APA Vs. Harvard Referencing | Understanding the Differences

Do you know the difference between APA vs Harvard Referencing? No? Then, read this blog as it discusses all about these citation styles, differences, and examples.

20 May 2024 113 11 minutes

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Referencing is an integral component of assignment writing. Without these references, a professor can reject the submission. These citations also assist in proving the originality and provide in-detail information on specific topics. Even after knowing all this, students tend to skip this section. Why? It is because they do not understand the differences between the reference styles. But do not worry! This blog will resolve all your queries. It will provide detailed information on APA vs Harvard referencing. So, without further ado, let us dive ahead and begin learning.

What Is Harvard Referencing?

The first thing to learn in our APA vs Harvard referencing style blog is their definition and meaning. So, Harvard referencing is a way of crediting the sources you use in your academic work. It can be anything like essays, reports, or research papers. It is like giving credit to the author or any individual who helped you with your ideas and assisted in assignment completion. It is also helpful for professors as they can check the credibility of the sources.

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The common thing between APA vs Harvard style is that they both offer credit to the source. When you mention an idea or a quote from any book or article in your assignment, you include information about where that idea came from. This information usually includes the author's name, the year the source was published, and sometimes the page number. You must put this information in parentheses or brackets in your assignments. It can be written in the footnote or right after the part of your writing where you used the idea. 

Apart from this, at the end of your assignment, you must list all the sources you mentioned. This is called a reference list. This list gives more detailed information about each source, like the title of the book or article, the name of the author, the publication date, and where it was published. All of this helps your readers in finding the exact sources you used. Thus, they can refer to the list if they want to learn more about your topic. The next thing we will learn in APA vs Harvard citation is the characteristics of Harvard referencing.

Characterstics of Harvard Referencing Style

Before we discuss the APA vs. Harvard reference, let's examine its characteristics. Harvard style has multiple popular features. However, to provide a quick overview, our assignment help experts have listed the important ones below. 

  • In Harvard referencing, the author's surname and the publication year are included in the in-text citation. This is usually done within parentheses or brackets. It makes it easier for the readers to identify the source of the information and then locate it in the reference list.

  • Harvard referencing requires consistency and accuracy in citing sources. Even the reference list follows a strict format. This feature ensures that readers can access the sources easily and verify the information in the assignment.

  • Harvard referencing is quite flexible. This is because it can accommodate various types of sources, including books, journals, articles, and websites. This style also has guidelines for citing different types of sources. Thus, it allows writers to adopt any format that fits the requirements of their discipline.

  • In apa vs harvard style referencing, the latter is widely recognized and used in multiple academic disciplines. It is because this style has a straightforward format and clear rules that make it simple for both the readers and writers.

Now that we know the Harvard referencing, we can quickly move on to the next stage of the blog. But, before we unravel the big question, "What is the difference between Harvard and APA referencing?" let us learn more about the second citation style.

What Is APA Referencing?

APA referencing is a set of rules and guidelines developed by the American Psychological Association for citing sources in academic writing. It is commonly used in the social sciences, psychology, education, and other fields to provide consistency and clarity in citations and primary sources. APA style citations usually include the author's last name and year of publication in the text, which helps with identification and integrity.

APA references serve several purposes in academic writing:

  • It credits the original authors, acknowledges their contributions to the field, and promotes academic integrity and ethical learning.

  • It allows readers to browse the sources cited by the author. Thus, it makes it easier to examine the topic further and verify the information provided.

  • APA references help to demonstrate the breadth and depth of research.

  • It also increases the credibility and persuasiveness of arguments. Due to standards and contributes to scholarly discourse.

Well, now before we unravel the APA VS harvard referencing differences, let us have a look at the features of this style. So, dive ahead into the next section and know for yourself.

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Characterstics of APA Referencing Style

In this section of the blog, we will learn the distinctive features of APA referencing from experts at Global Assignment Help. All you need to do is dive below and read the pointers written by our team.

  • APA uses an author-date citation system. In simple words, it is where the author's surname and the year of publication are included in the in-text citation. This feature assists in readers identifying the information and locating it in the references.

  • Another feature of the APA referencing style is that the author's name and the year of the publication are written in the enclosed brackets. This makes it easier for the readers to find the source in the list.

  • The reference list is double-spaced and concisely formatted in APA style. It enhances readability and consistency in the reference list. Thus, the best feature of itis that it prioritizes accuracy and style.

  • The APA style provides comprehensive guidelines for formatting academic papers, citing sources, and preparing manuscripts for publication. This style is helpful for everyone, including writers, editors, and researchers in the social sciences. 

Now, let us understand the differences between APA vs harvard citation. All you need to do is check out the table below, and you will learn everything.

What Is the Difference Between APA vs Harvard Referencing?

Two commonly used styles for citation and referencing are APA (American Psychological Association) and Harvard. Moreover, student’s often have a doubt ”How do I change APA to Harvard style?” For such things, refer to this table below. While both have the same purpose, which is to credit the source, they have differences in various aspects. In the table below, we have highlighted the differences between APA and Harvard referencing styles.




In-text Citations

It uses the author's last name and publication year in parentheses, like (Smith, 2019).

Also uses the author-date format but can be within the text or in parentheses.

Reference List & Bibliography

Lists all cited sources at the end, arranged alphabetically by the author's last name.

Lists all consulted sources, not just cited ones, also alphabetically by author's last name.


Has specific guidelines for document layout, including margins, font size, line spacing, and headings.

Is less strict about formatting, focusing more on citations and references.


Avoids abbreviations unless widely understood (e.g., USA), preferring full spelling.

Allows more abbreviation flexibility but still aims for clarity.

Additional Elements

May need a running head on every page, which is a shortened version of the paper's title.

Usually doesn't require a running head but might have specific title page or header/footer requirements.


Common in social sciences, education, and psychology.

Widely used in humanities, business, and natural sciences, especially in the UK and Australia.

We hope that we have clarified the difference between Harvard and APA referencing. Through this blog, you have understood both these citations and added all references accurately to the assignments. Still, if you face any issues, you can always ask our experts for assistance.

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Struggling with APA and Harvard Referencing? Let Us Help You!

Referencing assignments is not easy. Even after performing thorough research students can get confused between APA vs harvard referencing. But, do not worry, as you can always contact our experts and get assistance from them. Our professionals will help you out in adding references as per your requirements. So, the next time you get stuck all you need to do is visit the platform and seek help as our experts can assist you with APA vs harvard referencing examples, as well for better understanding, if you face any issue.

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