How to reference books in Harvard style 

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Harvard–style referencing is one of the various methods of citation available out there. Citing your sources is important, so that due credit is given to the original creators of any content, and you do not end up indulging in plagiarism.

Books are one of the most widely used sources of information. This article will help you understand how to cite books properly using Harvard style.

In-text citations for books

Books may be referenced in your work either through in-text citation or in the reference list. An in-text citation is when you refer to an original or source material in the body of your text. Every in-text citation has a corresponding reference in a work’s reference list.

Every reference provides additional information about a source that was cited in your work (via an in-text citation). It gives the readers of your work all the information they need in order to find the cited material.

The structure of a reference varies a little, depending on the source type. A reference structure will be given for each type of book below.

In-text citation structure is consistent across all source types. They all are based on the following:

In-text citation structure:

Author (Year published)


(Author, Year published)

In-text citation example:

In her book, Kiran Desai (2006) deals with themes of exile and nation…


Exile is shown to be intrinsically tied to nationality (Desai, 2006)…

Every in-text citation for a book follows the structure above. More information about in-text citations for more than one author is given at the end of this guide.

Printed/Physical book references

Reference structure:

Author or editor surname, Initial(s). (Year published) Title italicized. edn. Place of publication: Publisher name.

* “edn.” is the edition number, if applicable.

Reference list example:

Desai, K. (2006) The Inheritance of Loss. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

E-book references

The method for referencing an e-book is the same as that of a printed book, except that additional information about a book’s DOI, URL and date accessed are included, if available.

Reference structure:

Author or editor surname, Initial(s). (Year published) Title italicised. Available at: DOI or URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).

Example reference:

Fetter, F.A. (1904) The principles of economics: With applications to practical problems. Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2020).

Audiobook references

An audiobook reference gives all of the same information as an e-book reference, but also includes the name of the narrator.

Reference structure:

Author or editor surname, Initial(s). (Year published or released) Title italicised. Narrated by narrator surname, Initial(s). (if needed). Available at: DOI or URL (Accessed: Day Month Year).

Example reference:

Wilkerson, I. (2020) Caste: The origins of our discontents. Narrated by Miles, R. Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2020).

References to chapters/sections of edited books

Usually, you only have to cite a particular chapter or section of a book in one of two scenarios:

  1. The section/chapter author is different from the book’s main author. For example, this is often the case with a book foreword.
  2. In an anthology or collection where the works of many authors are in a single book. There is also often an editor for these types of works.

If you’re using a book with only one author, you reference the whole book.

Reference structure:

Surname of the chapter/section’s author, Initial(s). (Year published) ‘Title of the chapter section’, in Surname of editor, Initial(s). (ed.) Book title italicized. Place of publication: Publisher name, pp. 00-00.

Example reference:

Farmer, V. L. (1996) ‘Mass media: Images, mobilization and communalism’, in Ludden, D.E. (ed.) Contesting the nation: religion, community, and the politics of democracy in India. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 98-115.

Multi-volume works

The method for referencing multi-volume works in the reference list is:

  • Name of the author or editor
  • Publication year (in round brackets)
  • Title (in italics)
  • Volumes (in round brackets)
  • Place of publication: Publisher

Reference structure:

Author or editor surname, Initial(s). (Year published) Book title italicized (no. of vols.). Place of publication: Publisher name.

Example reference:

David, D. et al. (2009) The Longman Anthology of World Literature (6 vols). London: Pearson Education.

Book with two authors

In-text citation example:

This book (Mostov and Ivekovic, 2006) emphasizes the role of…

Reference list example:

Mostov, J. and Ivekovic, R. (2004) From gender to nation. New Delhi: Zubaan.

Book with three authors

In the case of three authors, the first two authors’ last names will appear separated by a comma, with the third author’s name appearing after ‘and’, followed by the publication year separated by a comma. All of these will appear within round brackets in the case of in-text citations.

In-text citation example:

(Smith, Jones and Davies, 2014)

To include the same example in the reference list, the same format will be followed as in the method for citing two–author texts. This time, the first two authors’ names should be separated by a comma, followed by the last author’s name separated by ‘and’.

Reference list example:

Greig, A., Taylor, J. and MacKay, T. (2013) Doing research with children: A practical guide. London: Sage.

Book with four or more authors

If a book has more than three authors, then, for in-text citation where the author’s name occurs in the flow of the text, the last name of the first author is given followed by the term ”et al.”, with only a space in between. This is followed by the year of publication in round brackets.

In cases where the author name is not mentioned in the flow of the text, the in-text citation will consist of the first author’s last name followed by ”et al.” and year of publication, all within round brackets.

In-text citation examples:

Zauner et al. (2018) found that…


Mathematical tools are important (Zauner et al., 2018).

For a reference list citation of a book with more than three authors, you may list the first author followed by ”et al.”, or list the names of all the authors, depending on the requirements of your institution.

Reference list examples:

Zauner, S. et al. (2018) Administrative theory: An innovative approach to organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Zauner, S., Marschall, S., Pieter, V. and Bivalkar, P. (2018) Administrative theory: An innovative approach to organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Published October 29, 2020.

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