Referencing Guide

Referencing is the process of citing or documenting the sources of quotes, theories, ideas, illustrations and diagrams that you have used in writing your university assignments. When we acknowledge sources in this way, we give credit to another person’s words, ideas or opinions in the form of a note and/or bibliographic reference or citation.

On this page:

Why Reference?

There are a number of reasons why you need to reference your work:

  • To show that relevant sources have been investigated
  • To enable the person reading our work to trace the original sources we have used
  • To provide documentary support for an argument
  • To give differing points of view of an argument
  • To indicate that we have not used someone else's ideas and claimed them as our own

To Avoid Plagiarism

Referencing your work adequately will ensure that you are not accused of plagiarism. You must acknowledge (reference or cite) any work, or part of any work, that you quote, paraphrase, summarise or copy. You do not have to reference information that is considered general knowledge (e.g. that Wellington is the capital of New Zealand).

About Referencing Styles

Different disciplines and subject areas have preferred formatting conventions for citing works and formatting references. These are referred to as citation styles or referencing styles.

Referencing styles fit into three main categories:

  • note system
  • author/date system
  • author/page system

Each style includes the same basic parts of a citation, but organises and formats them slightly differently. Some commonly used styles are APA, MHRA, MLA and Harvard.

Choosing a Style

The style used depends on the subject you are working in. Visit your Subject Portal or Paper Outline to find out what referencing style you should be using.

Use a Consistent Style

Using a consistent format helps the reader to properly identify and locate the works you cited. For example, being familiar with the conventions of the referencing style used in your course reading lists will make it easier to search the readings, as you'll clearly recognise which part of the citation should be entered for a title search.

Referencing Style Manuals and Guides

You can access physical style manuals at the University of Waikato Hamilton Campus Library. While some copies are available for issue, others are reference books that must remain in the Library.

The library also has a selection of online guides and resources for a range of referencing styles. Below is a list of available referencing guides and examples.

Referencing Management Tools

There is quite a range of referencing management available to help you manage and format your references. Most of the more extensive applications require some form of installation on your computer or device.

The Library supports EndNote referencing software and offers workshops to help you get started, see:

Book into an EndNote workshop to learn how to get started, or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for assistance using EndNote.

There are a number of free tools available to help format individual references. However, some will do a better job than others so it's up to you to make sure your references are formatted correctly before handing in your assignment. Here are some examples:

If you are missing important reference information you may be able to find this by searching for the item in Library Search or WorldCat.

Referencing Help

There are a number of ways you can ask for help with any referencing style. You can: