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Citing references

Guidance on citing references for students at the University of Reading

Writing citations: the principles

To produce a citation for any kind of material in any style, you will need four pieces of information:

- author/s and/or editor/s

- date of publication

- title

- publication details (e.g. edition, where published, who by, number of volumes)

Here are some examples of how those details might work for different kinds of source material.





Publication details


Cottrell, S.


Critical Thinking Skills

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Computer software



Dreamweaver 8


TV programme



The Challenge of the Sixties

BBC4. 15th May. 17:45.

A TV programme is made by a team, so the author is usually replaced by the name of the programme with no further title given. This is a series, so the series is the ‘author’ and the title is the particular programme.


Ordnance Survey


Map of Roman Britain, Scale sixteen miles to one inch

Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Include scale after title as this helps to identify the specific map used.

Work of art

Cedar, M.


Mars at Night. [Sculpture]

Manor Art Gallery, Manchester

Include type of artwork after title.


Provided you have these details and know which referencing style to use, you should be able to correctly write a citation for any source you need to use.

Most of the examples in this guide are in Harvard style. However, there are many different styles of referencing, and it is important to make sure that you are using the preferred style for your department. You should be able to find information about this in your course handbook. If not, ask your course or personal tutor. Remember that if you are taking modules in different departments, they may require a different style.

The style of referencing you need to use will affect: how and where you place brief citations (in the body of the text, in footnotes, or replaced by a number that acts as a signpost to the reference list); the order details should be arranged in; what punctuation you use. Getting it right shows that you are being thoughtful about your studies and can work with accuracy and academic rigour.

Citing unusual sources

If you have the four types of detail listed above, and you know which referencing style you need to use, you should be able to work out a clear and consistent  way to cite most sources. Check our list of Citation examples first, but if you can't find your source there, try these principles.

Example using the sources listed above:

In Harvard referencing:

Ordnance Survey. (1956). Map of Roman Britain. Scale sixteen miles to the inch. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

In Oxford referencing the same source would be cited like this:

Ordnance Survey, Map of Roman Britain. Scale sixteen miles to the inch (Southampton, 1956).

If you cannot work out how to cite a particular source, ask your Academic Liaison Librarian or a Study Advisor to help.

These external websites may also be helpful: