Referencing and bibliographies
What is referencing?
Referencing is a vital part of the academic writing process as it allows you to:
- Acknowledge the contribution that other authors have made to the development of your arguments and concepts
- Inform your readers of the sources of quotations, theories, datasets etc that you have referred to and enable them to find the sources quickly and easily themselves
- Demonstrate that you have understood particular concepts put forward by other writers while developing your own ideas
- Provide evidence of the depth and breadth of your own reading on a subject
- Avoid charges of plagiarism
When to reference
Whenever you quote, paraphrase or make use of another person’s work in your own writing, you must indicate this in the body of your work (a citation) and provide full details of the source in a reference list (all the sources you have referred to directly in your work) or a bibliography (all the sources you have read in the course of your research, not just those you have cited).
Your reference list should include details of all the books, journal articles, websites and any other material you have used.
You do not need to reference:
- Your own ideas and observations
- Information regarded as ‘common knowledge’
- Your conclusions (where you are pulling together ideas already discussed and cited in the main body of your work)
Understanding when to cite references is an important part of your academic progression.
The University of Leeds Introduction to Referencing tutorial gives an excellent overview of this subject.
How to reference
The way that you cite references will depend on the referencing style you are using. There are many different referencing styles and you must ensure that you are following the appropriate style when submitting your work.
Check with your supervisor to be sure that you are following the specific guidelines required by your School. Commonly used referencing styles at The University of Manchester include Harvard, APA, MHLA, MLA and Vancouver.
If you are submitting work for publication in books or journals, publishers’ websites will provide guidance on which referencing style you should follow.
Reference management software such as EndNote can help you in managing your references and formatting them correctly.
See Managing your references for more information.
The following guides and tutorials provide a useful introduction to the principles of referencing in various styles:
Guide to referencing styles
Harvard referencing guide (PDF, 266 KB)
Online referencing tutorials
The following tutorials provide a good introduction to the key principles of citing and referencing using some of the most common referencing styles.
Citing and referencing: Taking the frights out of your cites! [Flash] – five minute video produced by Cardiff University on the importance of getting your referencing right
Training and support
Help and support with referencing is available from the Library. Contact your Faculty Team Librarian for further information.
The Library holds multiple copies of the following guide to referencing:
Pears, R. & Shields, G. J. (2008) Cite them right : the essential referencing guide, Newcastle upon Tyne, Pear Tree Books.