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Referencing: referencing styles banner image

Once you start creating citations and references, you need to consider referencing styles. There are hundreds of them out there, and each has a slightly different set of rules about how citations and reference lists should appear in your text. The Cite Them Right Harvard style is one of the main referencing styles used at Newcastle University, but there are many other styles, including Vancouver, IEEE, OSCOLA, and many, many more. Referencing styles are like a set of instructions. They tell you what types of information you need to include, the order that information should appear, and the way it should be formatted in your work. At a basic level, every style will ask you to record who created the information, when, what it is called, and how you access it.​

Your lecturers will expect you to use a specific style, and all your citations and references should match that style accurately and consistently; same punctuation, same capitalisation, same everything. The style of referencing you use will vary depending on your subject area. It's important that you know which style you are required to use – check your programme and module handbooks and speak to your lecturers if you are not sure which style to use.

Popular referencing styles

Cite Them Right Harvard is the most commonly used referencing style at Newcastle University. It follows the author-date format whereby each reference starts with the author's surname, initials and year of publication. There are many variations of Harvard but the one used at Newcastle can be found in Cite Them Right, which is available in print and electronic format. Harvard uses an in-text citation inserted in the text, coupled with a reference list at the end of the document, which provides the key. It includes guidance about how to reference just about every type of information you can think of, including the more tricky online sources such as social media. 

If your school does not have a preferred style, this is the style that we would recommend. 

You will find the Cite Them Right Harvard style in EndNote, and are able to download the style from our EndNote guide if you are using it locally on your own device.

OSCOLA is a footnote style used in the Newcastle Law School. If you are using EndNote, there is an OSCOLA 2 4th edition style available. 

   Find out more about the OSCOLA referencing style

The IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and they specify a system of citation in their guidance for authors writing for their publications style. The referencing style is used widely in the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. It uses a numbered reference list where in-text citations are numbered using square brackets [1] and a reference list at the end, which is in numerical order.

There is a trusty IEEE manual that you can refer to for a wide variety of advice including writing for publication in IEEE transactions and Journals. It also includes a detailed section on editing references (check out section V, page 34 onwards). The University of York’s guide to IEEE is also definitely worth checking out, as along with a really useful in-house manual, there is also an A-Z menu of how to cite and reference in the IEEE style. The University of Bath have gone for a more streamlined help sheet, which does what it says on the tin! Help!

Further afield, Murdoch University have created an IEEE library guide with examples of how you would apply the style. So with a wealth of guidance and advice, you can’t really go wrong!

From the American Psychological Association, the APA 7th referencing style is used by Psychology as well as Speech and Language Sciences and Educational Psychology students in the School of Education, Communication & Language Sciences. With any referencing style, it is best to go back to the source, so your go to guide book for any APA questions should be the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. It provides examples for many of the common source types that you'll encounter in your literature search and guidance about all aspects the style. 

However, some students find it challenging to find the right example for the information they have in front of them. Cite Them Right can provide a more accessible explanation and the search function within the online resource allows you to find information quickly. Cite them Right is available as a print book and as an online guide. You might be asked to log in with your university user ID and password when off campus.

The APA’s own website is also a great source of information, providing hints and tips about the APA style more broadly. We find the APA blog an excellent source to answer questions about the more obscure and funny referencing questions. APA also have a very useful online tutorial to help you with all aspects of APA 7th edition. The inspired idea of a Frankenreference (when your source doesn't fit into one type) is especially pleasing to us librarians. 

If you're using EndNote, you'll find APA 7th as a style option (if not, you can download the style from the Clarivate website) and there are lots of books in the Library which will help you understand and apply the style. Here are a couple of useful titles you might want to look at: 

The School of History, Classics and Archeology use the footnote version of the Chicago referencing style, with a full bibliography at the end. The bibliography is organised alphabetically by the first author surname. As footnotes are included in the word count, an abbreviated form of the citation is used in subsequent citations and ibid. is used in footnotes where the same source is used consecutively.

Chicago style can be tricky to get used to, as a different order of the reference elements and punctuation is used in the footnotes and bibliography. Referring back to the Chicago style manual when you are referencing a new type of information is always a good idea; a writing guide by Kate Turabian which is aimed at students and researchers is also available, you can borrow them from the Library and they provide the most comprehensive guidance for using the style in your writing:

Chicago is also a style in EndNote and as adding the citation in the footnote can be time consuming, it would be worth considering spending the time to learn how to use EndNote. Our Teach Yourself EndNote guide will help you get started.  

