Harvard Zitierweise

Harvard Citation Style – Guidance, Examples & Pro Tips

Were you also advised in college to cite according to Harvard style? Then you’ve come to the right place. We explain this popular method of citing sources and guide you through the system once by way of example.

Definition: This is the Harvard way of citation

Strictly speaking, there is not THE one Harvard citation at all. Rather, it is about a particular overarching citation type that can encompass different directions. In Wikipedia, by the way, this kind of citation is called“author-year citation style” – and in essence, this already describes a special feature of this style.

This is because the source reference in these citation styles is in parentheses in the text and usually includes the author’s last name(s) and the year of publication. This short reference clearly assigns a source from the bibliography to the citation. In addition, page numbers are given whenever possible, both for indirect and direct citations. Indirect citations, i.e. paraphrases, are marked with a “cf.

How to cite according to Harvard citation style

If we follow the style that Citavi experts have identified as typical of Harvard citations, the following guidelines emerge:

No distinction is made between first and subsequent citation but the short reference in the text for a particular work always looks the same. The last name of the author and the year are mentioned, not separated by a comma. If there are two authors, both are mentioned, if there are three or more, only the first name is mentioned with an “et al. According to Citavi, page numbers are separated from the rest of the information with a comma and noted as a pure number without the reference “p.”.

Other guides, however, recommend a colon to separate page numbers. Some use the page “S.”

Whatever direction you decide to go, you should follow through with a system consistently. Precisely because there are so many Harvard-style options, consistency is an important quality criterion here.

Source citation in the bibliography

In the bibliography, you only include sources that have been cited directly or indirectly, according to the Harvard method. Works that you have “only” read, without mentioning them, do not find entry. The bibliography is sorted alphabetically by the authors’ last names according to the Harvard method. If you include more than one work by the same author, the older work will be listed first.

There is no italic or bold highlighting (at least in the Citavi version) and there is a period at the end of each “item” in the bibliography. Below we explain how the sources should look like in the bibliography. We sort by source type, of course you don’t have to do that in your bibliography. You sort all sources alphabetically, unless your instructors/university want something else, for example a separation between print and online media.

The following explanations are based on the Citavi guide. As with the short references, there are certainly other directions within the Harvard citation, which, for example, place a colon instead of a period after the year of publication. Here, as with the short references, a uniform solution must be found. Sometimes there are also recommendations from the university, the institute or your lecturers, which you should then follow.

Monograph / whole book

If you want to include whole books in the bibliography, you also need the title of the book, the place of publication and the publisher, in addition to the authorship and the year of publication. If the book is something other than the first edition, include that as well.

If there are multiple publication locations, you use a slash ( / ) after the Citavi recommendations to separate them.

Brühl, Rolf (2017). How science creates knowledge: philosophy and ethics of science for the social and economic sciences. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, UVK Verlag.

Essay in an anthology / Individual chapters

In the case of essays in anthologies, the author of the work is at the front and is also cited in the short reference. As year of publication you enter the year of publication of the anthology and you add an “In:” after the title of the essay. This is then followed by the details of the anthology. You give the names of the editors and also mark them with an “ed.” in brackets. Note: Here you write “first name last name”, not “last name, first name” as for authors. You also specify the place of publication, the publisher’s name and the page numbers of the article.

Kuchler, Daniel (2017). Arendt, Power and Information: On Digitally Enabling Republican Participation. In: Daniel Jacob, Thorsten Thiel (Eds.). Political Theory and Digitization. Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlag, 161-188.

Contribution from professional magazines / journals

Articles from professional journals and especially studies are often cited in final papers and term papers. According to the Harvard system, you enter the name of the journal, the year (volume) and the issue number in parentheses. You also need the page numbers here.

Meyen, Michael (2014). Medialization of German Top Soccer. A case study of the adaptation of social functional systems to the action logic of mass media. Media and Communication Studies, 62 (3),377 -394.

Newspaper article

If you cite a newspaper article that you have printed as a “real” newspaper article, your reference in the bibliography will include the name of the newspaper, the exact date of publication with day and month, the issue number, and the page, in addition to the usual information. Some guides also add the year (Jg.) of the newspaper before the issue number.

Assendorf, Dirk (2020). Where is my water? Die Zeit, August 6, 2020, No. 33, p.3.

If you use the online edition instead, the reference looks slightly different after the publication date. You add an “Available online at”, the URL and the retrieval date.

Röhrlich, Dagmar (2020). Journalism between trivialization and alarmism. ÄrzteZeitung, December 30, 2020. Available online at https://www.aerztezeitung.de/Panorama/Journalismus-zwischen-Verharmlosung-und-Alarmismus-415964.html (accessed 03/26/2021).

Online sources / Internet documents

For online sources that are not newspaper or magazine articles, in addition to the author (who can also be an organization or similar, see example) and the year of publication, you also enter the access link and your retrieval date.

Science in Dialogue (2019). Science Barometer 2019. Available online at https://www.wissenschaft-im-dialog.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Projekte/Wissenschaftsbarometer/Dokumente_19/Broschuere_Wissenschaftsbarometer2019.pdf (accessed Feb. 22, 2021).

Exceptions and special cases

Finally, some special features of the Harvard citation should be taken up here.

Multiple works with the same author and year

If there are several sources in the bibliography with identical author names and years, small letters are added to the year to distinguish them, for example this results in

(Müller 2019a).

Different authors, same last name

In this particular case, your text references should also include the abbreviated first name of the author. In the bibliography, as already mentioned, the name is written out anyway, but your short references should also be clear. In concrete terms, such a reference could then look as follows:

(Müller, M. 2020, pp. 14-16)


As mentioned earlier, there are several citation styles based on the Harvard-style author-year system. This tends to include the familiar APA style, because here, too, only the author name and year are included in the text reference. However, the APA also establishes some rules that contradict many other Harvard styles. For example, first names are abbreviated in the bibliography, the name is separated from the year of publication by a comma in short references, and page numbers are only given in direct references. That’s why we distinguish the APA style from the Harvard system pretty strictly at this point.


Edited at: December 7, 2022

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