A referencing system refers to the typographic system used to embed references into texts external to the one being read. Any one journal consistently uses the same referencing system and often a single system, or variations on it, is used across different publications in an academic discipline. Alignment to a particular system of reference establishes a standardised technical means for encoding the inter-textual support for the arguments constructed by academics.
Systems of reference can be put into two camps: author-date system, such as Harvard and APA (American Psychological Association), also called ‘in line’ or ‘parenthetical’ systems; and numerical systems, essentially using footnotes or endnotes, MLA (Modern Language Assocation), MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association), OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for the citation of Legal Authorities) and Vancouver[i]. We will briefly cover how these systems are typographically set out in text and references lists/bibliographies. However, as every system can vary with each house style we will not go into a lot of detail; instead, always refer to the house style, library webpages, or your departmental handbook.
Author-Date Systems (Harvard, APA)
Harvard and APA are in line or parenthetical systems. That means that they put a note of the author’s name and the date of the publication in the line of the sentence, but enclosed in round brackets. This parenthetical, in text citation corresponds to an entry on an alphabetically ordered reference list at the end of the document. Therefore, the author’s name of a supporting reference must appear either in the text or in parenthetical brackets. The date must always be in the brackets. For example, the same supporting reference can be combined with your prose in a number of ways:
Smith and Jones (2010) have asserted…
It has been asserted (Smith and Jones, 2010) that…
From the point of view of the logic of the referencing system, whatever is in parenthesis must correspond with an entry in the reference list. As such, a one could refer metonymically to a theory or a book title in the run of prose, giving a varied style, but whatever is in parenthesis follows a strict, unwavering format.
The Selfish Gene (Dawkins, 1976) synthesised a body of evolutionary research into an original thesis.
Richard Dawkins (1976) gave an original synthesis to existing research.
The date of publication immediately follows the author’s name in the second example so that the reader can easily deduce which date and author’s name go together.
Harvard and APA look very similar and differ in only a few respects, for example Harvard would typically shorten to first author plus et al for three or more authors; whereas APA will list the first six authors in the text but a seven authored research paper would be shorted to first author plus et al. In that regard, here is how the two systems would handle the same reference:
Rosie et al (2004) have discussed…
Harvard Reference List:
Rosie, M., MacInnes, J., Petersoo, P., Condon, S. and Kennedy, J. (2004), ‘Nation speaking unto nation? Newspapers and national identity in the devolved UK’, Sociological Review, 52(4): pp.437–58.
Rosie, MacInnes, Petersoo, Condon, and Kennedy (2004) have discussed…
APA Reference List:
Rosie, M., MacInnes, J., Petersoo, P., Condon, S. and Kennedy, J. (2004). ‘Nation speaking unto nation? Newspapers and national identity in the devolved UK’, Sociological Review, 52(4): 437–58.
The only noticeable differences are the number of authors which must be stated in the text and, in the example of journal articles, APA italicises both the journal’s name and its volume number, while Harvard would only italicises the journal’s name. The general principle uniting these two parenthetical systems is that the reference is summarised as the name of the authors, plus a corresponding date and where appropriate a page span. This information is available to the reader in the line of the sentence, with this the date and page span always enclosed in parenthesis. If the authors name is included in the sentence and not parenthesis then the bracketed date and page numbers should be clearly linked to the author’s names, either coming immediately after their names or a quote attributed to them.
Smith and Jones assert that ‘blah, blah, blah’ (1984: 128).
Smith and Jones (1984: 128) assert that ‘blah, blah, blah’.
Therefore, both these formulations are acceptable. Each reference in parenthesis must have a corresponding entry into an alphabetical reference list at the end of text.
One final note on in-line referencing systems: it is not the case that just because such a system is being used that footnotes are out of the question. However, most academic publishers encourage writers when using Harvard not to use too many footnotes as well. This is partly to do with the complexities and financial implications of setting the type for press but it is also partly because in-line systems encourage writers to handle their references in a different manner, moving away from parenthetical comment to having only the relevant information in the text. That said a modified form of Harvard is not unusual to see. A writer must just be careful about consistency in their referencing as the footnote suggests an alternative way to handle references. That being said, there is a system which does combine both in text citations and footnotes, MLA, and we will discuss it in the next section.
Numerical Systems (MLA, MHRA, OSCOLA, Vancouver)
Earlier footnote systems did not follow the logic of a numerical system; instead symbols such as the dagger were used[ii]. Modern day footnotes and endnotes are numerical with the first reference starting at one and ascending thereafter. Numbers in the text correspond with numbers either at the bottom of the page or the end of the text. The main characteristics and differences are covered here.
MLA[iii] is a system used by some humanities subjects. As already indicated, it is a synthesis between an in-text and footnote system. The main supporting references, i.e. those supporting statements being made within the run of the writer’s texts, go in parenthesis. In this respect MLA is like Harvard or APA but the citation in brackets is marked differently. The author’s name is important in this system and can written in full or just as the surname in the text, so instead of ‘Smith highlight the limitations of the current models (39)’ one could also write ‘John Smith highlight the limitations of the current models (39)’. The 39 refers to the page number and note that the date of publication is not given. If making no reference to an author’s name in the run of the text then the same point and supporting reference could be written as:
The limitations of our current models has already been highlight (Smith 39)
If the reference is not to a specific page or page span and the author’s name is used in the run of the text then the reference could look like:
Smith (On The Limitations of Our Current Models) has discussed the shortcomings of the discipline’s present models.
All references in the text correspond to an alphabetically ordered ‘Cited Works List’ at the end of the text. Additional sources not being used at citations but which you wish to draw attention to can be indicated by the use of either superscript numerical footnotes or endnotes. The most recent edition of the MLA style guide is:
MLA handbook for writers of research papers (7th edition). New York: Modern Languages Association of America, 2009.
Here is an example of how a reference would appear in the text and then recorded in the Cited Works List.
Smyth (The Growth of Humanity) attempted to express poetry’s, and the arts more generally, effect on the increased democratisation it the eighteenth century British political system.
Works Cited List:
Smyth, Jonathan. The Growth of Humanity: Poetry and the Democratisation of British Politics of the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge: Wordsworth Press, 1997.
The author’s name is stressed in the text; correspondingly, in the Works Cited List, the author’s name is surname then forename, followed by the full title of the work, in this case an academic monograph, then the place of publication, the publisher, and finally the year of publication.
Equally, this could have be rephrased as,
It has been argued that poetry and the arts had an effect on the increased democratisation it the British political system of the eighteen century (Smyth)
The Growth of Humanity suggested poetry and the arts more generally had an effect on the increase democratisation it the eighteenth century British political system (Smyth).
In both cases the citations in the Works Cited List would be the same. Note in the second example Smyth’s work is paraphrased, whilst in the third example it is referred to metonymically as the name of the monograph. As in the first example Smyth’s name appears in the line of the text it is the name of the work which appears in parenthesis. In the second and third examples, as the author’s name has not be stated in the line of the text then it must be included in the brackets. Therefore, the reader of MLA can always identify the author and the texted referred to.
Sometimes a citation will not refer to a whole book or journal paper but rather only a portion of it, in which case the page span must be given.
Reading Da Vinci in this way Brown (23-34) recommends a more literal interpretation of what was previously considered allegory.
Cited Works List:
Brown, Danielle. Rereading the Masters: Signs and Codes in the Renaissance Oil Painting. Rossyln: Magdalene Press.
Only a few pages of the cited book refer to Da Vinci in this fictitious reference so they are given in the page span. This of course could also be rephrased as:
Reading Da Vinci in this way a more literal interpretation of what was previously considered allegory has been recommended (Brown 23-34).
There is no need for a comma between the author’s name and the page span; also there is no need for p. or pp. to be used to indicate the page span.
In addition to books you may also want to cite journal articles and electronic journal articles, chapters and sections in books, and websites. Here is how to format each in the Cited Works List.
Smith, John. “Stuff About Things.” The Intellectual Opus. Ed. Edward Ego. Oxford: Genius Press, 2008, 42-77.
After the author’s name and the chapter title, which appears in double-quotation marks, the editor is indicated, then the place of publication, date and finally the pages span.
Doe, Jane. “Romans, Roads and Rule Books: Roman Infrastructure and Its Role in Pacifying Brittan.” Journal of Roman Archaeology 57 (1987): 211-225.
Like with the book chapter, the article title goes in double-quotation marks, followed by the journal title in italics, then the volume number (and issue if applicable) of the journal, followed by the date and then the pagination.
Electronic Journal Article:
Lee, B. “The Toa of Shakespearian Theatre: The Popularity of Hamlet in Beijing Theatre Schools.” Electronic Journal of Eastern Performing Arts 11.4 (2012): 9-23.Web. 2 December 2009.
Electronic journal citation is very similar to its paper counterpart, the difference being the web as a source is acknowledges, as is the date the article was accessed.
MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) Style:
Numbers in brackets, square or round, are used in place of the citation information which goes inside parenthesis in an in-line referencing system. Numbers correspond to footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography at the end of the work. As it uses a bibliography sources not referred to but which you have used are to be listed as well.
The advantage of the this system is that it is easier on the eye , keeping citation information out of the main text as well as enabling the writer to draw attention to additional information or make a relevant but parenthetical comment. There are few practices worth noting, which differ from other referencing systems thus far. For example the first time a source is referred to the longer citation is given, for example:
The pragmatist’s perspective is one which sees utility as primary over essences (1).
Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, pp. 44-66.
Rorty, Richard, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
In the text only the number is brackets is used; in the footnote the author’s first name and surname is followed by the text’s title in italics followed by the page span if necessary; while, in the bibliographical listing of the citation, the author’s name is recorded as surname then forename, followed by the full text title in italics, and finally in round brackets the place of publication, the publisher and the date of publication. In the footnote and bibliography the first letter of all verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs should be capitalised. Also capitalise articles (the, in, a etc…) if they are at the start of a sentence or the first word after a colon in the subtitle.
When referring to a website give the fully URL within < >, as in <.http:www.google.com>, followed by the date the site was accessed, as in [accessed 17 May 2012]. Page spans are given for books, using p. for a single page and pp. for more than one page. It is not necessary to give page spans for journal articles.
Abbreviated Latin terms, such as ibid and op. cit. are used in MHRA. Ibid is short for ibidem meaning ‘in the same place; while op. cit. is short for opera citato, meaning ‘in the work cited’. Ibid. is used when two or more consecutive references refer to the same source; rather than writing the full citation out in the footnote or endnote again one writes ibid. plus a page number (if referring to a book). Op. cit. is used to refer to a previously cited work but not the previous one, therefore it should always be accompanied by the author’s last name and possibly the date, so that the reader can refer to the bibliography.
Here is how to format different types of sources in the bibliography.
Bright, Stuart, ‘Killing in the Name of the King: Justification of Royalist Atrocities in the English Civil War’, British Historical Review, 33.2 (1992), 222-241.
In journal articles the order is, therefore, author surname, forename, article title in quotation marks, journal title italicised followed by the volume and issue number, the year of publication and finally the pages span.
Electronic Journal Articles:
Entwhistle, Tobias, ‘Modernist Sculpture and the Colonisation of Urban Space’, Digital Review of Urban Art, 12.1 (2013), 33-45. <http://www.drua.ac.uk/volume12/3214> [accessed 5 April 2013].
Electronic journal article are much the same as their paper equivalents, with the addition of the URL inside < > and the date accessed within square brackets.
Chapter or Section of an Edited Book:
Cooper, William, ‘Stitching It Together: The Development of Book Construction in Oxford between 1630-1680’. In The History of the Book in England, ed. By John Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp.62-101.
OSCOLA refer them to a comprehensive source. Meredith, S. and Endicott, T. (2006) Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities. http://denning.law.ox.ac.uk/published/oscola_2006.pdfVancouver endnotes form the reference list at the end of the document, and additional bibliography can be added for texts used for the preparation of the text but not referred to. Conventionalised abbreviations are used for well know scholarly journals.
Works Cited List
[i] For a discussion of the pros and cons of different referencing systems see James Hartley, ‘On Choosing Typographic Settings for Reference Lists’, Social Studies of Science, 32.5-6 (2002), 917-932.
[ii] See Chuck Zerby The Devil’s Details: A History of Footnotes (New York: Touchstone, 2003).
[iii] See the MLA website for a complete copy of this style guide http://www.mla.org/style .