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All That You Ever Want to Know About Writing References in Dissertations

A good research is verifiable, let your readers be at complete ease to find the sources your material is based on….

Here’s how!

When you know how to reference your dissertation correctly, you would be able to give a great academic finish to it.  Referencing also supports your arguments, opinions, ideas and it is a clear manifestation of the amount of research done.

What is Referencing?

 Referencing is a series of conventions, which is written to point the readers towards the sources that you borrow for your research work. Here we assist you with writing the different references styles:

Different Referencing Styles: A Quick Look

  • APA Style: used in Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts
  • Chicago Style: used in Art, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Vancouver Style: used in Natural Sciences, Pharmacy and Technology
  • Harvard Style: used in Natural Sciences, Technology and Social Sciences

Note: Check out the reference style recommended by your department before commencing the work.

The APA Style:

American Psychological Association or APA referencing style is used by the students of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Given here is an example of this format.

Example of APA Style:

When you need to write in  APA style:

  • The list is to be arranged alphabetically using author’s surname.
  • Use & (and) before the last author if there are multiple authors.
  • For instance, if there are 10 or more authors, the first six are to be followed by ellipsis and then the last author is added like J.K., Rowling, A.K., Samuels, P.F., Blackwood………D.C.,Chinnery.
  • If the source that you cite is not in English, you need to write English translation of the title in square [ ] brackets.
  • Volumes, book titles and titles of the journals are to be written in Italics.
  • The paragraph needs to be indented for a reference.
  • Use the heading “Reference List” or “Literature List.” for the reference.

APA Style in Text

When you are using this style in text, these are the pointers to remember

  • If there are multiple publications by the same author, published in the same year, you need to distinguish them by a, b, c like Henry (1999a), Henry (1999b)
  • When the source that you want to site does not have identifiable author, you should use the first word of the title and publication year. Chapters and article titles are to be written with quotation marks and the reports, pamphlets and the book titles are to be cited in Italics. For instance, “Mystery Unfold” (1988).
  • If the source to be cited is a publication with multiple authors then follow this:
  • Two authors: name both of them each time you quote them. For instance: Dickens and Hemingway (1999).
  • Three, Four and Five Authors: name all authors the first time you quote them and from then on use the surname of the first author and follow it with et al. Similarly, if there are more than six authors of a single publication write the surname of the first author followed by et al.
  • When you are quoting a secondary reference just name the source and cite it. For instance, Peters’ and Johnson studies as cited in…., 1981)
  • Provide page numbers, if there are direct quotations.
  • Page numbers should always be used for direct and indirect quotations or for citing some specific sources.


If the quotations are direct and shorter than 40 words they are to be integrated in the text and placed within the quotation marks, if they are more than 40 words, they should be in a different indented paragraph with quotation marks.

Personal Communications:

If you have taken any sort of information via phone, messages or mails, you should use the same in the reference list. You can site this in the text itself on getting permission of the concerned person. Site the person name and the date of communication.

The Chicago Style:

Chicago A is a note style and Chicago B is an author-date version. Before beginning the paper check out which style your department is using. Let us begin with an example.

Example of Chicago Style Referencing:

  • Sort the list alphabetically by the surname of author.
  • Whether articles, websites, books or anything else, all the citations are to be included in one list.
  • Reference list to begin from a new page with the heading “Literature list” or “reference list” as the headline.
  • If there are four authors or more than that, you need to write the first author’s surname only followed by et al. In the literature list you need to include all the authors.
  • Volumes, titles of the journals and book titles are to be used in italics.
  • When there are secondary references include both the primary and secondary sources in the reference list.

For Personal Communication:

The same rule as in the APA style applies here also. Name and title of your conversation partner along with the mention of date and content of the communication.

When you use Chicago in text:

  • Rules for publications with multiple authors and using secondary references are same as in APA style.
  • If the work does not have any identifiable, only the title is to be written in this case.
  • When you have used an idea from any specific source do mention the page number for that.

The Vancouver Style:

This style is used in Natural Sciences, Medicines and Technology. Before you get on with this reference style check out which style your department recommends.

  • All the references given in this style should be numbered.
  • The list is to be arranged in a sequential order in which references appear in the body of text.
  • If there are multiple authors of a single publication, list a few followed by et al.
  • If available you can use official abbreviations for the titles of the journal.

When you use Vancouver style in-text

  • Arabic number in brackets is used for the reference after citing.
  • If you are referring to a particular source more than once, you should use the same name that you used the first time to refer to a particular source.
  • If you are citing a number of sources in a single sentence, you need to cite them as (1-4) to refer to the sources 1,2,3,4 and similarly (4-8) for referring sources 4,5,6,7,8.

The Harvard Style:

The style is used for Natural Sciences, Technology and Sciences. If this style is recommended by your department follow these rules.

Harvard Style for Endnote:

If you are making use of Endnote for managing your references, you need to use default Harvard style with the author names in written in upper case For instance (ROWLING).

How to Write Reference List in Harvard Style?

  • Arrange the list alphabetically by the name of writer’s surname.
  • Begin the reference list on a new page with the title “Literature List” or “Reference List”
  • Include the edition wherever specified in the publication. Add the date of printing if it is a re-edition and if it is first one, edition need not be mentioned.
  • When the reference is taken from more than three authors, only the first author’s name followed by “et al” should be mentioned.

Personal Communication:

Harvard style excludes personal communication as a source in the reference list if the information cannot be recollected. However, personal communication can be cited in the text including the name and title of your partner.

Direct Citations:

If there are direct citations that are shorter than 2-3 lines then they can be integrated in the text and should be marked with quotes. Citations that are longer than 3 lines should be in the intended paragraph.

Important to remember:

These styles do not vary much and the basic rules remain the same. It is good consult your department first to know which style you need to follow. For preparing a substantial reference list, you need to grab quotations, opinions, predictions, visuals, case studies and other relevant statistics. While you are gathering your literature take care to grab all the important information about the source simultaneously.

This is just an endeavor to help you understand how to write your reference list in a simple way. Hope this helps you in your quest. We are pleased to receive further queries.

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