in the body of the text.

Example: Bardugo, L. (2016). Crooked Kingdom. Henry Holt and Company (BYR).

  • Inclusion of Details: Harvard citation style is characterized by the inclusion of details such as chapter titles or page numbers (mandatory if you are using a direct quote for referencing).
  • Clarity of Interpretation: To achieve maximum clarity and coherence as one of the key elements of a Harvard style essay and Harvard style citation, you should follow the same formatting for all of your quotes and in-text citations.

Harvard Style Essay Structure: Write a Coherent Harvard Essay

Title Page

It is not uncommon to struggle with your title in Harvard style while writing. It does not matter whether you are conducting extensive research on your argumentative essay or would like to complete a descriptive essay: you will be subjected to rigorous guidelines that include putting your title in the middle of the page. You should only use capital letters for your title in Harvard style. After you have written the title, type in your professor’s first and last name, your name, the name of the educational establishment that you are in, and the exact date. 


The abstract in Harvard style essay should be double-spaced and ideally should feature no more than 350 words and two advisor names for the correct academic tone. Based on the Harvard University rules and regulations on abstract writing, the key elements of the research should be highlighted with clear objectives and methodology used in the process. Occasionally, the students will be asked to produce an abstract in less complicated terms than the body of the essay to engage the audience. 

Table of Contents

The table of contents should be placed after the title page, and the headings, subheadings, and different sections should be enumerated. First-level headings should be a part of the numbered list. All titles should be left-aligned and appear as a numbered list. Harvard citation style demands subheadings, or second-level headings, to be presented in the form of bullet points for clarity. If you find it hard to capture the nuances of the table of contents for your Harvard essay, you can utilize the assistance of experts from writing services, such as the write my paper for me service, as you are busy looking for a proper way to structure your text.


Every time you decide to write an essay that features the Harvard citation style, you should think of your introductory paragraph as an opportunity to make an impression on your readers and present them with some food for thought. To attract the attention of a regular reader, make sure you do not use complicated terms and appeal to their emotions with the use of a funny quote or an exciting fact.

An introduction is followed by a thesis statement. Sometimes, your professor will expect you to underline a thesis statement for more emphasis. In a Harvard essay, a thesis statement is the main idea of your text. It provides claims that you need to confirm and a brief outline of what the body of the essay will inform you about.

Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay will feature facts and reasoning that support your thesis statement. In a text in Harvard style, the body of the essay is usually divided into blocks with centered headings and italicized headings for smaller sections. The opening sentence of the first body paragraph is referred to as the topic sentence. The topic sentence in Harvard style should provide an evidence-based analysis of the thesis statement and confirm it. The next sentence in the first body paragraph will feature the details that support your original statement. The details may include direct quotations, facts, figures, statistics, opinions, explanations, and theories that support the claim. The final sentence of the first body paragraph should provide a logical transition to the next paragraph.

To connect the two paragraphs, use transition words. The most common transition words for an essay in Harvard style are:

  • Equally important;
  • Finally;
  • Further;
  • Furthermore;
  • Moreover;
  • In addition; 
  • However;
  • Similarly;
  • Therefore;
  • Consequently. 

Harvard style citations must include the scholar’s name, the publication date, and the page number. The body paragraphs in your essay should be logically coherent to make your content more readable and comprehensible. Do not hesitate to include all your supporting theories, arguments, and findings in the body of the essay to give more weight to your initial statement.

Why do the writers need the Harvard referencing style utilized in each body paragraph on a consistent basis? Plagiarism plays a huge role in the definition of a Harvard style essay. If you have no desire to be accused of stealing someone else’s original findings, you should always restate other people’s thoughts and format these additions to your paper as in-text citations. In some cases, the author’s name is put at the end of the sentence to draw attention to the fact that the phrasing is not your own. 

Example: The most widespread tropes are often the most harmful, exposing us to negative propaganda and narratives that do not have any ethical value. (Knight, 2018, p. 216).

Harvard style essays should be double-spaced, with classic fonts like Times New Roman used to structure your paper. You are not allowed to use color fonts or complicated, intricate-looking fonts that will be hard to comprehend.


Harvard style requirements also clarify how you should approach the concluding paragraph. The summary should always start on a separate page, with margins set to one inch, Times New Roman or Arial, and double spacing used in your formatting. You should restate your thesis statement in the summary’s introductory sentence and avoid complicated terms that can create confusion. 

However, you cannot copy the statement from the first body paragraph. Instead, you have to reiterate your thoughts and emphasize the vital nature of your research. A concluding paragraph in Harvard essays uses a brief overview of the topic to help the audience memorize the most relevant essay details. If you are struggling with making your Harvard essay conclusion sound natural and thinking, “Can I pay someone to write my paper?” we recommend that you seek help from a reliable writing service to avoid low grades and too much stress. 

