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The Coventry University Guide to Referencing in Harvard Style: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

This section give answers to common queries about in-text citations and the List of References.

You can also find advice in our further support section.

FAQs: in-text citations

  • What should I do if I cannot find the date on a website?

For the purpose of accuracy, if you cannot find the date, it is best to write ‘n.d.’, which means ‘no date’. For example:

Students are gaining increasingly high grades (National Student Forum n.d.).

  • What should I do if I cannot find the author of a source?

If no individual author name/s is/are provided, check carefully if you can identify a corporate author (an organisation, governmental department etc.) and use this instead (e.g. NHS, UK Government etc.).  If neither individual nor corporate authors are provided, for online sources you should use the name of the website (e.g. The Guardian, MSN News etc.).

If all this fails, you still have two options:

Option 1: If the source is anonymous, you can write ‘Anon.’ instead of the author. For example:

At the turn of the twentieth century, research in biology was influenced by scientific positivism (Anon. 1900).


Option 2: You can also give the title of the document instead of the author. For example:

In this leaflet, Crickhowell is described as a 'fair tax town' ('Fair Tax Town' 2016).

  • Can I cite more than one source in the same sentence?

Cite more than one author in the same sentence if they deal with the same topic or make similar points or use similar methods or evidence. List the sources in alphabetical order and separate each one with a comma. For example:

Health informatics will radically change the nature of the National Health Service by the year 2010 (Brown 2002: 3, Lee 2006: 44 and Padda 2005: 14).

  • How do I cite a single source with multiple authors?

Option 1: For up to three authors, give all the authors’ surnames in your in-text citation. For example:

Cox, Patel, and Pavliotis (2004) discuss Britain’s future adoption of the euro.


Option 2: However, if there are more than three authors, use ‘et al.’ For example:

Fletcher et al. (2006: 88) suggest that in this century global climate change has caused billions of dollars worth of damage.


N.B. 'Et al.' is short for ‘et alii’ meaning ‘and others’ in Latin. Note that there is a full stop after ‘al.’ because it is an abbreviation (a shortened form of the original word). Remember that although only one surname is given, you are referring to multiple authors, so the next verb in your sentence must agree in the plural rather than the singular.

  • How do I cite two authors who have the same surname?

If two or more of your cited authors have the same surname, include their initial to differentiate them. For example:

The circulation of capital is essential to the development of cities (Harvey, D. 1987).

  • Does the full stop go before or after in-text citations?

Even when quoting, do not use a full stop until AFTER your in-text citation in brackets because the in-text citation is part of your sentence. For example:

Anderson posits that vitamin E has ‘life-changing effects’ (2006: 8).

  • When should I use italics?

Put the title of a print publication in Italics (do not use bold or underline). The titles of all the main documents must be italicised, such as titles of books, titles of journals, titles of websites, etc. so that readers can see at a glance which physical sources you have cited.


Dickens wrote many novels, but Hard Times (Jones 2004: 16) is the most interesting from a philosophical perspective.


Put foreign words in italics except for Latin/Greek words and abbreviations that are part of writing and citation conventions, such as e.g., etc., et al., ibid.


Do not use italics for the title of journal articles or book chapters. Instead, use single quotation marks. The title of any sub-document or sub-section of a main document, such as the article or chapter that sits within a publication, must sit within single quotation marks.


Peterson’s recent article on oncology entitled ‘Meningioma Detection’ (2006) makes a real contribution to cancer research.


Do not write quotes in italics.

  • When should I include page numbers?

If page numbers are provided in the original source, include a page number or page range in your in-text citation whenever you make reference to information that can be retrieved on a specific page (or a limited number of pages). This enables readers to locate the exact passage you have cited for their own use, or to check that you have quoted, re-phrased or summarised the source accurately. For example:

Crude oil price rises have been ‘alarming’ (Brown 2006: 5).

FAQs: List of References

  • What should I do if I list more than one source by the same author?

