Difference Wiki

APA Referencing vs. Harvard Referencing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 2, 2024
APA referencing involves author-date citation in the text and a reference list, while Harvard referencing uses author-date in-text citations and a bibliography.

Key Differences

APA referencing, established by the American Psychological Association, is used primarily in psychology, education, and sciences. Harvard referencing, a style often used in the UK and Australia, is common in humanities and social sciences.
In APA referencing, in-text citations include the author’s surname and year of publication, with page numbers for direct quotes. Harvard referencing also uses author-date citations but often includes page numbers for all types of citations.
The reference list in APA style is titled "References" and requires specific formatting for different source types. Harvard style references, typically listed under "Bibliography," also require detailed information but differ slightly in formatting.
APA style mandates the use of a running head and specific headings structure in documents. Harvard style is less rigid in terms of document formatting but maintains a consistent approach to citation across different sources.
Both styles emphasize the importance of ethical and clear citation to avoid plagiarism but differ in citation details and bibliography organization.

Comparison Chart

Citation in Text

Author’s surname, year, page number for quotes
Author’s surname, year, page numbers more common

Reference List Title

Titled "References"
Titled "Bibliography" or "References"

Document Formatting

Requires a running head, specific headings
Less rigid, more flexible in document formatting

Source Formatting

Specific rules for different source types
Similar rules, slight differences in formatting

Common Usage

Psychology, education, sciences
Humanities, social sciences

APA Referencing and Harvard Referencing Definitions

APA Referencing

APA style uses a comprehensive reference list.
Smith, J. (2020). Title of work.

Harvard Referencing

Harvard referencing uses author-date system in text.
(Smith, 2020)

APA Referencing

It requires specific formatting for each source type.
Book: Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work.

Harvard Referencing

Often includes page numbers for all citations.
(Smith, 2020, p. 15)

APA Referencing

APA referencing involves author-date citation in text.
(Smith, 2020)

Harvard Referencing

Harvard style has flexible document formatting.
The paper did not require a running head.

APA Referencing

APA citations include page numbers for direct quotes.
Smith (2020, p. 15) states...

Harvard Referencing

Common in humanities and social sciences.
As discussed by Smith (2020)...

APA Referencing

APA style is common in scientific writing.
The study followed guidelines (Smith, 2020).

Harvard Referencing

It includes a bibliography for all sources.
Smith, J. (2020) 'Title of Article', Journal Title.


Do both styles use author-date citations?

Yes, both use author-date in text.

What is APA referencing?

A citation style used mainly in sciences.

Does Harvard referencing often include page numbers?

Yes, for most citations.

What is the reference list called in APA?

It’s called "References."

What is the bibliography called in Harvard?

Typically "Bibliography" or "References."

Is Harvard referencing used globally?

It's especially common in the UK and Australia.

Are page numbers required in APA citations?

Only for direct quotes.

What is Harvard referencing?

A citation style common in humanities.

Does APA style require a running head?

Yes, APA documents often have a running head.

Is Harvard style flexible in formatting?

Yes, it's less rigid than APA.

Does APA have specific rules for source types?

Yes, each type has specific formatting.

Do both styles require a date in citations?

Yes, both include the year of publication.

Where is APA referencing commonly used?

In psychology, education, and sciences.

Where is Harvard referencing commonly used?

In humanities and social sciences.

Does APA style cite web sources differently?

Yes, it has specific rules for web sources.

Can I switch between styles in one paper?

It's important to maintain consistency in citation style throughout a paper.

Is Harvard style easier for beginners?

It can be, due to its flexible nature.

Are both styles used in academic writing?

Yes, both are widely used in academia.

Do both styles help prevent plagiarism?

Yes, clear citation rules aim to prevent plagiarism.

Can you use Harvard referencing in scientific papers?

Yes, but APA is more typical.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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