Referencing Guides

When you produce a piece of academic writing such as an assignment, a dissertation, thesis, or journal article, you draw information from a wide range of sources.

This strengthens your argument and provides evidence for the points you want to make. Your sources must be acknowledged by citing them in the text and listing them in a list of references at the end of your work. Acknowledging the work of others in your writing is good academic practice because it shows the breadth of your research, allows the reader to consult your sources and verify your data, and helps to avoid plagiarism.

Referencing styles can vary depending on the discipline and the department here at Lancaster. You should consult your module handbook for guidance on any department-specific referencing requirements.

Referencing Styles

The header links below will show you how to reference resources including books, ebooks, journal articles and more in some of the different referencing styles used at Lancaster. They will show you how to cite each resource in the text of your work and in the reference list.

Please be aware that your department may be using a modified version of one of these referencing styles. Always consult your module handbook for any department-specific referencing requirements.


Harvard is an author-date referencing system and is used in a wide range of disciplines.

There is no definitive guide to Harvard style - the elements of a Harvard reference and their order are standard, but there are variations in punctuation and formatting. Click on the link above to find detailed guidance on the Lancaster University Library recommended formatting of Harvard.

There is an online guide created for Lancaster students: Harvard (Lancaster University Library)

You can also download a printable copy: Harvard (Lancaster University Library)

APA (6th)

APA is the referencing style of the American Psychological Association. APA is an author-date referencing system and is commonly used in Psychology.

The full publication manual of the 6th edition of the American Psychological Association is available from the Library. The 7th edition is due to be published at the end of October 2019.

There is an online guide for students at Lancaster: APA referencing guide You can also download a prinatble copy: Quick start referencing guide to using APA 6th edition.

For those new to APA style, the following online tutorial from the American Psychological Association may be of interest: The Basics of APA Style.

Chicago (16th)

Chicago is a running notes referencing system. It is commonly used in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Library subscribes to the comprehensive guide Chicago Manual of Style Online (available on-campus only). The complete Chicago Manual of Style is also available online.


Vancouver is an author-number referencing system and is commonly used in Medicine and the Sciences.

The author-number style most commonly used in Medicine is published by the US National Library of Medicine: see their comprehensive guide to the style Citing Medicine (the NLM author-number style is the citation style used by both MEDLINE and PubMed).

For Physical Science students you can download a Lancaster University Vancouver referencing quick guide

Other refererencing styles


OSCOLA is a guide to legal citation published by Oxford University, and is used by students studying Law.


MHRA is another style commonly used in the Humanities, developed by the Modern Humanities Research Association. The most recent version of the MHRA style guide is available from the Modern Humanities Research Association website.

Library Resources on Study and Research Skills

The Library holds a range of material on good academic practice including referencing. This Subject Guide on Study and Research Skills will provide a good starting point as to some of the titles available. Alternatively search OneSearch to explore our full collection of resources.