Difference between APA and Harvard Referencing Styles

Are you trying to spot the difference between APA and Harvard referencing styles? If yes, then you can go through this article to get a detailed explanation of this topic.

“A good research paper must be made as per MLA referencing styles with appropriate in-text citations”. You may have heard similar statements quite often. In college life, students having to work on different types of assignments. They can be essay, assignment, dissertation or research paper, referencing of the credible resources is necessary. Moreover, failure in the proper accreditation of the credible resources inevitably leads to an unethical copyright infringement act also known as Plagiarism.

If you’re producing an essay pertaining to a certain institution or departments then, you should ensure that you’re well aware of the referencing style used by the system. As mentioned above, there are many referencing styles used in the academic papers as follows: APA i.e, American Psychological Association, MLA i.e, Modern Language Association, Chicago, Harvard, and Vancouver. Despite the fact that all of the styles are mutually aimed at rendering a professional formal format to the writing piece, there are differences in the styles. Do you want to know more about these styles? Our AllAssignmentHelp.co.uk experts explain the difference as follows:


 The major difference between the referencing styles is through its domain. The MLA citation format as depicted by the name is predominantly used in the realms of arts and humanities. The APA style is frequently used within the social sciences. However, the Harvard referencing style is used in the humanities and natural or social sciences.

In-text Citations

 The MLA system makes use of the in-text citations rather than the endnotes or footnotes. The core elements involved in the parenthetical system or the in-text citations of MLA are written in the following order: Author’s surname followed by the page number you’re referring to, for example (Kennedy, p.15). Moreover, the references are separated by the semi-colon if you intend to quote the reference of more than one author. On the other hand, the parenthetical system of APA involves the author’s surname and the year of the publication for example (Kennedy, 2015). Moreover, the parenthetical system of Harvard is the same as the APA style. In addition to that, the APA makes use of the commas to separate the material in the in-text citations, whereas, the MLA format doesn’t use the commas. Let’s give a detailed look to citing the authors in the different formats:


 If there is one author then the last name of the author with the publication year is inserted. Similarly, if two authors then link the names with an ampersand followed by the publication year. However, if more than three authors are involved then only the first author is cited followed by the et al. (which means and others) and year. Moreover, more than one work is cited within the single parenthesis with the semi-colons.


 If the work with multiple authors is cited, the author’s last name is included in the parenthetical citation. However, if it has three or more authors then, the name of the first author is followed by et.al


 When a work of 2 to 3 authors is cited, the names appear in the same order as that of reference. However, the word “and” is used instead of an ampersand. Similar to the APA style, if the work has 4 or more authors, the surname of the first author is cited along with the et al.

Source Page

In the APA Referencing System, the listing of the references is indicated by the term “References”, whereas, in the Harvard referencing system, it is referred to as “References List”. On the other hand, the “Works Cited” page is used to list the references down in MLA format. If you’re encountering difficulties in generating the references, you can avail the assistance of the online reference generators.


 In the APA style of referencing, the first word of the subtitle, title and the proper nouns are only capitalized. Moreover, the title is also written in italics. On the other hand, all the major words in the title of the source are capitalized in MLA style.

Author’s name

 The author’s last name is only written in the APA style and the first name is written as the initials, whereas, the author’s complete first and last name is written in the MLA referencing. The Harvard referencing style is similar to that of APA.Do you also encounter problems to find the difference between APA and Harvard and MLA referencing style? Alleviate your worries! You aren’t alone facing that confusion. If you’re facing difficulties in creating the top-quality assignments with the referencing according to the requirements, don’t worry! You can easily hire assignment experts and avail their assistance to pass with flying grades. These writing services have professional and dexterous writers possessing the ability to handle difficult topics and apply any referencing style. Moreover, they work according to the requirements stipulated in the order. Hire them and ease your life!

Now, that we have talked about the difference between APA and Harvard, let’s get versed with other referencing styles as well:

Types of Referencing Styles

Chicago style

The Chicago Manual of Style, currently in its 16th edition, was created to help researchers properly cite their sources. There are two types of referencing styles in Chicago: 1) Notes and Bibliography and 2) Author-Date.

