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Referencing and Citation Styles: Home

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.

Referencing Systems

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 reference management system).

Common note systems include Chicago 17th A and Vancouver.

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 MLA.

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Top Tips

Tip 1 - The best way to familiarise yourself with a referencing style is to study the published style manual. There are no shortcuts to referencing.  Referencing software can be helpful, but only if you know the style in detail to be able to spot errors.

Tip 2 - You can access a range of different style formatted references for all items found in our Library Search.  Simply look for the quotation marks in the tools to the right of an item in your search results and select your preferred style.  This can save you time or help with application of a particular style, but remember that as these references are auto generated you should always check them for accuracy.