Is referencing properly essential? Yes!

Referencing is an essential skill for you to pass your qualification. Knowing when and where to reference and doing this properly will save you a lot of work, time and frustration. If you are not sure when and where to reference, make sure you have a look at this page on here. It’s a good introduction:

Harvard referencing in MS Word

If you struggle with Harvard referencing, using MS Word for this task is something to look into. It takes a little time and effort to get used to and to know where everything is, but once it’s set up and you’re used to it, it may streamline your referencing. If nothing else, it will make it easier as it’s asking for all the information that needs to go into a reference within the tool.
So let’s see how this works…

Setting up MS Word for referencing

  • You only need to do this once and
  • There’s only one step for this!

Step 1

  • First of all, open MS Word of course, or the document you are working on.
  • Navigate to ‘References’ in the ribbon at the top.
  • Then click on the ‘Style’ drop down list and select ‘Harvard’ – that’s done!

Starting to use this tool – entering references

You would normally do this while you are writing your notes, researching etc…

  • Don’t wait to start referencing until you have completed your writing but do this during the research phase and when you plan what you are going to write. That way you will find it much easier at the end.
  • Going back through your work and finding all those sources you got the information from again is no fun!


Step 2

Then, it’s time to start entering reference information. Do this as you go along and whenever you find a resource you are going to use. This is something you only need to do once for each of the references you use throughout the qualification or the piece of work you are doing, if you use the same computer or laptop throughout. You can use the list of references you enter over and over again without entering the information again.

  • Click on ‘Manage Sources’ and then ‘New’.

Step 3

On the screen that opens:

  • Choose the kind of resource you are going to reference.
  • For the sake of this guide we’ll use the website. So for this, we obviously need to choose ‘Website’.

Step 4

  • Then, enter all the details for the reference and click ‘OK’.

Step 5

On the ‘Source Manager’ screen that opens you need to then ‘activate’ the reference you just entered for the document you are writing.

  • This will create a list of references for the piece of work you are working on and will make writing the bibliography at the end a doddle.
  • Do this every time you enter a new reference or source.

Let’s go…

  • Click on the reference in the list of the left. It will highlight in blue.
  • Then click on ‘Copy’ in the middle.
  • You will see the reference pop up in the list on the right, which means it’s part of the references for the piece you are writing at the moment.
  • Click ‘Close’ at the bottom.

Using the references you entered

We can now start using the reference(s) you entered above. There are two ways you will need to use referencing:

  • Referencing in text.
  • Building a bibliography or a list of references at the bottom of your piece of work.

The referencing tool in MS Word will make this very straightforward and easy. Let’s see how this works in step 6…

Step 6

To insert a reference ‘in text’:

  • Put your cursor in the text where you want to enter the reference.
  • Click on ‘Insert Citation’.
  • In the list that pops up, select the reference you want to use.

You will see the ‘in text reference’ pop up in the right format. It’s like magic!

Step 7

If you are referencing from a book or multi-page document or .pdf file, then there is one more step to take. Do this if you are using a direct quotation from a particular page or pages in the reference.

To enter the pages you referenced from:

  • Click on the reference and a box will pop up, as shown below.
  • Click on the little arrow on the right hand side and a box will pop up.
  • In there, enter the page(s) you used and click ‘OK’.

The format you normally use for pages is:

  • If you used two subsequent pages: 1,2
  • If you used a range of subsequent pages: 1-5

This is all you need to do for ‘in text’ references. Easy, isn’t it?
On to creating a bibliography or list of references…

Creating a bibliography or list of references at the bottom

When you have written up all you have to write and before you send it to your assessor, it’s time to create a bibliography or list of references. Only do this right at the end!
This is created from the references you shortlisted in Step 5 and it’s very easy.

Step 8

  • Put the cursor where you want to create the bibliography, normally at the bottom of your piece of work.
  • In ‘References’ in the ribbon right at the top, click on ‘Bibliography’ and a list with options will pop up.
  • Select either ‘Bibliography’ or ‘References’. References is a bit broader and in my view more appropriate for level 6 work.

The list of references or bibliography will then ‘magically’ pop up where you put your mouse cursor. That’s how easy it is! In the next step, we’ll make it look a bit better…

Step 9

The list you get may not look perfect. Sometimes a reference is split up over several lines when it’s not needed, for instance.

  • Clean up the list of references to make it look good. But don’t change any of the text.

There’s one more easy step to take…

Step 10

… bullet pointing the list.

It’s not necessary but I think it looks better. If your assessor or organization you take your qualification through prefers you not to, then don’t take this step of course. Even when they tell you not to use bullet points in your work, then this could be ok as it’s not an integral part of your writing.

  • Select the entire list of references
  • Click on the bullet point tool at the top



Useful links

There are many, many sources of information online, to help with Harvard referencing ‘in text’ and for creating bibliographies. Feel free to explore but it’s important to realise that I cannot be held responsible for the content of external websites or any of the external links on this website.

Online resources and reference pages:

Online Harvard reference generators:

Be careful with these as they can generate differences.