This guide displays the Notes and Bibliography style of referencing and is not associated with the official publishers of the style. If a source is used more than once in a research project, follow these guidelines: – When used again, instead of writing out the complete citation for a second time in the footnote, only include: the author’s last name, the title or a phrase for the title if it’s more than four words, and the page number that were used. This will reduce the bulk of citation information in the paper.

The notes and bibliography system is preferred by many working in the humanities—including literature, history, and the arts. In this system, sources are cited in numbered footnotes or endnotes. Each note corresponds to a raised number in the text. Sources are also usually listed in a separate bibliography. The notes and bibliography system can accommodate a wide variety of sources, including unusual ones that don’t fit neatly into the author-date system.

MHRA referencing

MHRA referencing is a style of referencing developed by the Modern Humanities Research Association. It is intended primarily for use in connection with books and journals published by the Association but is also used in a wider context by students.

Footnotes are of key importance to the MHRA referencing style. You should insert footnote numbers in your text every time you quote or paraphrase another person’s words or ideas. When referring to a source for the first time, you need to provide the full details in the footnote. After that, references can be provided in an abbreviated form.

You’ll also need to provide a full bibliography at the end of the essay, which needs to be carefully formatted according to the type of material you’ve cited – be it a book, journal, website, film or anything else. The bibliography only needs to include material that you’ve directly cited in your work.

Formatting the Bibliography

Arrange alphabetically. If there is more than one source by the same author arrange by authors last name then in alphabetical order of the title, disregarding words such as an, a, the.

Do not use a full stop at the end of each reference. The name of the first listed author or a source is inverted so that the surname appears first. When a source has multiple authors only the name of the first listed author is inverted. Arrange sources with no author alphabetically by title.

Oxford referencing

Your Reference List should be located on a separate page at the end of your essay and titled: Reference List. It should include the details of all your footnotes, arranged alphabetically A-Z by author surname, click on the ‘Sample Reference List’ tab above for more details. The terms ‘Bibliography’ and ‘Reference List’ are often used interchangeably, however, a Reference List only includes items you have referenced in your assignment whereas a Bibliography also includes items used to prepare your assignment. Check with your lecturer or tutor which one they require. 

Direct quotes under 30 words are included in the body of your essay enclosed in single inverted commas and followed immediately with a superscript number that refers to a footnote at the bottom of your page, of style is regarded as anything that is practical, informal and casual’.

If a direct quote is 30 words or more it is called a blockquote. For block quotes, omit the quotation marks, start the quote as a new paragraph on a new line and indent the whole quote 1 cm from the left-hand margin of the page. Don’t indent from the right-hand margin. Introduce the quote with a colon. As a rule block quotes should be used sparingly in your essay. As for a short quote, a superscript number is inserted immediately after the quote.

Vancouver referencing

You should always use an in-text citation when you are paraphrasing or directly quoting someone else’s work. In Vancouver style referencing and citation, in-text citations are indicated by Arabic numerals (1,2, 3, 4, 5,6,7,8,9). Each reference should be given a unique number that corresponds to the order in which it is cited. When the same work is referenced more than once, use the same number each time.

The placement of the number within the text is up to the individual author or journal. Numbers can be placed within the text, or at the end before or after the period. Brackets or parentheses are both fine. Superscripts can also be used. Just make sure you remain consistent throughout your paper.

The final page of your work should be titled “References” and list all of your sources in the order they are cited in the text. A complete list of guidelines can be found here. For now, some key items to keep in mind are: 

  • Books and journal names should not be italicized or placed in quotation marks. Journal titles are abbreviated. You can find a guide to these abbreviations.
  • The symbol “&” should never be used between author names.
  • You should only use a capital letter for the first word of a sentence and words that are usually capitalized.
  • Page numbers should be abbreviated to “p”. For example, pages 12-37 would be written as p. 12-37.
  • In the reference list, “et al” should only be used when there are more than six authors. In this case, list the first three authors followed by “et al”.

Hope, this article serves the purpose of explaining the difference between APA and Harvard to you.