The style and format of a written paper significantly influences its ability to achieve the intended purpose. For this reason, it is important that a paper adheres to the appropriate style and referencing that help in creating its structure. Among the popular referencing styles is Harvard, which is a unique set of instructions on how to format, cite, or reference certain papers. While mostly suited for the humanities, philosophy, and behavioral sciences, the Harvard referencing style is also used in other fields as instructed (Coxhead, 2009). Exploring the details on format, citation, and referencing in the Harvard style helps highlight the significance of having the right referencing style done accurately.
The Harvard referencing style has the format of a regular formal academic paper but with unique details on how to place headers, titles, and page numbers. Page numbers and the title with all first letters capitalized are placed on the right side of the header (Coxhead, 2009). The title is centered with all first letters capitalized both in the title page and the page where the introduction begins. In this referencing style, the title is not italicized, bolded, or underlined. These features are what define the style of a Harvard referencing paper from the onset.
Another key aspect that defines the Harvard referencing style is the citations. Similar to other academic papers, any borrowed information in a Harvard referenced paper needs to be cited to avoid plagiarism. The in-text citations for this style are put in a parenthesis in which the author’s last name and year of publication are separated by a comma (Coxhead, 2009). A page number can also be added to the citation following the year of publication and separated by another comma. A publication with two authors separates them by ‘&’ up until three authors. More than three authors in an in-text citation only holds the last name of one author followed by ‘et al.’ within a parenthesis. A possible source of confusion is when the author’s name is already included in the sentence before the end where the parenthesis is usually placed. In this case, the final parenthesis will only contain the year of publication and possible page number. The in-text citations, therefore, count as a unique marker of the Harvard referencing style.
Finally, a significant part of a paper where the Harvard referencing style guide must be adhered to is on the references list. The reference style for the bibliography in Harvard is similar to other popular styles in terms of content and general formatting such as a hanging indent (Coxhead, 2009). However, what makes this references list different in a way that is worth noticing is that only last names are written in full and the capitalization and italicization need to follow this guideline. While remembering all the details might be difficult, numerous resources and machine generators can be accessed for help.
Reviewing the guidelines for the Harvard writing styles reveals that items such as bolding and italicization can make a big difference in defining a piece of writing. By taking its own form using the highlighted changes in structure, the Harvard referencing styles make the paper read uniquely. A reference guide is seen as not just an idea of how to write but a kind of language that gives a certain impression. Keeping up with the guidelines of the Harvard referencing style would thus influence its capability to reach its purpose.
Coxhead, P., 2009. A referencing style guide.