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Write it Right - A guide to Harvard referencing style

Date of publication

  • The date of publication of the work usually appears on the verso (back) of the title page of the work (the imprint page).
  • If no date is given for a publication, use an approximate date following the examples below:
Publication date unknown or uncertain Example of convention to use
one or the other date is correct (1993 or 1994)
the probable date 1994?
the approximate date c. 1994
when the decade is known but not the year 199-
When there is no knowledge of the date at all (sine anno/no date) s.a. or n.d.

Place of Publication

  • The place of publication is given in the language in which you are writing, for example, English or Gaeilge.
  •  If there is more than one place of publication given give only the first place.
  • If no place can be traced, the abbreviation s.l. (sine loco) is used.
  • The place of publication is the town/city. However, for the United States of America, the State should also be included. See the table below for the abbreviations to be used.
State Abbreviation State Abbreviation State Abbreviation
Alabama Ala. Kentucky Ky. Ohio Oh
Alaska Ak. Louisiana La. Oklahoma Okla.
Arizona Ariz. Maine Me. Oregon Oreg.
Arkansas Ark. Maryland Md. Pennsylvania Pa.
California Calif. Massachusetts Mass. Rhode Island R.I.
Colorado Colo. Michigan Mich. South Carolina S.C.
Connecticut Conn. Minnesota Minn. South Dakota S.D.
Delaware Del. Mississippi Miss. Tennessee Tenn.
District of Columbia D.C. Missouri Mo. Texas Tex.
Florida Fla. Montana Mont. Utah Ut.
Georgia Ga. Nebraska Nebr. Vermont Vt.
Hawaii Hi. New Hampshire N.H. Virginia Va.
Idaho Id. New Jersey N.J. Washington Wash.
Illinois Ill. New Mexico N.Mex. West Virginia W.Va.
Indiana Ind. New York N.Y. Wisconsin Wis.
Iowa Ia. North Carolina N.C. Wyoming Wyo.
Kansas Kans. North Dakota N.D.    


  • A colon (:) separates the place of publication and the publisher, e.g. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
  • If no publisher is given, the abbreviation s.n. (sine nomino) may be used.
  • Initials of publishers are usually omitted. E.g J. Wiley is referenced as Wiley.
  • Initials are only used if it is necessary to distinguish between different publishers, e.g. W.H. Allen and J.A. Allen.


  • Note that the titles of published works are always italicised.
  • For journals, the title of the journal is always italicised.
  • The title of a journal article is never italicised.
  • The title of a journal must not be abbreviated. For example, the British Medical Journal is not abbreviated to BMJ.
  • Only the first word and proper nouns of a journal article title begin with an upper case letter.
  • All relevant words of the journal title begin with an upper case letter.
  • Where there is no author, use the title as the main entry.

Acronyms and initials

  • Examples are EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), HSE (Health Service Executive) and so on. These must appear both in-text and in the reference list.
  • If a work contains numerous references to a particular resource with a long title, for example, Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the initials may be used e.g. ISPCC, EPA, HSE. Other examples are USA, UK,
  • The first citation in-text must include both the full title and the acronym or initials, and thereafter the acronym and initials will suffice. Write these without full stops.
The Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) provides activities which are child centered, placing the child as the key focus of practice. This is based on the belief that ‘all children have the right to access support services’. (ISPCC 2011).

In the reference list, both the long title and the acronym or initials must be included, for example:

Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) (2011), About us [online], available: [accessed 28 February 2011].


A specific form of capitalisation may be required by your lecturer in the reference list.

Minimal capitalisation
  • Only the first word in the titles of books, chapters and journal articles is capitalised.
  • Authors’ names and initials, journal titles and publishing firm names are always capitalised.
  • If the title of the article, book or chapter contains a colon, only capitalise if the first word after the colon is a proper name. For example:
  • Frame, T.R. (2009) Evolution in the antipodes: Charles Darwin and Australia, Sydney : UNSW Press

For journal titles use maximal capitalisation.

Maximal capitalisation
  • For titles of periodicals (journals, magazines and newspapers), capitalise the first word and also any other word which is not ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’, a preposition (such as ‘for’, ‘on’, ‘under’, ‘about’) or a conjunction (such as ‘and’,‘but’, ‘or’).
Minimal capitalisation                                                                                                                                                                                      
Odum, H.T. (2007) Environment, power, and society for the twenty-first century: the hierarchy of energy, New York N.Y.: Columbia University Press.

Maximal capitalisation                                                                                                                                                                                    
Marsh W.M. (2010) The New User Environment: The End of Technical Services, Information Technology and Libraries, 29 (2) pp. 93-100.

The Library, Limerick Institute of Technology