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Referencing and Citation Styles  

Last Updated: Jun 5, 2016 URL: http://libguides.library.usyd.edu.au/citation Print Guide RSS Updates

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Referencing Styles

What is Referencing?


Referencing is an essential part of academic writing. Its purpose is to acknowledge the original source of ideas and work that is not the author's own, and to point the reader to the original documents so that they can determine independently whether the attributed sources support the author’s argument as written.

Referencing generally has two key elements;

  • An in-text marker that indicates to the reader that a particular concept, phrase or idea is attributable to someone else, and;
  • A complete reference list giving the full citation details for all sources referred to in the document.

The manner in which you are required to write the in-text citation and the reference list is determined by the Reference Style.

Reference Styles

There are two common systems for referencing;

Note systems


These involve the use of sequential numbers as in-text markers that refer to either footnotes or endnotes.

  • Footnotes:  these are notes included at the end of each page.
  • Endnotes: these are notes on a separate page at the end of a paper (not to be confused with EndNote, a bibliographic management program).

Common note systems include Chicago 16th A and MLA.

Parenthetical systems


Also known as Author-date or Harvard referencing, parenthetical referencing involves the use of a partial reference contained within parenthesis as in-text markers (such as the author and date). The complete reference is then included in a list on the last page of the document.

Common parenthetical systems include APA, Harvard, and Vancouver.


Welcome to the University of Sydney Library's guide to Referencing.

Use the tabs along the top or the links below to navigate to the page that covers the referencing style you require.

  • APA 6th
    Developed by the American Psychological Association, this style is one of the most popular referencing formats using the author-date system.
  • Harvard
    The Harvard referencing style is another popular style that employs the author-date system for in-text citations
  • Harvard-Flinders
    A variation on the Harvard Style created by Flinders University
  • Harvard 3
    A variation of the Harvard style.
  • Vancouver
    A numbered referencing style popular within the physical sciences and medicine.
  • Chicago 16th A
    This is a footnote and bibliography referencing system.
  • MLA
    MLA is a paranthetical referencing style popular in the Humanities.
  • AGLC
    AGLC is a legal referencing style

Introduction to Referencing

The following iResearch tutorial demonstrates how to reference and cite material using APA style as an example. This is a good introduction to the various elements of referencing and citing in academic literature.


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