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School of English

Referencing at Leeds

When producing a piece a work, whether written or practical, it is important to acknowledge the sources you used. By referencing correctly you can demonstrate how widely you have researched your subject, showing the basis of your arguments and conclusions. By referencing correctly you will also avoid plagiarism.

Video transcript

Chris – Welcome back, this time we’re talking about referencing, a subject that really follows on from the previous research topic. I know that on my course we hadn’t had much experience of referencing our work but we soon got used to it. I just think, if you’re quoting what someone else has said or done, you need to say where the information came from.

Zarah – We’ve put a link to a general referencing tutorial on this page to get you started. This may all be a bit heavy but it is important. If you can start to get it straight now it’ll be easier for you later.

Andy - There are also some more detailed tutorials on referencing but, just to make it interesting, different university departments use different referencing styles so you will need to look at the information from your department to find out what tutorial you need.

Zarah – Yes it’s something you have to learn to do or you could find you are plagiarising. I was not aware of the term plagiarism until I came here but at University it is taken very seriously so it’s worth knowing about it up front.

Chris – Yer, and I know that some students worry about plagiarism, but it’s really not a problem if you understand what it is and how you can avoid it; there‘s some really good information that can help you with this. We’ve added a link to it on this page, so take a look if it’s a new concept for you.

Referencing is used to acknowledge the sources of information you have referred to when completing your own work. Referencing is important for various reasons:
  • It allows your readers to trace the sources you have used
  • It shows the breadth of your reading
  • It gives supporting evidence for your own ideas.

How you format your references depends on which style you use. Below, your school or department will tell you which style you are expected to use, but the principles behind why and where you need to reference are the same for all styles.

Do you know what some of the key referencing terms mean? Have a go at this quick activity.

Knowing when to reference can be confusing. Remember these simple rules: you need to reference everything you have read in preparation for an assignment and then used in some way in that assignment.

You need to reference everything that isn't your opinion or isn't just common knowledge.

Image adapted from Cardiff University. 2006. Information Literacy Resource Bank

Another important purpose of referencing is to help you to avoid plagiarising in your work.

At the University of Leeds, plagiarism is defined as "presenting someone else’s work, in whole or in part, as your own. Work means any intellectual output, and typically includes text, data, images, sound or performance".

University of Leeds. 2013. Cheating, plagiarism, fraudulent or fabricated coursework and malpractice in university examinations and assessments [online]. Available from:

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.

Have a go at this short activity to see if you can tell what constitutes plagiarism.

Within your first few weeks of arriving at Leeds, you will complete a full academic integrity tutorial which covers these issues in detail. In the meantime, you can have a look at the Skills@Library plagiarism and academic integrity page if you want to know more.

Referencing in the School of English


There are many different referencing styles used throughout the University.

In the School of English, we use the Harvard style for English Language study, and the MHRA style for English Literature study. These tutorials will give you a guide to using these styles:

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