A referencing style is a set of rules which outline how to include references in your writing. These rules help us to communicate clearly, and to make sure that the work of other people is acknowledged appropriately.
There are many different referencing styles. You will need to check which style your Course or School requires you to use.
Some common referencing styles include:
- APA 6 (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association APA Style Guide to Electronic References)
- AGPS Harvard (Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers)
- MLA MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing)
- Vancouver (via US National Library of Medicine)
You can find guides to these styles in the Referencing Tool. Other guides will be provided by your Course Convenor or School.
One of the most important parts of referencing is understanding your referencing style, and how to use it. Each referencing style has specific formatting details, which you need to follow closely, so that your writing and referencing is easier to understand.
There are two parts to most referencing styles: the citations within the text and the reference list at the end of your work.
In-text citations provide brief information about the sources you have used so that readers can locate the resource in your list of references.
They acknowledge when you have used the words or ideas of someone else and support your work with evidence.
You need to include citations for direct quotations (when you are using someone’s exact words) and when you paraphrase their ideas into your own words.
Each referencing style uses a different format for in-text citations, so make sure you check your referencing style guide for more details.
A common in-text citation method for many referencing styles uses the authors’ family names and the date of publication. Another common method is to use a numbered style.
In-text citations may also require you to provide a page number to direct people to the specific location of the information.
Most referencing styles require you to provide a reference list or bibliography. A reference list provides the full details of the sources you have cited in the text of your work.
A bibliography is similar to a reference list, but it includes all sources you have used to create your work, not just the ones you have cited in the text.
It is important to check the style guide to find out how to format your reference list correctly. Each referencing style has specific requirements for what information is included in a reference, as well as punctuation and layout.
The details you need for each reference will depend on what type of resource you have (e.g. journal articles and books require slightly different information).