My Information Skills

Self-paced tutorials on research and study skills for TAFE SA students

Referencing styles

There are many different ways, or styles, to write a reference or citation. 

Each referencing style has a very specific set pattern and format for you to follow as you describe your source. The reference is not correct unless you use the correct punctuation and order of details.

Some of the most commonly used styles include:

Within a style there may be variations in formatting between different learning institutions. It is best to use the guides provided by the institution you are studying with.

Be consistent, and do not mix referencing styles in the one assignment.


Numeric styles

Numeric styles use superscript arabic numerals (numbers) in the body of the text as an in-text citation. For example:

According to Fitzgerald 5, the Elnino Effect is responsible for...

This superscript numeral is linked to a numbered note either at the bottom of that page (footnotes) or to a note at the end of the assignment, chapter or book (endnotes). 

These styles may also be called numerical or note or documentary-note styles.

Chicago style and Vancouver style are both numeric referencing styles.

Most TAFE SA students will be asked to use a Harvard (author-date) style. Check with your lecturer for the style that you need to use.


Author-date styles

Author-date styles use an in-text citation to briefly cite the author and year within parentheses (round brackets) in the body of the work, followed by full details in end-text citations at the end of the work.

Example in-text citations:

'According to Fitzgerald (2005), the Elnino Effect is responsible for...'


The Elnino Effect is responsible for..... (Fitzgerald 2005).

Every in-text citation must be linked to an end-text citation in the reference list or bibliography.


End-text citations:

  • are placed at the end of your work

  • give all the necessary information for your reader to find the source themselves

  • are generally listed together on a separate page in a list called a reference list or bibliography.

We will look at reference lists in greater detail later in this tutorial.

Example in-text reference using the Harvard (author-date) style: 

Sustainability is important because we will not survive if we continue as we are (Steinfeld et al. 2006).

The linking end-citation will be in the reference list:

Steinfeld, H, Gerber, P, Wassenaar, T, Castel, V, Rosales, M & deHaan, C 2006, Livestock's long shadow: environmental issues and options, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, viewed 20 February 2012, <>.