If you list different sources by the same author, put them in reverse chronological order with the most recent first.

If you list sources by the same author which are produced in the same year, label them as a and b, etc.

For example:

Patel, J. (2005) Education and Individuality: Teaching and Learning in the Contemporary Climate. Manchester: Manchester University Press
Patel, J. (2002a) Signification and Psychology in Education: A Case Study of Theory in Practice. London: Routledge​
Patel, J. (2002b) Learning Styles and Reflective Practice: The Pedagogy of Individualised Instruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • How do I find the date in a book?

The three places to look for information are: the front cover, inside cover and the title page. If many dates of publication are given, you should usually use the copyright one (e.g. ©2001) because the other dates are just reprints. However, if the book has been revised and you consulted the revised, 2nd or 3rd edition etc., you must record that it is a revised edition, because the content and page numbers may be different from the original. See below for detailed guidelines.

  • How should I reference a second, third etc. or revised edition?

Give the author’s surname and initials, the date of the edition you are using in brackets, the title in italics followed by a full stop and then write ‘2nd edn.’, ‘3rd edn.’ or ‘rev. edn.’ as appropriate. Then write the place of publication followed by a colon, and finally the publisher. Fo example:

Dudley, P. R. (2001) Wavelets in Computing: An Efficient Means of Conducting Research. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • How do I find the place of publication in a book?

You can find the place of publication either on the title page of a book or the inside cover of the book (the copyright page). If more than one place is given, reference only the first place.

N.B. The place comes before the publisher in your reference.

  • Where should I put an editor or the editors?

If there is only one editor, give the editor’s name and write ‘ed.’ in brackets. If there are two or more editors, give their surnames followed by a comma and their initials in the order they are listed in the book and write ‘eds.’ in brackets. Then give the date in brackets and the title in italics followed by a full stop. Finally, give the place of publication followed by a colon then the publisher. For example:

Edwards, J. P. (ed.) (2006) Translation Theory Since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • What do I do if I have both an editor and an author?

If a source has both an author and an editor (which is more rare), give the author’s surname and initials as usual and the date in brackets, followed by the title in italics then a full stop, then write ‘ed. by’ and give the editor’s surname and initials. Finally, give the place of publication followed by a colon then the publisher. For example:

Dickinson, E. (1999) The Poems of Emily Dickinson. ed. by Franklin, R. W. Cambridge: Belknap Press

  • Where should I put a translator?

Option 1: If there is also an author, the surname and initials of the translator go after the title preceded by ‘trans. by’. For example:

Bharvagva, S. A. (2006) The Art of Translation and the Translation of Art. trans. by Burrows, M. K. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Option 2: If the author is also the translator, enter the author as normal and also give the translator after the title. For example:

Colorado, J. A. (2006) Economic Theory in the Mexican Context: Recent Developments on the Ground. trans. by Colorado. J. A. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • What should I do if I cannot find an author in a printed source? 

If the source is anonymous, you can write ‘Anon.’ instead of the author. For example:

Anon. (1900) Analytical Research in the Biological Sciences. London: Peterson Press

  • Where should I write the volume of the book?

If the book comes in multiple volumes, write the volume number after the title of the book. For example:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (2003) Encyclopaedia Britannica. vol. 10. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.

  • How should I reference a book written in a foreign language?

Reference it as any other book in English but give the official or personal translation of the title in square brackets after the original title. For example:

Camus, A. (1942) Le mythe de Sisyphe [The Myth of Sisyphus]. Paris: Gallimard

  • What is the difference between the List of References and a Bibliography?

A List of References gives full information for sources you have cited in the main body of your document. A Bibliography is a list of all the sources you have read, including both those you have cited and those you have not cited in the main body of your document . Bibliographies are not normally used in the CU Harvard Reference Style, but your module tutor/editor etc. may ask you to include one.

N.B. Despite the difference highlighted above, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Please check with your module tutor or editor (as appropriate) if you are not sure about the requirements for a specific piece of writing.

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