How to refer to (cite) a work in your text

You are expected to acknowledge the books, journal articles and other sources of information that you use when preparing and completing your university work.

This is done by briefly referring to (citing) the sources of information in the text of your work, with a list of corresponding references at the end.

You can cite someone's work in a number of ways:

Refer to their work

When referring to another author's work, include their name and year in brackets.

Example: In a recent study (Handy, 1987) management is described as...

If you are quoting another author's work, you will need to include a page number. See quote an author's work.

Refer to the author by name

If the author's name occurs naturally in a sentence, the year is given in brackets with the name.

Example: defined by Mintzberg (1983)

Refer to two or three authors

If there are two or three authors all names should be given before the date.

Example: Gremlin and Jenking (1981)...
Example: In a recent study (Kudless, Oxman and Swackhamer, 2008)...

Refer to four or more authors

If there are four or more authors, only the surname of the first author should be given, followed by 'et al.' (in italics):

Example: Kotler et al. (1987)

Remember to list all the authors of the work in your reference list or bibliography. However, on the rare occasions where there are more than nine authors, you need only list the first followed by et al.

Refer to multiple works at the same time

If you need to cite more than one source at the same time, list the sources, separated by a semi colon, citing the most recent reference first.

Example: (Hawkes, 2012; Butters, 2011)

Refer to multiple works of an author published in the same year

If you need to refer to more than one source at the same time where the author and date are the same, use lower case letters, in alphabetical order, following the year of publication:

Example: Jones (2012a) provides a useful overview of evidence based practice. This has been further refined in her latest book (Jones, 2012b) which considers the practice in an international context.

In this case, the reference list at the end of your work would look as follows:

Reference list example:
Jones, P. (2012a) Evidence Based Medicine. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Jones, P. (2012b) International Evidence Based Medicine. Bristol: Redcliffe Press.

Refer to multiple works of an author published in different years

Note the most recent first in both the citation and the reference list.

Refer to a work without a given author

If there is no author given, use 'Anon.'.

Example: Anon. (1967)

Refer to a work you haven't read that has been referred to in another work that you have read (secondary referencing)

You may wish to cite a work you haven't read that has been referred to in another work that you have read.

In this case you should cite the primary source (the unread work) and the secondary source (the read work) in your text. 

However, in your reference list/bibliography, you should just reference the secondary source.

Example: Rowley (1991) cites the work of Melack and Thompson (1971), who developed the McGill Archaeology questionnaire.
Example: Melack and Thompson (1971, cited by Rowley 1991) developed the McGill Archaeology questionnaire.
Example: Rowley (1991, citing Melack and Thompson 1971) refers to the McGill Archaeology questionnaire.

In these examples, the list of references would only contain the work by Rowley.

Recommendation: secondary referencing should be avoided if at all possible. The author may be citing the original reference because of their own interpretation of its relevance, possibly in quite a different context. We recommend you read the original source for yourself to ensure its relevance to your particular context.

Face-to-face support

Download a quick guide to UWE Bristol Harvard referencing

Study skills events

See more Study skills events

Back to top