Leeds University Library



Referencing correctly is important to demonstrate how widely you have researched your subject, to show the basis of your arguments and conclusions and to avoid plagiarism.

Each school in the University requires students to use a specific style of referencing. Check the referencing style used in your school before you begin. All your citations and references should match the style you are using exactly, including any punctuation, capitalization, italics and bold, and you should use the same referencing style throughout your assignment. 

The University referencing policy (PDF) sets out the referencing requirements that all taught students and their tutors are expected to follow.

Why and when should I reference?

Why reference? 

Referencing is an important part of academic work for several reasons. It allows you to acknowledge other people's work when you refer to it in your assignment, and it helps your readers easily find the original sources of the ideas you have referred to or based your arguments on. 

Correct references help you to avoid plagiarism and to make it clear which ideas are your own and which are someone else's. This is a key part of good practice in academic writing. Read more about academic integrity.

Referencing other people's work in your assignment is a way to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your research around a topic, and allows you to show your understanding of the topic by incorporating other people's arguments and evidence alongside your own analysis.

When should I reference?

Whenever you use an idea from someone else's work, for example from a journal article, textbook or website, you should cite the original author to make it clear where that idea came from. This is the case regardless of whether you have directly quoted, paraphrased or summarised their work. For more information about quoting, summarising, paraphrasing and synthesising, see our webpage on using others' work. Learn more about citing direct quotations in Leeds Harvard or Leeds Numeric style.

References and citations explained

You need to give the person reading your assignment enough information to find the sources you have consulted. This is done by including citations in your work and providing a list of references.

Whenever you use someone else's ideas, either by putting them into your own words (paraphrasing) or by quoting directly, you must show this within the body of your work. This is known as a citation. The format will vary depending on the referencing style you use.

At the end of your assignment you will need to provide a list of references - full details of the sources you used when writing your assignment. Your references may take the form of either a reference list or a bibliography.

A reference list is normally considered to be a list of the citations that have appeared in the body of your work. How it is arranged will depend on the referencing style you are using. 

A bibliography lists all the sources that you have consulted in your research and, because it includes sources you may not have cited in your work, is usually arranged alphabetically by surname.

Many people use these terms interchangeably so, if you are unsure about which one to include, ask your tutor.

If you are new to referencing, take a look at our introduction to referencing tutorial.

Selecting the correct source type for your reference

You are likely to use a range of source types in your research, and each type of source requires particular information to be included in the corresponding reference.  Selecting the appropriate source type when creating a reference will help the reader to find the exact item you are referring to. This is especially important for items which are published both online and in print/paper format, as page numbers may be different or information may have been updated online but not in print.
For example, if you read a journal article online, you must include: 
  • [online],
  • the URL, and
  • the date you accessed the article, 
as well as the title, author, journal title and so on. (See our full guidance on referencing online journal articles in Harvard or Numeric). These three pieces of information should be included whenever you reference something you read online, no matter what type of document it is. 

If you download or read a PDF from a website, you must reference the actual document type, for example a book chapter, a government report or a leaflet, not the file format (PDF).

See our full guidance on how to reference different source types in Harvard or Numeric.

Harvard style

There is no definitive version of the Harvard style. You should use the Leeds version of Harvard when referencing sources in your work, and your work should also be marked using this guidance.

Numeric style

There is no definitive version of the Numeric style.

You should use the Leeds version of Numeric when referencing sources in your work, and your work should also be marked using this guidance.

MHRA style

The MHRA style is produced by the Modern Humanities Research Association.

* Click 'Download the full Guide' and agree to the terms of conditions of use to download the PDF version of the guide.

APA, IEEE, OSCOLA and Vancouver styles


This style is usually used within Psychology and related disciplines. It is produced by the American Psychological Association.


The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) style is used by the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.


This style is used by Law Qualifying Programmes in the School of Law. It is produced by the Oxford Law Faculty at the University of Oxford.


This style is used in the School of Medicine. The guidelines for this style are set by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

EndNote and other referencing tools

Referencing software (such as EndNote) not only helps you to store and manage your references, it also works with word-processing applications (like Microsoft Word) to automatically insert citations and create your bibliography or reference list for you.

The Leeds Harvard and Leeds Numeric referencing styles are managed and updated by the Library, and are available to use in EndNote.

You might find versions of the Leeds styles in other reference management software, online tools or apps. However, we do not endorse these tools or offer support in using them, and so we cannot vouch for the accuracy or reliability of the referencing styles they use.

Our webpages and the accompanying EndNote output style files are the only official source of guidance for the Leeds Harvard and Leeds Numeric referencing styles.

Further help