A Simple Guide to Referencing Styles

simple guide to referencing

In universities across the world, students are judged and marked not only on the work that they submit, but also on the format they use and the references their work is based upon. One of the most common tasks students face in their academic life is to write papers that draw upon the research of others.

Students are required to mention or give credit to the sources they have borrowed facts or information from that is not common knowledge to the public. For example, we all know that Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan. But if we were to include the total population of Islamabad in our paper, we would need to provide the source of that information as various surveys differ in opinion.

This is called Referencing. The basic definition of referencing would be ‘to provide a book or article with citations of sources of information’. A referencing style is a set of guidelines which you can use to acknowledge the thoughts, ideas and works of other researchers in a particular way. Following are some of the commonly used Referencing Styles around the world:

APA; stands for the American Psychological Association and is primarily used in the USA.

MLA; stands for Modern Language Association and is used particularly in the USA.

Harvard; mostly used in UK and Australia.

Vancouver; mainly used in scientific and medical papers.

Chicago and Turabian; these are two different styles but are mostly used for referencing in history and economics.

APA Referencing Style:

The APA Referencing style is used primarily in the USA, specifically by the Social Sciences and the institutions affiliated with it. The APA style helps a student to cite a source and format their paper/essay/thesis in a clear and consistent manner. The elements of APA style include in-text matters such as punctuation standards, margin depth, heading format and line spacing.

When citing a book in APA, always remember to capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title and any subtitles, as well as the first letters of any proper nouns. Furthermore, the full title of the book, including any subtitles, should be stated and italicized.

Example: Author. (Year of Published). Title of Book. City, State: Publisher.


MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is most often used to write papers and cite sources by the students of the liberal arts and humanities. It is also arguably the most well used among all citation styles.

Example: Author. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.


This referencing style is mostly used by university students in the UK and Australia. It is a kind of small notes that a student uses within the text of the paper.  While using the Harvard referencing, you need to include the author’s last name and the date of publication in brackets after the citation in the body of your paper.

The full reference list or bibliography is mentioned in the end of your paper in an alphabetic reference list. Footnotes and endnotes are not used in this style.

Format: Author, Publication Date, Title of Book, Edition, Publisher, Place of Publication.


Vancouver is a numbered referencing style commonly used in medicine and science with citations being indicated by the use of numbers and a sequentially numbered reference list that is provided at the end of the document with full details of the corresponding in-text citations.

Format: Author, Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher; Date of Publishing.


The Chicago NB (notes and bibliography) system is commonly used in the humanities and provides writers with a set of guide lines for referencing their sources through the use of footnote and endnote citation in their writing and through bibliography. This also gives the writers an opportunity to comment on those reference sources.

Footnote format: Note Number. Author, Title of Book: Subtitle of Book (Place of Publication: Publisher’s Name, Date of Publication), Page Number(s).

Referencing or citing your sources is an important part of academic writing. It also helps to avoid plagiarism; which is highly frowned upon in the academic world. The simplest way to avoid mistakes is to use the style your institution recommends and not to mix and match.

For some students, perfectly referencing their work can be a daunting task. Students can contact the literary angels at Creative Savantz who are well versed in the art of perfect citations and can help provide you research papers and thesis written from scratch. You can use these plagiarism free papers as the basis of your own work. You can submit your work to us and rest easily knowing your essay will be worth top marks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *