How to Reference

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What is referencing?

Referencing is the process of acknowledging other people’s work when you have used it in your assignment or research. 

Why is referencing important?

1. It shows that your writing is based on knowledge and informed by appropriate reading. Accurate referencing is therefore a key component of academic practice.

2. If you fail to reference your sources in your essay you may be accused of plagiarism. 

Plagiarism: Using the work of other people to gain some form of benefit, without formally acknowledging that the work came from someone else.

3. It shows your teacher the evidence of your research and makes certain that anyone reading your work (including yourself) can trace the sources you have used. 

How to reference:

Inside your essay (‘citation’) and at the end of your essay (‘Reference List’) 

1. Citation

When you use another person’s work in your own work, either by referring to their ideas, or by including a direct quotation, you must acknowledge this in your work. 

This acknowledgement is called a citation and it should include who the author is and when it was published in brackets.

Citing one author: 

  • A recent study investigated the effectiveness of using Google Scholar to find medical research (Henderson, 2005)…


  • Henderson (2005) has investigated the effectiveness of Google Scholar in finding medical research…

Citing two or three authors: 

  • (Errami & Garner, 2008) indicate that the number of duplicate papers published is increasing. 
  • Evidence shows that providing virtual laboratory exercises as well as practical laboratory experience enhances the learning process (Barros, Read & Verdejo, 2008).

Citing four or more authors: 

(If the book has four or more authors/editors the abbreviation ‘et al’ should be used after the first author’s name)

  • This was highlighted by (Smith et al, 2009).

Citing a direct quotation:

  • If you are using a direct quote from a book, website, etc., you must: Use single quotation marks (double quotation marks are usually used for quoting direct speech).
  • State the page number
  • Simons, Menzies and Matthews (2001) state that the principle of effective stress is ‘imperfectly known and understood by many practising engineers’ (p.4).

2. Reference List

At the end of your essay…

Include an alphabetical “Reference List” of all the books/websites you have used.

Include who wrote it, when it was published, what it was called and where it was published.

For a book

  • Bell, Judith (2010). Doing your research project. York: Open University Press.

For a website (include the web address & date visited)

Citation Generator

A citation generator can also be found at


You can also reference and create a bibliography using Microsoft Word in the references section.

If you are struggling with referencing please don’t hesitate to come and see us in the Learning Centre and we’ll be happy to help.

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