Citing literature and making reference lists

A bibliographical reference must contain enough information to enable a reader to identify and find the source. It is furthermore important that this information is presented in a consistent manner.

Making reference lists

The following guidelines are based on the Harvard Referencing System, also called the author/date system.

Reference management software such as Endnote are good tools for keeping track of one’s bibliographical references. The NMBU University Library arranges courses on the use of the programme for staff and students.

Contents:
1. Citing written sources
 - 1.1 Inserting references in a text
 - 1.2 Multiple authors
 - 1.3 Secondary sources
 - 1.4 Documents without year of publication
2. Citing non-written sources
3. How to make a good reference list
 - 3.1 Books
 - 3.2 Edited publications
 - 3.3 Publications issued by organisations/institutions
 - 3.4 Master’s theses
 - 3.5 Articles in collections
 - 3.6 Articles in journals
 - 3.7 Online documents
4. Alphabetical order
5. A sample reference list
6. Using reference management software to make reference lists
 - 6.1 EndNote styles for Masters’ theses
 - 6.2 Styles for scientific journals
7. Difference between manually and automatically generated reference lists

1. Citing written sources

1.1 Inserting references in a text
In all articles, papers and theses, one often has to refer to texts written by others. There are certain rules for making such references. Furthermore, the reader must know where to find the complete bibliographical information. These are organised in a reference list, which is sorted alphabetically by the author’s last name.

The citation must include the author’s name, year of publication and page(s). Based on this information, a reader is able to obtain the publication in question by referring to the complete bibliographical information in the reference list.

References can be incorporated into a text in many different ways. Often, it is a god idea to use various strategies. For example, a reference to something you read on page 3 in a book by Smith, published in 1990, can be written in one of the following ways:

• In her study on mad cow disease, Smith (1990 p. 3) states that ...
• Smith (1990 p. 3) claims that mad cow disease is caused by ...
• As shown by Smith (1990 p. 3) ...
• In the book ”Mad Cow Disease” from 1990, Smith (p. 3) states that ...

Sometimes you have to refer to a large number of pages. In such cases, it is sufficient to refer to a chapter, section, etc.

• Smith (1990 chap. 4)

From a reader’s point of view, including the page number(s) is ideal. However, text references very often only refer to author and year.

1.2 Multiple authors
When referring to one, two or three authors you can cite all of them, in the same order in which they are listed in the original publication:

• According to Smith, Avery and Jones (1985 p. 3)

If a text is published by four or more authors, only the first author is mentioned within the text. Use the abbreviation et al. (from Latin et alii, meaning "and others") to indicate that there are more authors. However, all authors must be listed in the reference list, even if the citation in the text reads Smith et al.

Occasionally, three or more authors publish several articles within the same year. In this case, you must refer to the authors in the same order in which they appear in the original publications.

• Smith, Avery and Jones (1985 p. 3) state that..., whereas Smith, Jones and Avery (1985 p.45) also provided evidence ...

In this case, one should not use "Smith et al. (1985)", since this leaves the reader guessing which document to refer to in the reference list.

Some authors are productive and publish numerous articles within a single year. When referring to two (or more) of such articles, you must add a, b, etc. to distinguish between them:

• Smith (1990a p. 113) and (1990b p. 217) clearly indicates that ...

If two authors with the same last name have published an article in the same year, use their first-name initial to distinguish.

• Both A. Smith (1990 p. 3) and B. Smith (1990 p. 46) agree that ...

If two or more authors are cited at the same point in the text then they are included in the same in-text citation, separated by a semicolon e.g. Several researchers (Avery 2000; Brown 1991; Smith 2003) found that...

1.3 Secondary sources
Sometimes one has to refer to a secondary source. This implies referring to a primary source via another (secondary) reference (ie an author refers to a work you have not read). This should be avoided, but at times it may be impossible to obtain the primary source. However, it must be clearly stated in your reference that you you have not seen the book/article you are referring to.

• In 1987, Smith (cited in Jones 1990 p. 3) discovered that the entire ...

1.4 Documents without year of publication
Written sources without a year of publication can be cited by using the abbreviation s.a. (Latin: sine anno – without year):

• Smith (s.a. p. 5)

2. Citing non-written sources
Non-written sources, such as films and videos, can more or less be cited like written sources – stating author and publishing year.

Personal communications are cited in the same way as other sources within the text, but are not included in the reference list. A personal communication can be a letter, memo, email, an interview, an informal conversation or a telephone call.

3. How to make a good reference list
All cited literature must be included in a separate reference list, and ordered alphabetically. The objective of such a reference list is to enable readers and library staff to obtain desired literature as easily as possible.

The two main rules for reference lists are:
1. All literature referred to in the text must be included in the reference list.
2. All of the references in the reference list must be found as citations in the text.

3.1 Books
A reference to a book with a personal author shall include the following information:

Author’s last name, first name (or only first name initial), year of publication, book title, place of publication, publisher, number of pages.

• Pillay, T.V.R . (2004). Aquaculture and the environment. 2nd ed. Oxford, Fishing News Books. 196 p.

The year of publication can be distinguished by a period and/or parentheses. The book title can be in italics. The order of place of publication and publisher can be reversed. The main thing is that all information is presented in an orderly, consistent manner. For books that have been issued in several editions, the reference must state which edition was used.

If you have several references to the same author, you can replace the author’s name with a dash in the second and following references. You can also choose to repeat the name. In either case, be consistent. The oldest publication is listed first.

• Pillay, T.V.R. (1992). Aquaculture and the environment. Oxford, Fishing News Books. 189 p.
• - (2004). Aquaculture and the environment. 2nd ed. Oxford, Fishing News Books. 196 p.

For more than one author, list first author with last name first, the following authors with first name first. However, this may vary. Sometimes all authors are listed with last names first. Again, the main thing is to be consistent.

It is often practical to use an ampersand (&) between two or more authors. Thus, one avoids having to take the language of the publication into consideration (og, and, und, etc.)

3.2 Edited publications
For edited publications, the references are quoted as follows:

• Wilkinson, R.E. (ed.). (2000). Plant-environment interactions. 2nd ed. New York, Marcel Dekker. 456 p.

No words of the book’s title should be abbreviated. The trend today is an increasing use of lowercase characters in English titles .

3.3 Publications issued by organisations/institutions
When an organisation or an institution acts as ”author” and publisher of a book or document, it is common practice to list the organisation’s name as the ”author”.

• United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2001). World public sector report: globalization and the state . New York, United Nations. 184 p.

• UNESCO. (2003). Gender and education for all: the leap to equality. Paris, Unesco. 416 p.

If such a report was prepared on assignment by one or several authors, but is issued as part of the assigning institute’s publication series, you can choose if you want to refer to the author or the institution.

3.4 Master theses
An example of a reference to a Master’s thesis submitted at NMBU

• Rasaily, R.G. (2006). Contribution of community forest on agriculture farming in Mid Hills of Nepal. M.Sc. thesis. Ås, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. 72 p.

3.5 Articles in collections
When citing an article in a collection, you should refer to the article’s author:

• Sanders, D.W. (1992). Soil conservation: strategies and policies. In: Tato, K. & Hurni, H. (eds.) Soil conservation for survival, p. 17-28. Ankey, Iowa, Soil and Water Conservation Society.

3.6 Articles in journals
The ISSN Portal is a useful electronic tool for finding the complete titles and standard abbreviations of journals. To access the database, you must be linked to the NMBU network.

Single-word journal titles are not abbreviated, e.g., Naturwissenschaften. The present trend is to write out fully the names of journals, thus avoiding problems associated with abbreviations.

A complete reference to an article from a journal/periodical should include:

Author’s last name, first name (or only first name initial), year of publication, title of article, name of journal (preferably in italics or bold), volume, pages (from:to).

The issue number must be included only if each issue starts with page 1, otherwise it is not necessary. Do not include words such as Binding, Issue or Volume. The Issue number should be written in ordinary Arabian numerals, even if written in Roman numerals in the original.

• Bakken, A.K. & Moe, R. (1995). Height and quality control in Christmas begonia by growth-retarding temperature regimes. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica. Section B, Soil and Plant Science, 45 (4): 283-291.

3.7 Online documents
The access to online documents, i.e., documents in electronic form on the Internet, is increasing. The problem with referring to such sources, however, is that one cannot be sure of how lasting they are. Websites can either be changed or completely disappear. It is thus advisable to cite printed documents as much as possible.

In addition to the usual bibliographical information, references to online documents should also include the URL address and access date (date on which you viewed the document online).

• Business forum, 2001. Getting the facts on Stakeholder Analysis. [online] Available at: http://www.businessforum_123/london [Accessed 12 July 2001]

4. Alphabetical order
When using the Harvard Referencing System, a reference list of all used sources (books, articles, online documents, etc.) shall be compiled and ordered alphabetically by the main author's last name or a corporate name. References by the same author are sorted by year of publication. These principles enable readers to find complete information about the literature cited in the text. References without an author are inserted in the alphabetical order by their title.

5. Sample reference list

Bakken, A.K. & Moe, R. (1995). Height and quality control in Christmas begonia by growth-retarding temperature regimes. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica. Section B, Soil and Plant Science, 45 (4): 283-291.

Berg, T. (1995). Dynamic management of plant genetic resources: Potentials of emerging grassroot movements. Rome, FAO. Localised on 28 November 1996 on the World Wide Web: http://icppagr.fao/docs/doc.html.

Crush, J.R. (1990). Nitrogen fixation in grassland development. In: Hanxi, Y. (ed.) Proceedings of the International Symposium on Grassland Vegetation, Hohhot, The People's Republic of China, August 15-20, 1987, p. 475-479. Beijing, Science Press.

Pillay, T.V.R. (1992). Aquaculture and the environment. Oxford, Fishing News Books. 189 p.

- (2004). Aquaculture and the environment. 2nd ed. Oxford, Fishing News Books. 196 p.

Rasaily, R.G. (2006). Contribution of community forest on agriculture farming in Mid Hills of Nepal. M.Sc.thesis. Ås, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Noragric. 72 p.

Sanders, D.W. (1992). Soil conservation: Strategies and policies. In: Tato, K. & Hurni, H. (eds.) Soil conservation for survival, p. 17-28. Ankey, Iowa, Soil and Water Conservation Society.

UNESCO. (2003). Gender and education for all: the leap to equality. Paris, Unesco. 416 p.

United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2001). World public sector report: globalization and the state. New York, United Nations. 184 p.

Wilkinson, R.E. (ed.). (2000). Plant-environment interactions. 2nd ed. New York, Marcel Dekker. 456 p.

6. Using reference management software to make reference lists - EndNote
Reference management software is specially designed for storing literature references in a personal database. These programmes are also useful tools when writing articles, theses, etc. Such software can insert references from the database into the text and generate a reference list. There are several programmes available. NMBU has site licenses for EndNote. This means that all NMBU staff and students are granted access to this product. We recommend students, PhD students and researchers to use EndNote.
- Read more

6.1 EndNote styles for Master’s theses
The Harvard System of Referencing is often used in MSc theses (author-date method). A Harvard style follows the EndNote software, but we do not recommend using this style. The NMBU University Library has developed a Norwegian and an English Harvard style for EndNote. If your thesis advisor does not specifically recommend another style, you can download and use one of these styles in your MSc thesis.
- Read more

6.2 Styles for scientific journals
Note that many scientific journals have their own rules for how to cite literature and present reference lists. Such journal-specific rules must be followed. The reference management programmes include a variety of different styles for your use.

7. Difference between manually and automatically generated reference lists
In the reference management programme such as EndNote one has to specify a language when selecting a style. For example, if you select English, (ed.) is used for edited publications. If you select a Norwegian style, (red.) is used for edited publications. In the manual mode, however, the rules described in 3.2 Edited publications are applied.

Published 2. May 2007 - 21:00 - Updated 16. March 2017 - 12:41

Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

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