You'll also find some guidance on the Chicago style on Cite Them Right Online and you are able to change to the Chicago style in the information type examples. 

This style is tailored for use by Biomedical Sciences students. It is a superscripted version of the Vancouver style which shows the first 10 authors followed by ‘et al.’ in the reference list. 

A journal article would appear like this(1), a book would appear in the format below(2). If you wanted to insert a web page it would look like this(3). This is a book chapter(4).

  1. Ren B, O’Brien BA, Byrne MR, Ch’ng E, Gatt PN, Swan MA, Nassif NT, Wei MQ, Gijsbers R, Debyser Z, et al. Long-term reversal of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice by liver-directed gene therapy. Journal of Gene Medicine. 2013;15:28-41.

  2. Brown SP. Exercise physiology: basis of human movement in health and disease. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2006.

  3. FutureLearn. Ageing Well: Falls.  2015  [cited 18/3/15]; Available from:

  4. Battista E. Respiratory system. In: Horton-Szar D, Page C, eds. Pharmacology. 4th ed. Edinburgh: Mosby/Elsevier. 2012:45-52.

More information available on the Biomedical Sciences Blog Post.

This style appears in EndNote on the University network and biomedical science students are directed towards this style throughout the degree programme up to and including the final year project. If you are using a personal copy of EndNote you will need to download the style from the link below.

The Modern Humanities Research Association style is used in a number of schools in the HASS Faculty and is a numeric style, where a number is used in the text as a flag for a referenced source.

The footnote/endnote function in Word makes it fairly straightforward to add the subscript number and it is worth checking with your lecturers if they prefer footnotes or endnotes.

MHRA also introduces the use of ibid. (in the same place) in the footnote to denote where a source has been referenced in the footnote above. This will help with your word count, for those of you whose writing is more verbose.

You are able to download the style guide from the MHRA website, find relevant books from the Library and Cite Them Right Online provides guidance or referencing many of the common sources using MHRA. It can be a more accessible source for anyone new to MHRA referencing. There is also an MHRA online tutorial from Cardiff University Information Services.

The School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics style guide is based on MHRA.  

The Modern Languages Association (MLA) referencing style is commonly used in subjects such as English and Modern Foreign Languages, as well as other humanities subject areas.

The style places the emphasis on the author and page number and is used with in-text citations e.g. (Jones 23). MLA also lists the references at the end as a Works Cited List. In-text citations have no comma between the author and page number.

MLA is covered in Cite Them Right Online which offers advice about the conventions of the style and examples for many common source types that you will use in assignments. Also have a look at the MLA Style Centre for further help with this style - their Ask the MLA answers a lot of commons questions students have when it comes to MLA referencing.

However, the MLA guides offer the fullest advice and are available to borrow from the library: 

The style recommended for Biology students has been adapted from the J Comp Physiology A style. Full details of the style are available in the Guidelines for the submission of written work. The amended style is available in EndNote as J Comp Physiology A Newcastle Biology.

The main differences from the standard journal style are the omission of issue numbers for journals and the omission of the DOI unless an article is only available in electronic form. The full journal title is needed rather than the abbreviated title.

Example references:

Online image from Red list website:
De Jong-Lantink M (2016) The Giant Panda. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed 22nd March 2017

Conference Paper:
Miller P, Lacy R, Medina-Miranda R, Lopez-Ortiz R, Traylor-Holzer K (2013) Confronting the invasive species crisis with PVA: An explicit, two-species metamodel of an endangered bird and its nest parasite in Puerto Rico. Paper presented at the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB 2013), Jul 21

Newspaper archive article:
Hardwick JC (1931) A Modernist Restatement. Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art 151:7-8

Herbal/medicinal plants from Special Collections:
Blackwell E (1739) A curious herbal : containing five hundred cuts, of the most useful plants, which are now used in the practice of physick, engraved on folio copper plates, after drawings, taken from the life. London : Printed for J. Nourse, London

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) have a specific style, which they use across their journals. It is a numeric style, which uses superscript numbers for in-text citations and abbreviated journal titles in the reference list. The RSC referencing guide gives you practical examples of how to create references for a variety of information types, but if you need further guidance or would like to see an article template then use the RSC's Resources for Authors.

If you need to check the accepted abbreviation for a journal title, refer to the Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (CASSI).