Reference trouble? Quotations and source lists can be tough. Referencing a document and confused between Chicago, APA, Harvard or MLA? Here’s a quick cheat guide. When in doubt remember the trick is consistency when citing references. So pick your preferred style below and stick with it.

Referencing Chicago

Chicago referencing style

The key information you will need for your reference is always author name, date, title of work, publisher (journal/book) and page numbers.

For more help with Chicago check this out.

Reference APA

APA refencing style

Other information might change in order, but if you have the essentials it’s hard to go wrong.

For  more help with APA go here.

Reference Harvard

harvard referencing style

For more help with Harvard.

Tip: there are problems with software that generates bibliography lists. So to avoid being caught out near submission write up your source list in a word document as you go and save it more than once in different locations.


MLA referencing style


For help with MLA check this out.

If you need furthur help checking a bibliography or other university document? Get in touch.

Common issues

Some of the most frequent problems I am asked to fix in the bibliography involve:

(A) Missing information,

(B) Inconsistent formatting.

Key things to look out for are if the punctuation marks are consistent and correct in every entry. Do all online sources have a DOI/http link consistently formatted? You may also find that titles are not formatted in the same way. I also find that students cut and paste refs from Google Scholar without checking for errors (which I frequently spot in missing volume or issue information and missing page numbers).

This is why people hire me as it takes a lot of time to go over, less if one is an expert.

Otherwise, chose a reference style (or follow university guidelines in the first instance) and collect referencing information correctly the first time you read a document. I used a spreadsheet for everything I read in my first PhD/doctorate year. This was important as I had heard about difficulties with list generators and wanted to create a master Word document to later use in my final year. A little planning goes a long way.

Emma Parfitt

Proofreader for business and academic documents, translations, and English writing.


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