Referencing guide at the University of Manchester: Home


The information contained within these pages is intended as a general referencing guideline.

Please check with your supervisor to ensure that you are following the specific guidelines required by your school.

What is referencing?

Referencing is a vital part of the academic writing process. It allows you to:

  • acknowledge the contribution that other authors have made to the development of your arguments and concepts.
  • inform your readers of the sources of quotations, theories, datasets etc that you've referred to, and enable them to find the sources quickly and easily themselves.
  • demonstrate that you have understood particular concepts proposed by other writers while developing your own ideas.
  • provide evidence of the depth and breadth of your own reading on a subject.

What is a reference list?

This is your list of all the sources that have been cited in the text of your work. The reference list includes all the books, e-books, journals, websites etc. in one list at the end of your document.

How the reference list appears will vary according to the referencing style you are using. For example. if you are using the Harvard style the list will be in alphabetical order but in the Vancouver style the reference list would be in numerical order and each number matches and refers to the reference cited in the text

What is a bibliography?

The bibliograhpy includes items which you have consulted for your work but not cited in the main body of your text. The list should appear at the end of your piece of work after the list of references. This demonstrates to the reader (examiner) the unused research you carried out.

Always check with your School if you need to produce a bibliography.

When to cite?

Whenever you quote, paraphrase or make use of another person’s work in your own writing, you must indicate this in the body of your work (a citation) and provide full details of the source in a reference list (all the sources you have referred to directly in your work) or a bibliography (all the sources you have read in the course of your research, not just those you have cited).   

Your reference list should include details of all the books, journal articles, websites and any other material you have used.

You do not need to reference:

  • your own ideas and observations
  • information regarded as ‘common knowledge’
  • your conclusions (where you are pulling together ideas already discussed and cited in the main body of your work).

Understanding when to cite references is an important part of your academic progression.

How to cite?

The way that you cite references will depend on the referencing style you are using. There are many different referencing styles and you must ensure that you are following the appropriate style when submitting your work.

Check with your course handbook or supervisor to be sure that you are following the specific guidelines required by your school.

Commonly used referencing styles at The University of Manchester include Harvard, APA, MHLA, MLA and Vancouver.

If you are submitting work for publication in books or journals, publishers’ websites will provide guidance on which referencing style you should follow.

Reference management software such as EndNote can help you in managing your references and formatting them correctly.

These referencing pages will provide you with a useful introduction to the principles of referencing in various styles.

My Learning Essentials

Citing it right: introducing referencing
What is referencing, and why do you need to do it? This online resource explores the principles behind referencing, highlighting why it is good academic practice and outlining when and how you need to reference your work.

Better safe than sorry: proofreading your work
Proofreading is a crucial step before submitting any piece of work; it is your opportunity to check that you have answered the question fully, that your writing is clear and easy for the reader to understand, and that there aren't any mistakes or inaccuracies in your work.

This resource explores three vital elements to review when proofreading - flow, clarity and accuracy - and gives you a chance to learn about and apply some techniques to ensure that you check your work properly.

View all workshops and online resources in this area on the
My Learning Essentials webpages.

Avoiding Plagiarism

The University of Manchester defines plagiarism as:

Presenting the ideas, work or words of other people without proper, clear and unambiguous acknowledgement. It also includes ‘self plagiarism’, which occurs where, for example, you submit work that you have presented for assessment on a previous occasion.

Your academic work should be more than summaries of existing theories and ideas; you will be expected to show evidence of independent thought in your writing.

Our Original thinking allowed: avoiding plagiarism online resource explores some of the issues surrounding academic integrity, and will give you some techniques you can use to avoid plagiarism when referring to the work of others.

For further information on University policy, please read the following:

The University of Manchester (2014) Guidance to students on plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice [online]

Further help