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.


  • Harvard

    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.

    There is an online guide created for Lancaster students: Harvard (Lancaster University Library), where you can also download a printable copy.

  • APA

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

    There are two editions of the Publication style currently in use – APA 6th and APA 7th They are different, so please check with your department which one you are expected to use.

    Full publication manuals for the 6th and 7th edition of the American Psychological Association are available from the Library, and there are examples of how to cite and reference different sources in LibAnswers FAQs.

    There is an online guide for students at Lancaster, and you can also download a printable copy: .

    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

    Chicago is a running notes referencing system. It is commonly used in the Humanities and Social Sciences. There are examples of how to cite and reference sources using Chicago referencing in LibAnswers FAQs. The Chicago Manual of Style Online has guidance on using the style and a citation quick guide with sample citations.

  • Vancouver

    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).

    There are examples of how to cite and reference sources using Vancouver referencing in LibAnswers FAQs. For Physical Science students you can download a Lancaster University Vancouver referencing quick guide

  • Other Referencing Styles


    OSCOLA is a guide to legal citation published by Oxford University, and is used by students studying Law. Oxford University Law faculty provide a number of support materials, available from their website.


    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.

    Royal Society of Chemistry

    The Royal Society of Chemistry have produced a guide which is designed to give you advice on how to format your bibliographic references, notes and footnotes using their house style.

Library resources in 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.

To find out more about the principles of referencing, and how to use reference management tools such as EndNote, have a look at the online tutorial below.