In-text citations using the SLU Harvard style

Last changed: 31 January 2024
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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 general term for the styles in which you reference a work or source in the running text by adding a citation reference in parentheses, for example, (Andersson 2019). The practice of where the citation is placed within the text can vary, but the basic rule is that each time you use information from a new source, you should include a citation in the text. The most important thing is to eliminate any doubts about which reference you are referring to in your text and to clearly distinguish between your own reasoning and that of others.

If you're unsure about the guidelines specific to your course, consult your teacher or supervisor.

On this page, you will find instructions for how to reference in the running text according to the SLU Harvard style. The complete references for the sources you cite in your text should also be gathered in a reference list. Learn more about this on the following page:

References in text

Active or passive referencing

In active referencing, you write out the author's name in the main text and place the year of publication in parentheses. This is commonly referred to as active referencing because the author plays an active role in the text.

Example — active reference:

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

In passive referencing, you include the author and the year of publication within parentheses. This is usually referred to as passive referencing because the author takes on 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

If you're referencing a source with two authors, both names should be included in the citation, and an ampersand (&) is used between the names when they are enclosed in parentheses. In an active reference, "and" is used instead of the ampersand symbol.


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

Three or more authors

If the source you are referring to has three or more authors, do not list all the names but use the abbreviation "et al." after the name of the first author instead.


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 use multiple sources by the same author that were published in the same year, you differentiate them by adding a, b, c after the year. This applies even if, for example, an organization or authority is listed as the author. In the reference list, the order of the sources is determined by the titles; the title that comes first alphabetically is assigned the letter a.


  • 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.


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. 

Shorter quotes are included in the text within quotation marks:

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

Longer quotes should be presented as distinct paragraphs, indented from both the right and left margins:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. (Einstein 1931:56)


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 ...