Reference List

When studying Harvard formatting guidelines, you should also pay special attention to the art of Harvard style referencing. You should always start your reference list on the next page and make sure that it has a list of sources mentioned in alphabetical order. The sources included in the reference list have to correlate with the in-text citations in your essay. According to the academic rules, you should use the first letter of the author’s last name to arrange your list of references. The publication title is written using lowercase letters, with the first word of the title written in capital letters. 

Below, you will see examples of Harvard style referencing for books, journals, and websites that you can use in essay writing:

  • Example (book): Thesman, J. (1998). The moonstones. New York: Viking.
  • Example (journal article): Burlinson, K. (2015) ‘Moonstones,’ Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 105 (2), p. 6.
  • Example (web page): Knight, R. (2021). Let’s talk about Kaz Brekker, assumptions, and disability in Shadow and Bone. (Accessed: 28 March 2024). 

Title Page: How Do You Format

When you have mastered a Harvard referencing style, you need to move on to the title. The full title of your Harvard essay should be placed halfway through the page. You cannot use abbreviations, redundant words, and slang as your title. Ideally, the classic Harvard formatting style does not allow more than 12 words for your title. You can only use capital letters for your title in Harvard style:


After you have skipped three lines from the full title, you need to enter the author’s name. After you have skipped four lines from the author’s name, enter the name of your class or university course, the name of your teacher (professor, tutor, lecturer), the name of your university, and the date (according to the Harvard University title page guide, some professors will demand that you include the day and month in your date, not just a year). 

Below, you will see the details that need to be included in your title page:

Anna Winter


Lee Mitchell

University of Wisconsin-Madison

April 5, 2024

Structuring the Abstract in Harvard Style Essay

An essay abstract in Harvard style is designed to deliver a brief overview of the paper's subject. The information presented in your abstract should be transparent, concise, and to the point to help the reader understand the direction of your research. Typically, an abstract in your Harvard paper should comprise different sections: the main objectives of your research work, the impact of your objectives on the scientific field you are working in, a brief conclusion of your findings with clear facts, and a final opinion reiterating your thoughts.

An abstract done in Harvard style has specific formatting guidelines that you need to adhere to - it should not be larger than 350 words, have double spacing, and have structured content that gives your reader an immediate idea of what your paper will be about. Your first and last name should be right-aligned on the abstract page, with the name of your professor written on the left side. It is important that the name of your professor (scholarly advisor) should be the same as the one written on the cover page.

How to Format the Table of Contents for a Harvard Essay

Although university guidelines for your paper in Harvard style may differ depending on the institution, as a general rule, the table of contents will come after the cover page and the abstract. The table of contents is the title you must put at the top of the page, with headings and subheadings following the title. The headings are left-aligned, with page numbers indicating where the new section starts.

A Harvard style guide implies that the headings should be arranged as a numbered list while the subheadings are placed under the main headings. The reference list is required to be put at the end of your table of contents, with the specific page number reserved for each heading. To make your Harvard essay paper comprehensible and consistent, adhere to the rules of content structuring and position the second-level and third-level headings under the main headings. When writing an essay, follow the same structural order as indicated in the table.


What is the difference between Harvard and APA style?

Harvard style citation is used in academic scientific writing, while APA is mainly used for social and psychological sciences. APA citations include the author’s name and the publication date as a part of the research paper, while Harvard style citation features the last name of the author and the publication date / publication title. 

How do I format in-text citations in Harvard style?

A Harvard style citation in text is formed with the use of quotation marks (if you are referencing a direct quote) and the author’s last name, the date of publication, and the page number. You should not use quotation marks if you are paraphrasing or mentioning the author’s name without quoting them directly.

What are the guidelines for the reference list in Harvard style?

Harvard citation style can be tricky, especially if you have no previous experience with its formatting guidelines. However, you would memorize a few simple facts well: the reference list should be placed at the end of your paper, with the authors listed in alphabetical order. The reference list should also include the book's title, the publisher's name, the date, and the page number.

How do I ensure consistency in my Harvard-style essay?

If you are using the Harvard citation style for your paper, you need to ensure that you include all your in-text citations in the body of the text, as well as create a reference list that gives credit to the authors you based your research on. You should also include any journal articles and web pages that you used.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing in Harvard style?

An essay with a Harvard style citation is not always easy to write, so it is not surprising that some common mistakes may occur. These include forgetting to put quotation marks when using a direct quote from the author, forgetting about page numbers when using an in-text citation, neglecting the principle of alphabetical order when making a reference list, and combining MLA style, Chicago style, and Harvard style in your essay even though there should be only one style throughout your paper.


Harvard-style essays are an essential part of academic writing that you are given in college, so you should never neglect the rules and regulations associated with this style. Harvard essays must feature two major components to make your paper look complete: in-text citations and a full reference list that provides sufficient credit to the authors. This way, you will avoid plagiarism when conducting research online. 

Although it is common to confuse the Harvard format with APA and MLA, Harvard uses specific guidelines and an author-date or author-title citation style for writing, with the author’s last name and publication included in your in-text citation for more clarity. Harvard style citations provide coherence and consistency, ensuring that your sources are properly referenced and that the readers have a clear picture of the authors you used as inspiration.

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