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Academic Writing

How to Reference

There are several referencing systems. These differ in two ways: in the format of the references and in the location of the references. Different faculties, departments and even lecturers will generally have preferences about how you should reference and you should seek these out before submitting your assignment. Usually information about this can be found in your course outline, Faculty handbook or by asking your lecturer or department.

While lecturers may not agree on how they want assignments referenced, they do agree that acknowledging sources is extremely important, and that consistency in referencing format you adopt is essential.

Remember, no matter what referencing system you adopt, you must use it consistently and correctly throughout your whole piece of writing.

In-text referencing incorporates information on the author of the material cited and the date of publication within the body of the text. Full bibliographic information for each of the sources referred to is provided in a reference list at the end of the assignment. The advantage of this style of referencing is that the source of the information is immediately accessible for the reader, however, a disadvantage of this system is that the references may interrupt the flow of the text. A style of in-text referencing is the Harvard or author-date system.

In contrast, the notation system places reference information either at the bottom of the page (footnotes), or at the end of the text (endnotes). Footnotes and endnotes require the reader to look outside the body of the text for the reference, yet they also provide all the information for the source with the footnote unlike in-text references. Notation style references have the added advantage of NOT disrupting the flow of the text.

Compare the three methods of referencing in the essay below. Click on each column to expand your view of each version of the essay.


Note: In a longer piece of writing the difference between footnotes and endnotes would be more obvious than it appears here. The footnotes referring to each page would reside at the bottom of that page while endnotes for every reference in the whole piece of writing would reside at the completion point of that text.

The reference list below would be attached at the end of each version of the essay regardless of the system of referencing used.

Reference List

Gledhill, P.W., Camperdown Churchyard, Church Street Newtown: An Appeal for the Restoration and Upkeep of the Historic Cemetery, The Board of Trustees, Camperdown Cemetery, Newtown, 1927.

Lucas, C. (updated 10 December, 1999, accessed 10 May, 1999), State Heritage, State Heritage Inventory - Item View, http://www.interimtechnology.com.au/herit/item.html

King, M., Prominent Australians and Importance of Camperdown Cemetery, NSW, Albert Holmes, Newtown, 1934.

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