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Geography: Referencing Guide

Your comprehensive online information and study resource for studying Geography at University of Cambridge

Referencing style

Undergraduate and MPhil students in the Department of Geography are recommended to use the Harvard referencing style, are very popular style used by many authors of articles and books.

The Guide to Harvard Referencing from Imperial College, London, is helpful in understanding more about this style. You can also use reference software and set it to Harvard style when writing your work; the software will do most of this work. Please be aware that if the data in the software is missing details, you will have the wrong reference, so always double-check your work.

Please ask your Geography Librarian for help if something is not clear.

Reference Software to help

You will find reference management software useful for creating bibliographies.

Geography students often use Zotero.

Check out the LibGuide on using Zotero.

Ebook tip

Citing an ebook can be tricky if you need page numbers for direct citations, explaining specifics and ideas, or even showing images. For example, if no page numbers are presented, you can give the chapter, section and the number in the paragraph you found this quote. 

The Leeds Library Libguides has great examples for many other cases. Visit if you need more examples. 

Test your understanding of plagiarism

Reading the information above, do you think the following statements are TRUE or FALSE. Click on the statement to reveal the answer

FALSE. Mixing a few words of an article with your own is often throught of as paraphrasing, but this is not the way to paraphrase in your work. Look at the paraphrasing section for more information on how to paraphrase well.

FALSE. If you are submitting the work as your own, you should be the only person writing it. If you are submitting group with more than one contributor, make sure all the contributions are acknolwedged

FALSE. Information and content that is not your own work needs to be referenced regardless of where it is located. Referencing acknowledges another persons' work and is good academic practice. See our section on referencing for more information.

TRUE. All information, including statistics, images, diagrams and tables where the work is not your own need to be referenced. Look at the referencing section for more information.

FALSE. Information and content that is not your own work needs to be referenced regardless of whether it is published or not. This includes your own work as well. Referencing acknowledges the original work and is good academic practice. See our section on referencing for more information.


Referencing advice

To avoid plagiarism it is good practice to acknowledge your sources by referencing. In this section you will find examples of the variety of ways to introduce these into your own work, an overview of different styles/formats used to reference and what tools are available to manage and use your references. Use the menu on the left to find out more.

Always remember that good referencing and citation will help you avoid plagiarism. Check out your subject guide or faculty handbook for specific advice on referencing.

There may be some terminology used in referencing that you are not used to, so we defined a few of those terms below.

Bibliography and Reference List

A list of all the resources that have been cited in a piece of written work. They appear at the end of your work and contain the information (such as author and date) of the resources to help them be found. Sometimes the Bibliography and Reference List are used interchangeably. However you may also find that a bibliography refers to all the works you have consulted to write an assignment, while a list of references may just refer to the works you have cited in the text. Your department/faculty, Director of Studies and/or supervisors will let you know which you are expected to produce.

In-text citation (sometimes referred to as citation)

Anything you include in your work should have an in-text citation. The in-text citation has brief information, this can be surname(s) and year or a number depending on your referencing style. The full information will be available in your Bibliography or Reference list.


Information that helps you find a book, article or other resource that has been recommended by a member of academic staff or you have found in a bibliography. It is also the information that you need to provide at the end of a piece of written work to demonstrate where you have got ideas and/or quotes from so that others can trace your research.

Reference management software

this software helps you manage your readings and automatically generate in-text references and bibliographies in Word. We describe two free products: Zotero and Mendeley.

Reference styles

In-text citations and bibliographies can be written in different ways according to discipline and the preference of an academic community. Some faculties/departments might prefer students to use a particular style in their assignments. It is important that you are consistent throughout your assignment, so only use one style.

For more information see: How do I reference and avoid plagiarism?

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