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Academic Referencing Styles | How to Cite and Reference (With SAMPLES)

In academic writing, the most significant subject besides the content you write is referencing. Referencing simply means acknowledging information that has been sourced elsewhere. For every report or essay question, most of the materials a writer uses are researched and thus need to be referenced to avoid plagiarism. This makes referencing not only important but also vital in all academic writing works. It is actually the knowledge of referencing that makes a writer great. There are various academically accepted referencing styles with the most popular ones being Harvard, APA, MLA, and Chicago. There are also other referencing styles; although not very popular, you may find them in an academic writing order, they are Vancouver, AMA, ASA, Turabian, Oxford, AGLC etc.

Referencing styles in summary

One thing that used to scare me whenever I heard of academic writing were the referencing styles. This is because they are rarely taught in colleges and academic writers brag of how hard they are to understand. Well, I am here to inform you that this is actually the easy part and you do not really have to memorize them you just have to understand their application. Most are the times I have assigned a writer an essay and then added the references myself  in a very short span of time; this tells you how easy it can be.

Note, references appear in an essay in two forms the in text citation and the reference list. The in text citation is a short representation of the reference inside an essay/report while the reference list gives complete detail. The referencing styles  determine how an in text looks like, how the reference list appears and how the paper is formatted. Below is a simple summary of the referencing styles.

          i. Harvard referencing style

Majorly used in reports and is characterized by the lack of a comma in the in texts and lack of brackets in the reference list. Harvard has various variants thus making its format to change per variant. Some variants include Harvard AGPS, Harvard Anglia and Exeter.Harvard AGPS Sample essay

     ii. APA referencing style

Mainly used in essays characterized by use of comma in the in text and brackets in the references list; the header in the main page has the words “running head” next to the title.

Under document structure, the paragraphs are indented and the order is usually double-spaced.APA Referencing style sample

     iii. MLA referencing style

Mainly used in book reviews thus its characterized by a page number in the in text rather than the publishing date. In the reference list the medium of the source must be indicated.MLA Referencing style sample

    iv. Chicago

Uses foot notesChicago Referencing style sample

A demo of the various referencing styles

Here is a simple demo of how the referencing styles look like in an essay

Sample in text and referencing list

How to cite | How to add in text citations

As i mentioned earlier in text citations are  short versions of the source material, check the demo above to understand.

Below are variations of how in texts look like

  • Jonathan and Almond (2012, p. 13) say, teens that have used marijuana have either dropped out of school or lost interest in life.
  • Jonathan and Almond say, teens that have used marijuana have either dropped out of school or lost interest in life (2012, p. 13).
  • Finally, according to Angela (2012), tobacco and alcohol use can reduce with the legalization of marijuana.
  • Marijuana is both a psychoactive and medicinal drug that is primarily a depressant that sometimes induces hallucinations (Powell 2012, p.5).

Notice how the in texts enrich the sentence, they make the reader feel that the information is not only factual but also true; Simply it tells the reader that you know your business and have researched fully. In addition you should Notice in texts contain the surname of the author and the year of publication and sometimes the page number. The rest of the info is available in the reference list. Again Note, the in texts in examples a, b and c are applicable in all referencing style except for Chicago, which uses footnotes and MLA which instead of using year of publication only uses the page in the in texts. Example d however would vary depending on the referencing style. Notice there is no comma between author and year that applies in Harvard; if it were in APA, it would look like this (Powell, 2012, p.5). This is the most popular variation in texting and is mainly added at the end of the last sentence in a paragraph. Note according the rules of academic writing, for every paragraph there must be at least one in text citation.

When citations are used in the continuous prose of a sentence; for instance, in “Jonathan and Almond (2012, p. 13) say, teens that have used marijuana have either dropped out of school or lost interest in life.” they become part of the sentence. From that we learn that symbols should be removed and replaced with words; for instance, the citation above when added at the end of a sentence will look like this “ teens that have used marijuana have either dropped out of school or lost interest in life (Jonathan & Almond 2012, p. 13).” Notice the symbol in this method of in texting; thus it is wrong to in text this way “Jonathan & Almond (2012, p. 13) say, teens that have used marijuana have either dropped out of school or lost interest in life.”

Whenever an article has more than three authors it would be a waste of space to write all their surnames in the in text; thus, we pick one author and replace the rest with a Latin word et al, which means plural to represent the other authors. Note the authors will still be mentioned in the reference list. Example “As per recent statics there has been almost 2,000 Australian cases of death by suicide each year (Farrer, et al., 2016)”. However, when this in text is used inside the sentence and not at the end, the word et al should be replaced with words like fellow scholars or fellow researchers. Therefore, the above example should read this way, “As per the recent statics conducted by Farrer and fellow scholars, there have been almost 2,000 Australian cases of death by suicide each year (2016).


We have learnt of the various referencing styles and how they affect the structure of the paper. We have also learnt of in texts and reference list. If you have found it hard to understand the styles do not get worried simply use Microsoft inbuilt referencing tool click on the article to understand how to use the tool


2 thoughts on “Academic Referencing Styles | How to Cite and Reference (With SAMPLES)”

  1. Stano says:

    Nice one brother

  2. Winnie says:

    Nice thanks

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