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It is important to understand how to correctly reference and we are here to support you. How you reference will depend on which department you are in. At Warwick there is no official referencing style so it is important to ensure you follow the relevant style for your department. Contact your tutor or department for more information.

From reading academic articles and books, you should be familiar with the scholarly practice of making references in the text to other people’s work and providing listings of relevant source material at the end of the text.

Why is this done? And why should you adopt this approach in your own work?

There are several reasons:

  • To enable someone reading the document to find the material you have referred to or consulted
  • To demonstrate your breadth of reading and knowledge about a subject
  • To support and/or develop points made in the text
  • To avoid accusations of plagiarism: using somebody else’s work without acknowledging the fact is plagiarism. It is important to always reference when direct quoting or paraphrasing another person’s work

Citation: this is any reference made in the text to a source of information. This can be in the form of a direct quotation, summarising or paraphrasing.

References list: an organised listing of the works cited in the text, placed at the end of the document. This is what most tutors are expecting you to produce.

Bibliography: this is an extended reference list. It lists all the works cited in the text plus any other sources that you have read but not included in the final document. You need to be very careful that you do not inadvertently refer to the sources that you have read but not cited directly in the text as this can be interpreted as plagiarism. Departments that may ask for a bibliography include the Law School, Humanities, Social Sciences and more.

Referencing or citation style: refers to the way in which your references are presented within your document and in your bibliography/reference list. Most will fall into the following categories:

  • Author-date: In-text citations are indicated by the author surname (and often date of publication) in brackets. The reference list at the end of the document is ordered alphabetically by author surname. These include Harvard and MLA. An example of an MLA style reference is:
    • Jarvis, Peter. Globalisation, Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society: Sociological Perspectives. Routledge, 2007
  • Numeric: In-text citations are indicated by consecutive numbers (usually in brackets or superscript). The reference list at the end of the document is ordered numerically to correspond with this. These include Vancouver and Nature. An example of a Vancouver style reference is:
    • 1. Jarvis P. Globalisation, lifelong learning and the learning society: sociological perspectives. London: Routledge; 2007
  • Footnotes: In-text citations are indicated by superscript numbers which correspond with footnotes at the bottom of each page. The bibliography at the end of the document is usually ordered alphabetically by author surname. These include Chicago, Oxford and MHRA. An example of an MHRA style reference is:
    • Peter Jarvis, Globalisation, Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society: Sociological Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2007), pp. xii, 238

It is therefore important that you are clear what your department, tutor or publisher requires you to do. For more in-depth guidance, see referencing styles or for further tutorials, see our Library Online Courses: Avoiding Plagiarism and Introduction to Referencing.

In principle, most references will at least include the following elements:

Author Date Title Publication
Who wrote or created it? This might be an author, journalist, artist or institution When was it published, put online or released? What is it called? Where did you find it? This might be a journal issue, book or web address

NB – If referencing from a journal or article, standard practice includes page number. Make sure to check the relevant referencing style for your department.

  • Keep a careful record of the sources you use as you are doing your research, reading and notetaking. You may wish to:
    • Photocopy the inside pages of books you access
    • Keep a list or spreadsheet
    • Use a reference manager such as EndNote to help with this
  • Be consistent in the way you format your references. For example, if you choose to indicate page numbers with ‘pg.’, ensure you do so throughout
  • For some types of sources, particularly those online, you may not find a template to follow in your style guide. Adapting a template for a similar source will often suffice; the key is to include all the relevant details you can so that the source can be located by the reader and to be consistent
  • If you make direct references to your sources, or include a quotation, you will normally be expected to include a page reference. Make sure you always note these as you go along
  • Check which style(s) your department or supervisor is happy for you to use before you proceed

Further guidance



For help with referencing, you can contact your Academic Support Librarian, subject specialist support for all your information needs, email us at: academicsupport at warwick dot ac dot uk. Alternatively you can ask your supervisor or tutor for help.