How to Write a Bibliography in the Harvard System

Written by david koenig
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How to Write a Bibliography in the Harvard System
The system takes its name from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (harvard university image by Stephen Orsillo from

A bibliography lists books and other sources that an author uses for reference. Academic books and articles, as well as student essays and dissertations, frequently contain a bibliography at the end of the document. Popular formats for writing a bibliography include Harvard, MLA and Chicago Manual of Style. Typically, a university requires students to follow one style. The Harvard referencing system has specific guidelines for laying out book details such as titles, authors and publishers.

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    Referencing a Book by One Author

  1. 1

    Find the title page of the book you want to add to the bibliography. This page gives information about the exact title, author, publisher and year of publication. You normally find it about two or three pages in.

  2. 2

    Write the heading "Bibliography"; underneath that write the last name of the book's author, followed by a comma, followed by the initials. For example, "Jones, B."

  3. 3

    Add a comma, followed by the year of publication, followed by a period. Now the example should read, "Jones, B., 1998."

  4. 4

    Add the full title in italics, followed by a period.

  5. 5

    Add the city of publication, followed by a colon, then the name of the publisher, followed by a period. For example, "London: Oxford University Press." By now, the full entry should read something like "Jones, B., 1998. Edgar Splodge: A Life in Pictures. London: Oxford University Press." (The title should be in italics.)

  6. 6

    Repeat the steps for other books, on separate lines, in alphabetical order according to the author's last name, such as Dickens before Jones and Morgan before Smith.

    Editors and Multiple Authors

  1. 1

    If a book is edited, write "ed." between the author's name and the date of publication, separated by commas. For example, "Jones, B., ed., 1998."

  2. 2

    List multiple authors of a book in the order in which you referenced them in the essay or document, such as "Jones, B., Jackson, M. & Redbone, L."

  3. 3

    List just the first author when a book has four or more authors, followed by the Latin abbreviation "et al." For example, "Jones, B. et al."

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