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Citing references

Guidance on citing references for students at the University of Reading

Styles of referencing

Particular referencing styles are preferred by particular academic disciplines because they work better with the kind of texts that are most commonly used in that discipline. This page includes brief details of each style of referencing used by different departments at Reading. You should always check your course handbook to see which is their preferred style. Remember that if you are studying modules in different departments or schools, they may each prefer a different referencing style.

Find out which style is used in your Department:

Watch this brief video tutorial on Which referencing style should I use? 

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Which referencing style should I use? video on YuJa (University username and password required)

AMS (American Meteorological Society)

The Department of Meteorology recommends using the AMS style for citations. See your student handbook for more detailed guidance.

Note that AMS style requires that journal names are abbreviated. The following is a source of suitable abbreviations: 

APA (American Psychological Association)

APA referencing is a variant on Harvard style. Many of the conventions are the same, with brief author-date citations in brackets in the body of the text and full citations in the reference list. It is usual to include a reference list only rather than a bibliography in APA style. Citations for websites are also slightly different, with no need to include an access or retrieval date unless the page content is likely to change over time.

Sources for more information

7th edition guidance

A new version of the APA style was published in 2019. Departments will gradually switch to this version - check your course handbook.

APA 7th edition differs significantly from APA 6th edition and other Harvard styles in that the place of publication is usually omitted from the reference. 

6th edition guidance


Chicago style referencing offers two options for citations: 

Notes and bibliography: a numbered style, where a number in the text corresponds to a footnote or endnote containing the full reference, (as in Oxford referencing.) A bibliography lists all referenced sources, plus anything you read but didn't reference.


Author-date references: brief author-date citations are inserted in parentheses in the body of the text, (as in Harvard referencing.) A corresponding reference list which only includes sources you have cited in your text.


So if you are asked to use Chicago style referencing, it is especially important to check which format your department wants you to use - notes and bibliography or author-date. You should be able to find more information in your course or module handbook. If you cannot find anything there, do ask your course tutor.

Sources for more information


Also known as 'author-date' style. In Harvard style the in-text citation can be in brackets in the body of the text or in footnotes, and uses the author's surname and the date of publication, with the page number if it is a reference to a particular page. Full details are only listed in the bibliography or reference list.

Note that because Harvard is a 'style' rather than a system or set of rules, the preferred punctuation and formatting of the text may differ and your School/Department might have their own preferred version. Check your course handbook or the information in your subject guide for details of any local variations:

Sources for more information


The MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) style usually uses numbers in the text which are linked to footnotes or endnotes (this is the version used by English Literature). Alternatively name-year in-text citations may be used (as used by Film, Theatre and Television). The full bibliography is in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author.

Sources for more information


OSCOLA stands for Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities. It is preferred by the School of Law at Reading, as it has rules for dealing with the kind of sources that law students will frequently use, including cases, statutes and command papers. In-text citations are placed in footnotes, with a formal set of abbreviations for key sources, e.g. AC for Appeal Cases. Punctuation is kept at a minimum, and there are specific rules for dealing with subsequent mentions.

If you are studying Law, you will be given guidelines on how the School expects you to use OSCOLA, and it is important to follow these.


Sources for more information


In Oxford referencing, in-text citations are in footnotes. Full details should be included in the footnotes for the first mention of a text. After this, a shortened version can be used.

Sources for more information:


In Vancouver referencing, which is a numeric referencing style, each source is given a number which corresponds to the order in which it appears in the text. If the same source is referred to again in the text, the same number is used. The reference list comprises a single numbered list of citations with full details. You may also include a separate bibliography, alphabetically ordered by author, which lists works that you have used as part of your research for your assignment but not cited in the text.

Sources for more information