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Referencing using the Author-Date System

In the Author-Date system, cite references to all material you have used as sources for the content of your work within your text. Full publication details must be given in a “Works Cited” list at the end of the text.

  • Give the author’s surname and the date of publication in parentheses within the body of your own text:
          A recent study (Smith and Bloggs, 2003) has shown ...
  • Page numbers must be included when you quote or paraphrase particular passages, lists or figures:
          It seems that “nothing much has changed” (Smith, 2002:65)
  • If you need to cite two or more articles by the same author that were published in the same year, distinguish between them by adding “a”, “b”, etc. to the dates:
          Recent studies (Bloggs, 1999, 2004a and 2004b) …
  • If you need to make reference to articles by different authors who have the same surname, distinguish between them by using the authors’ initials or full names:
           It has been argued (A. Smith, 2002) … but a more recent study (Z. Smith, 2004) has suggested …
  • If you have cited several different articles at the same point, place the authors’ names in alphabetical order, and separate them using semi-colons:
          It has been argued (Bloggs, 1999; Jones, 2003; Smith, 2002) …
  • If you have found your information about one author in an account by another author, both sources must be acknowledged:
          Smith’s 2002 study (cited in Jones, 2003) …

Works Cited (Author-Date System)

In the author-date referencing system, a page entitled “Works Cited” must be included at the end of an assignment or essay. On this page, you must list all the works from which you have quoted, to which you have referred, or upon which you have drawn on as a critical source. You should, in principle, include a reference to anything you have read in relation to the topic, unless you are certain that it has had no influence at all on your essay. Students’ essays, like all academic writing, must include a list of works cited, even if it only cites one text.

This list must give the full publication details of all works you have consulted, in alphabetical order by names of author(s) or editor(s), followed by the date of publication, and then details of the title and publisher. Each entry takes the following format (note that the elements are separated by full stops):

Surname, Initial of first name. Date. Title in Italics (Place: Publisher)

There are variations in spacing and punctuation conventions within various in-text systems. The MHRA style guide includes more detailed guidelines about the format for works cited using the Author-Date system; see Section 10.4.


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