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Academic Skills Online

These online tutorials are designed to help you develop the academic skills you will need whilst studying at Goldsmiths.

Why do I need to reference?


You need to reference when you are: 

  • directly quoting from the text of another work
  • paraphrasing someone else’s work, theories or ideas
  • using someone else’s work when you are developing your own ideas and arguments
  • indirectly referring to the text of other works
  • using film, images, illustrations, diagrams, tables or figures from other sources
Common Knowledge : If a fact is regarded as "common knowledge" you are not required to reference it in your work. This refers to information that is obvious, undisputed and widely known. For example - "Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister of the UK."
"Do I Need to Reference This?" Quiz

See if you can work out whether you would need to reference in these common scenarios. 

How do I reference?

The basic components of referencing are: 

  • In text citations: This is the way of indicating in your text that you are referring to someone else’s work.  The way you do this varies depending on the style you are using.  It may be the author’s name and the date in brackets, for example (Jones, 2012), or a number like this 1  or like this [1], linking to a footnote at the bottom of the page.

  • Bibliography: This is a list at the end of a piece of work which list all the sources you used for your work and can include background reading that may not have been directly referred to in the text.


  • Reference List: This is slightly different from a bibliography in that it only includes references that have been directly cited in the main text of the work. Check your departmental guidelines if unsure whether to use a reference list or a bibliography. 

Name and Date systems

In Name / Date systems the reference is inserted in the text within brackets e.g. (Smith 2018) or (Smith 2018, p.32). These references will correspond with an alphabetical bibliography placed at the end of the piece of work. Precise formatting will vary according to the style guide you choose to follow. 


Harvard Referencing System

There is no standard Harvard method so a number of variations have evolved.  For a simple and straightforward guide we recommend:

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 9th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

There is also an online version: Cite Them Right


APA (American Psychological Association)

This is the style developed by the American Psychological Association for use in their publications and is widely used throughout Psychology. We have printed copies of the full manual in the library:

American Psychological Association. (c2010). Publication manual of the APA. (6th ed.). Washington, DC: APA

You will also find APA style guidance on our online resource Cite Them Right.  


MLA (Modern Language Association)

The main style guide to refer to is:

Modern Language Association of America, (2009) MLA Handbook for writers of research papers.  7th ed.  New York: Modern Language Association of America. 

Footnote systems

In numeric systems the reference is inserted as a number in the text [1] or text ¹ 

1. Reference details are either at the end of the text (endnote) or at the foot of the page (footnote)

Numbers are linked to full references in footnotes or endnotes placed at the bottom of the page or the end of the piece of work. These will also link to a bibliography or reference list. Precise formatting will vary according to the style guide you follow.  

Chicago (Notes and Bibliography version) 

We have printed copies available in the library:

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

There is a useful, basic online version of the Chicago style.

Cite Them Right also has some guidance on Chicago. 


The printed MHRA guide is available in the library:

Modern Humanities Research Association (2013) MHRA style guide: a handbook for authors and editors. (3rd ed). London: Modern Humanities Research Association

You can also download the MHRA guide for free.. In addition the English and Comparative Literature Department at Goldsmiths has also produced a concise ECL MHRA Guide.


IEEE is used by the Computing department at Goldsmiths.  Consult the IEEE's referencing guidelines for how to reference.

Most style guides will include details about how to reference visual resources. Cite Them Right has some useful information on this. 

You may also want to include copies of images in your essay or dissertation. It is good practice to include a caption with these. These can include references to the source where you found the image. The following is a suggested style guide for captions using Chicago. 

The BUFVC has created a useful guide to help with referencing audiovisual resources.