In-text citations using the SLU Harvard style

Last changed: 03 January 2023
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This page contains instructions on how to create in-text citations using the SLU Harvard style.

General advice on in-text citations

Harvard is a generic term for any reference style where the in-text reference is set within parenthesis, such as (Andersson 2019). The established practice is to add an in-text citation every time you use information from a new source. What is most important is that there is never any doubt about what source you refer to, and that you clearly show the reader what is your own thoughts and what you've gathered from other sources.

The following examples shows how to insert citations in your paper. Additional examples are available from University of Borås: Guide till Harvardsystemet (in Swedish only).

For an introduction to the Harvard system in English, see the Anglia Ruskin University guide.

If you are unsure about the citation practice at your department, talk to your teacher or supervisor.

Active or passive referencing 

When using the Harvard style you can place the reference in the beginning of a sentence by naming the author in text and putting the publication year in parentheses. This is usually called an active reference, because the author has an active role in the text.

Example — active reference

  • The fictional writer Stephen King (2000) argues that to become a writer you must both read and write a lot.

You can also put the author and publication year in parentheses at the end of the sentence, just before the period. This is usually called a passive reference, because the author has a passive role in the text.

Example — passive reference

  • The structure of the European Union is often described in the shape of three pillars (Tallberg 2004).

Two authors

Both author names should be included in the citation. When the citation is put in parentheses, use an ampersand (&) between the two names. In an active reference the & is replaced by "and".


  • Andersson and Svensson (2019) found that birds in the area...
  • ... has shown that the two fenomenons correlate (Smith & Johnsson 2010)

Three or more authors

If a citation refers to a work by three or more authors, use the abbreviation "et al." after the first author instead of writing all the names.


To cite a paper written by Hunter, Smith and Johnsson:   

  • According to Hunter et al. (2011)... 
  • ... problem-based approach was successful (Hunter et al. 2011).

Multiple works by the same author published in the same year

If you are citing an author that has published several works in the same year, you can differentiate the various works by adding a, b, c after the year.


  • Nilsson and Carlsson (1998a) ... in Nilsson and Carlsson (1998b) on the contrary ...

Citing multiple sources supporting the same idea

If you want to cite multiple sources with similar information, e.g. for supporting the same idea, you separate the references with semicolon and list them chronologically.


  • Several studies have shown that ... (Andersson 2014; Svensson 2016).

Citing a secondary source

If possible, always cite the original source. Occasionally this is not possible and you are obliged to use a secondary source that cites the original source. In this case both sources should be included in the citation. The original source should be cited first, followed by the work you actually have read. In the reference list you include the source you have used.


To cite Doyle (1994) that you have read in Rader (1996):  

  • (Doyle 1994 see Rader 1996)

Referring to specific pages

The general recommendation is to always include page numbers for quotes. You can also refer to specific pages in other types of references to make it easier for the reader to find the source. Ask your supervisor or teacher if you are unsure of the practice at your department.


To cite one page  

  • (Nilsson & Carlsson 1998a:12)  

To cite several consecutive pages  

  • (Jansson et al. 2010:12–18)  

To cite different pages from the same source 

  • Landgren (2017:12, 18)  


Quotes should be reproduced exactly as they are and the reference should include the page number in the work cited. 

Short quotes can be put in the text within quotation marks.

  • "When traits are determined by many genes, usually in concert with environmental factors, they are referred to as quantitative traits" (Hartl 1988:5)

Longer quotes should be included as a separate paragraph indented from the right and left margins.


et al.

Abbreviation for the Latin expression "et alia" meaning "with others". Commonly used when there are three authors or more. 


  • (Jansson et al. 2010)


Abbreviation for the Latin expression "ibidem" meaning "in the same place". Can be used if you cite the same source several times within a paragraph and don’t want to repeat the reference. Note that no other source must appear between the citations when you use ibid.


  • Furthermore, the authors claim that the Eurasian Curlew avoids humans (ibid.).


Abbreviation for "No date". Used when citing a source that lacks a publishing date.


  • Nilsson and Carlsson (n.d.) suggests ...