Writing References: Other Systems

Academic Writing

Writing a list of references: Other Systems

There are many ways of writing a list of references – check with your department for specific information.

  • The most common system is called the Harvard system. There is no definitive version of the Harvard system and most universities and publishers have their own. But the one used here – the American Psychological Association (7th edition) style – is well known and often used (American Psychological Association, 1983, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2010, 2019). See APA Style for more information. See here for APA 6.
  • One variation is the MLA style. It is well known and often used in humanities. Click here or see Gibaldi (2003) and Modern Languages Association (1998, 2009, 2016) for this way.
  • Many scientists use a numerical system, often called the Vancouver style or BS 1629. Click here, see International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (1991), US National Library of Medicine or Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2nd edition)  for more information.
  • Another common system is that defined in the Chicago Manual of Style. In fact the Chicago Manual of Style presents two basic systems: (1) a numerical system and (2) an author-date system. Choosing between the two depends on your subject and institution. See here or University of Chicago Press (2010) or Chicago Manual of Style.

A good – although idiosyncratic –  overview can be found in Pears & Shields (2013).

References consist of 4 main elements:

  • Who – who produced the work? – a person, persons, or institution etc.
  • When  – when was it published? – year, or/and date etc.
  • What – what is the work called?
  • Where – where can the work be found? – by a publisher, in a journal, on a website etc
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