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A Guide to Different Referencing Styles

A Guide to Different Referencing Styles
cal LiveWebTutors cal 20 Apr, 2020

There are numerous citations or referencing styles that are used to format the information in an assignment or document accurately. Each of these patterns follows a different organizing structure. This article will help you to get familiar with the different referencing styles used in diverse universities of the world along with suitable examples to understand the same preciously.

An introduction to referencing and different referencing styles?

Referencing is defined as a way of giving credit to other authors or individuals for their intellectual and creative contribution that is used by another individual to support his own research or argument. Referencing can also be used for Identifying specific sources and avoiding plagiarism to seep in the prepared content. Usually referencing or citation include the name of the author, date of the article or document, location of the publishing organization, the title of the journal, and the DOI details (Digital Object Identifier). 

A referencing style, on the other hand, refers to the format of the information necessary to be referred and focuses on the order of the above-mentioned elements. Along with the referencing elements, a referencing style also focuses on the punctuation and other formatting requirements to enhance the credibility of a document or assignment.

Different referencing styles and their explanation

It is interesting to know that specific referencing styles are favored in specific academic areas because they sitwell with the type of text that is frequently consumed in that particular subject area. For example, while reading, the fields associated with film, theatre, English literature, and television all focus on the Modern Humanities Research Association, MHRA, referencing style. The reason behind this is the ability of this style to deal with the repeated references in a literary text.

However, the fields associated with English literature often use the basicform of the MHRA referencing style while the theatre, film, and television tend to use the author-date form of the MHRA referencing style. 

Similarly, several schools of law prefer to use OSCLA referencing style because it supports the rules necessary for quoting legal documents. The other referencing patterns that are most commonly used in different universities include the APA referencing manner, the Chicago referencing methodology, Harvard referencing approach, Oxford referencing style and the Vancouver referencing pattern. 

This article will include a brief description of different referencing styles used by the different departments of diverse universities. It is necessary for you to know that if you are pursuing your higher education in any department, discipline, or college the assignments allotted to you will require a particular referencing style to be followed. 

The APA referencing method

The APA referencing style is commonly referred to as a variant of the Harvard referencing technique. A large majority of the conventions used in the APA referencing style are similar to the ones in the Harvard with a brief author-date reference in the bracket while using in the body of the text and full references to be included in the elaborated reference list. It is common to include only a reference list rather than a bibliography while following the APA referencing method.

When a student or individual follows the APA referencing style for the content of a website, there is no need for him to include the date accessed. Take a look at this APA website reference technique to understand this in a better way.

The in-text APA reference in a website appears as: The National ABC Society (2010)

The APA style followed in the bibliography of a website appears as: The National ABC Society (2010). Recognizing the pet first aid awareness among the owners. Retrieved from

The AMS or the American Meteorological Society referencing approach

The department of meteorology in different universities of the USA often recommends using the AMS referencing style for citing the content included in the allotted assignments. In this referencing pattern, the journal names are often abbreviated.

The Chicago referencing technique

The Chicago referencing method presents a student with two options for citing his assignments. Either the student can list the brief references in the body of the text as followed in the APA or Harvard referencing manner or he can list the references in the footnotes of an assignment similar to the way followed in the Oxford referencing style. Therefore, if a student is asked to use the Chicago referencing style in his assignments, it is necessary for him to check which of the two options the department wants him to follow. 

The Harvard referencing method

Also known as the author-date referencing approach, the Harvard referencing style is on eof the most sparingly used referencing techniques. In this referencing pattern, the in-text references are included in brackets while mentioned in the body of a text or the footnotes. Along with this, the Harvard referencing style includes the surname of the author and the date of the publication being cited with the page number if the citation refers to a specific page. Full details of the reference are included only in the reference list or bibliography of the assignment or document. 

It is important for a student to know that Harvard is known to be a referencing style rather than a strict set of rules and regulations hence, the preferred punctuation and formatting of text can differ as per the universities. Let's take a quick look at an example of the Harvard referencing approach in a book as well as in a website

  • Book

In-text citation when following the Harvard referencing style will appear as: (Smith and Brown, 1996)

When the bibliography of a book is formatted by using the Harvard referencing style it will appear as: Smith, A.B. and Brown, C.D. Organic Chemistry. 5th ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Website

In-text Harvard reference in a website will appear as: (National ABC Society, 2010)

The Harvard referencing pattern, when followed in the bibliography of a website, will appear as: National ABC Society (2010) Recognizing the pet first aid awareness among the owners, online at, accessed 22/06/10

The Oxford referencing approach

In this referencing approach, the in-text references are included in the footnotes of a document or assignment. It is necessary to include the full details of a citation in the food notes for the initial mention of a text.  following this, a shortened version of the same can be used. Take a look at the example mentioned below to develop clarity on this technique.

The initial mention of a text in the footnotes will appear as: ABC XYZ, The political advertisements on social media (California, 2017) p.5.

Mention of the text in the footnotes after the initial mention is made will appear as: XYZ, the political ads on social media, p.5.

The Oxford referencing style when used in the bibliography of an assignment appears as: ABC XYZ, The political advertisements on social media (California, 2017).

The OSCOLA referencing methodology

Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities or OSCLA is a term for referencing style in legal documents. This referencing pattern is preferred by numerous law schools at reading because it supports certain rules and regulations which are appropriate for dealing with the type of sources that are commonly used by a law scholar including the command papers, the cases, and the statutes.

The in-text citations in this referencing methodology are included in the footnotes with a formal set of abbreviations for major sources such as AC for Appeal Cases. Punctuation is kept at a minimum and there is also a governed set of rules necessary for dealing with subsequent mentions.

If you are among the scholars who are pursuing their education in law you will be provided with guidelines on how your college or university expects you to follow the OSCOLA referencing methodology in your allotted assignments. Take a look at this example of the OSCOLA referencing technique used in a book

The in-text reference will appear in the footnote of the document as: William P. Statsky, Family Law (6th edn, ABC Press 1984) 176.

The bibliographic reference of the same methodology will appear as:  William P. Statsky, Family Law (6th edn, ABC Press 1984).

The MLA or the Modern Language Association referencing technique

MLA referencing manner is majorly used in the assignments associated with the field of Humanities specially the ones that focus on writing about literature or language. This referencing technique follows brief parenthetical referencing style in the in-text citations as well as in the bibliography which appears at the end of the work. The in-text references are included before the full stop of the sentence which includes the reference.

It is important for a student to know that referencing the sources is an essential component of any academic assignment of project. Properly cited assignment shows that you are responsible researcher and you gather your data from appropriate and reputable sources that have ultimately helped you to support your claim or argument in your academic papers.In addition to this if your assignments get published online or in a college journal there is a chance that other students will refer your work in their assignments.

However, referencing is not as easy task as it appears, so, if you are struggling with referencing or citing your assignment papers in an appropriate manner it is highly recommended for you to get in touch with writing  pioneers of the  livewebtutors platform and  get accurate directions and solutions for creating your references.

Read More… How to Make Attractive and Perfect Assignments?

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