How to reference a book in Harvard style

To reference a book in Harvard style, you need an in-text citation and a corresponding entry in your reference list or bibliography.

A basic book reference looks like this:

Reference templateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title. City: Publisher.
Reference exampleSzalay, D. (2017) All that man is. London: Vintage.
In-text citation example(Szalay, 2017, p. 24)

Edition or volume of a book

If the book you’re citing is a second or later edition (i.e. when the edition is stated on the title page or cover), specify this in your reference. Abbreviate ‘edition’ to ‘edn’ or ‘revised edition’ to ‘rev ed’.

Harvard referencing: Edition of a book
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title. Edition edn. City: Publisher.
ExamplePears, R. and Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: The essential referencing guide. 11th edn. London: MacMillan.

When referencing a book published in multiple volumes, include the total number of volumes in your reference.

Harvard referencing: Multi-volume book
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title (number of volumes vols). City: Publisher.
ExampleLeggiere, M. V. (2015) Napoleon and the struggle for Germany: The Franco-Prussian war of 1813 (2 vols). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

If you’re just referencing one volume, omit the total number but include the number and subtitle of the particular volume you’re referencing as part of the title.

Harvard referencing: Single volume of a multi-volume book
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title. City: Publisher.
ExampleLeggiere, M. V. (2015) Napoleon and the struggle for Germany: The Franco-Prussian war of 1813. Vol. 2: The defeat of Napoleon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edited or translated book

If a book specifies an editor and/or translator, this information should be included in the reference.


When a book has an editor in addition to the main author, the editor’s name is included later in the reference.

Harvard referencing: Book with author and editor
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title. Edited by Editor surname, initial. City: Publisher.
ExampleAlcott, L. M. (2008) Little women. Edited by Alderson, V. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

When the editor is the main author (i.e. when it’s their name on the cover), their name comes first. Use “ed.” for a single editor and “eds.” if there are multiple editors.

If you use a specific chapter or work from an edited collection, follow the format for referencing a book chapter instead.

Harvard referencing: Editor as author
TemplateEditor surname, initial. (ed./eds.) (Year) Book title. City: Publisher.
ExampleDanielson, D. (ed.) (1989) The Cambridge companion to Milton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


When you reference a book that has been translated from another language, include the original language and the translator’s name.

Unlike other names, the translator’s name is not inverted: the initial comes first.

Harvard referencing: Translated book
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title. Translated from the Language by Translator initial and last name. City: Publisher.
ExampleNádas, P. (1998) A book of memories. Translated from the Hungarian by I. Sanders and I. Goldstein. London: Vintage.

Book chapter

If a book contains chapters or works by various different authors, such as a collection of essays or an anthology of short stories, reference the specific chapter or work, followed by details of the book.

The chapter title appears in quotation marks, while the book title is italicized. At the end of the reference, specify the page range on which the chapter appears.

If a book is entirely written by one author, always reference the whole book, even if you only discuss one chapter.

Harvard referencing: Book chapter
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) ‘Chapter title’, in Editor surname, initial. (ed./eds.) Book title. City: Publisher, pp. page range
ExampleGreenblatt, S. (2010) ‘The traces of Shakespeare’s life’, in De Grazia, M. and Wells, S. (eds.) The new Cambridge companion to Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–14.

Dictionary or encyclopedia

Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works very often don’t list specific authors. In these cases, they are cited and referenced using their titles in the author position:

Harvard referencing: Dictionary (no author)
TemplateBook title (Year) Edition edn. City: Publisher.
ExampleCollins English dictionary (2019) 8th edn. Glasgow: Collins.
In-text citation(Collins English dictionary, 2019, p. 45)

Where a reference work does have an author, it can be referenced like a normal book. Where different sections of a reference work are attributed to different authors, they can be referenced like chapters in an edited book.


When an ebook is presented like a printed book, with page numbers and publication details included, you can reference it in the same format as you would the print version.

Otherwise, the ebook format differs slightly: Include a link to where you found or purchased it online instead of publisher information. This link is generally just to the store or database you used, not the specific book.

In addition, in-text citations will have to use something other than page numbers when necessary, such as a percentage or location number. Use whatever marker is available on your device.

Harvard referencing: Ebook
TemplateAuthor surname, initial. (Year) Book title. Available at: URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).
ExampleLe Guin, U. K. (2017) The left hand of darkness. Available at: (Accessed: 8 May 2020).
In-text citation example(Le Guin, 2017, 85%)

Frequently asked questions about Harvard referencing

When do I need to use a Harvard in-text citation?

A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.

The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.

When should I include page numbers in a Harvard in-text citation?

In Harvard style, when you quote directly from a source that includes page numbers, your in-text citation must include a page number. For example: (Smith, 2014, p. 33).

You can also include page numbers to point the reader towards a passage that you paraphrased. If you refer to the general ideas or findings of the source as a whole, you don’t need to include a page number.

How do I cite a source with multiple authors in Harvard style?

In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘et al.

In-text citationReference list
1 author(Smith, 2014)Smith, T. (2014) …
2 authors(Smith and Jones, 2014)Smith, T. and Jones, F. (2014) …
3 authors(Smith, Jones and Davies, 2014)Smith, T., Jones, F. and Davies, S. (2014) …
4+ authors(Smith et al., 2014)Smith, T. et al. (2014) …


How do I cite multiple sources by the same author published in the same year?

In Harvard style referencing, to distinguish between two sources by the same author that were published in the same year, you add a different letter after the year for each source:

  • (Smith, 2019a)
  • (Smith, 2019b)

Add ‘a’ to the first one you cite, ‘b’ to the second, and so on. Do the same in your bibliography or reference list.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

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