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Classics: Citing references

A guide to finding information in Classics. Includes links to key resources and sources of help.

Whenever you refer to another person's work in your own essay, dissertation or article you must acknowledge them and give full details of your source. You risk being accused of plagiarism if you fail to do so.

Classics requires two different citation styles. Harvard referencing is used for modern sources, such as modern books, articles and websites. Oxford referencing is used to cite ancient texts. 

For general information on referencing, including an explanation of different citation systems, and guidance on citing specific types of publication, see our Citing references guide.

For help with citing specific types of publication contact your librarian.

For advice on using references in your work, and how to use them to support your arguments, consult the guidance on the Study Advice website or make an appointment with them.

Citation examples

Ancient texts are cited using the Oxford referencing style.

In-Text References

When citing an ancient literary work in your essay you need to be as specific as possible when referring to the exact line, paragraph or reference of the work you are citing.

Verse authors should be referred to by the title of the work, book or poem number (as necessary) and line number. Titles of any works are italicised.

e.g. Homer, Iliad 6.332-45 [= book 6, lines 332 to 345].

e.g. Euripides, Helen 420-2 [= lines 420 to 422].

Prose authors are referred to by title, book number (if applicable) and chapter number and sometimes by sections within a chapter.

e.g. Plutarch, Pericles 32.2 [= Plutarch, Life of Pericles, chapter 32, section 2].

Sometimes you may see references that use abbreviations e.g. Hom. Il. 6.332-45. = Homer, Iliad 6.332-45. A list of abbreviations can be found in Liddell and Scott's Greek-English lexicon (see link below) or Lewis and Short's Latin dictionary (Call Number: DICTIONARIES--DIC 473.2-LEW).

If you find a translation that does not include line numbers for verse authors, check your module convenor's instructions to see whether using such a translation is allowed in your module. If it is okay to use that translation, then try to give as much information as possible - specify the translation you are using and the page number.

After you have referred to an author and work the first time you need only refer to the line or book/chapter afterwards.

If there is only one extant work by an author you can just refer to the author and the line or book/chapter when referencing the work in-text, e.g. Herodotus 6.32.1 [= Herodotus, book 6, chapter 32, section 1].

Reference in the bibliography:

Euripides, Helen, with introduction, translation and commentary by Peter Burian (Oxford 2007)

For further guidence on using the Oxford referencing style, click here. 

Ancient texts

Ancient texts are cited using the Oxford referencing style.

Citation in the text:    "....." (Euripides, Helen 420-2)

Reference in the bibliography:

Euripides, Helen, with introduction, translation and commentary by Peter Burian (Oxford 2007)

Modern texts

Modern texts are cited using the Harvard referencing style.

Book with a single author

Citation in the text:            Wray (2001: 143) stated that….. or “…Roman man's subjective experience" (Wray 2001: 143).

Reference in the bibliography:     

Wray, D. (2001) Catulus and the poetics of Roman manhood. Cambridge.

Book chapter

Citation in the text:               “….. (Dillon 2012: 266).”

Reference in the bibliography:    

Dillon, S. (2012) 'Female portraiture in the Hellenistic period'. In S.L.James and S.Dillon (edd.), A companion to women in the ancient world, 263-277. Malden, MA.

Please note that the journal issue number within a volume (if needed) is within brackets. Even if your article is online, you should follow the citation style given in the example below, unless it exists online only - there is no need to give the URL.

Journal article with a single author (print and online)

Citation in the text:        ... (Stone 2011: 75)

Reference in the bibliography:   

Stone, C.R. (2011) 'Investigating Macedon in medieval England: The St. Albans compliation, the Philippic Histories, and the reception of Alexander the Great', Viator 42 (1), 75-111.

Journal article with single author (online only)

Reference in the bibliography:  

Clay, J.S. (1994) 'The plot of the Lysistrata and the hostages of line 244', Electronic Antiquity 1 (7) (accessed 3 March 2019).

You should avoid citing webpages unless you are clear of their quality and suitability for inclusion in academic work. See the link at the bottom of the page for more information about evaluating webpages. 

Where citation of a web-based source is necessary, adopt the following format and citation order in the Bibliography:

Author [if identifiable], (year) 'Title of article [if appropriate]', Name of website editor [if provided], Title of website [in italics], [Date visited] [in square brackets], URL: http: // internet address / remote path [keep as one line]. 

The citation in the text should be by author and date, as with other sources, though problems can occur where there is no obvious author (see below).     

Citation in the text:    “….. (Boedeker 2011)

Reference in the bibliography:    

Boedeker, D (2011), 'No way out? Aging in the new (and old) Sappho', Ellen Greene and Marilyn Skinner (eds)., Classics@ Volume 4. The Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University [Accessed 22 July 2014],

Can't identify the author?

If you can identify the organisation responsible for the website, then use their name as the author e.g. Centre for Hellenic Studies. If this is not possible, then use the page title or an abbreviation thereof.

Citation in the text:    “….. (Center for Hellenic Studies, n.d.).”

Reference in the bibliography:    

Center for Hellenic Studies (n.d.), ‘About us’, Centre for Hellenic Studies [Accessed 10 July 2015]

Can't tell what date it was created or updated?

Look for an updated date at the foot of the page. If you can’t find one, then use the year you accessed the information.

If you are citing a web site then you should retain a printed copy of that site on that day as the site can be changed without notice.

All references cited in the text should be listed in the bibliography. They should be listed in alphabetical order by author.

Ancient texts should be listed separately from modern texts.

For ancient works, full details should be given in the following order:

author, title of work [in italics]; editor or translator's name(s), date and place of publication.

For modern works, full details should be given in the following order:

author, (year) [in brackets] 'title of article or book chapter' [in inverted commas, if appropriate], title of journal or book [in italics]; volume and part number [if a journal], place of publication [if a book] then pages [if appropriate].


EndNote logoWhen you do your dissertation you could consider using EndNote to manage your references. This bibliographic management package can be used to store references, and then insert the citation in your Word document, automatically building the bibliography for you in the correct style.

Find out more on our EndNote webpages:

For information on other options for electronic management of your references see our guide to Managing references: