Essay Format: Harvard Style

Whether you love essays or not, you can’t just do without them in college. And using a standard essay format like Harvard style is a good way to make your work look professional and eventually earn yourself more marks. The Harvard referencing style is famously used in fields such as Humanities, Behavioral Sciences, and Philosophy.

How do I write an essay at Harvard myself?

If this is your first time writing an essay like this, make sure you have enough time to format it. Start asap and allow as much time as you can to customize your item to meet your specific needs. This particular style requires a great structure.

How do I write an essay at Harvard without the help of someone? Starting the essay should be fun. Start your paper with a quote to get the attention of your readers. Introduce your topic and share your thesis statement with the readers.

Be sure to talk about the topic of the essay in the first sentence of the essay body. Provide facts to support the topic. Use facts, quotes, and analysis to prove that you have researched the subject thoroughly. Present new ideas with subheadings. This will help readers to separate each idea and have a clear understanding of them.

In the Conclusion, which is the last part of the essay. Summarize each ideal and analyze it. Write your thesis again. The main idea of ​​the paper, all the facts and analysis should lead to a strong message. This should make sense and make readers think about your essay.

The word limit for a Harvard essay should not be less than 500 words. However, the limit must not go beyond 600 words. Therefore, the text of your essay must contain at least 500 words, except the title page. In addition, the length of a Harvard essay does not include citations in the text and in the bibliography.

What is the Harvard formatting style?

The Harvard style is one of the formatting styles most commonly used in academic work, along with APA, MLA, and Chicago. The general format of the essay, including the size of the margins, the selected font, etc. is determined by the Harvard format. There are also guidelines for citing sources – in the text and a reference list at the end of the essay.

What kind of format is a Harvard essay?

The format of the academic paper at Harvard is a very specific style. It is similar to the APA style; however, the first has two main differences. Harvard format does not have a manual or book to be followed.

The elements that connect both Harvard and APA together are that the two formats use the same citation format: author’s name and date. These formats have citations and bibliography at the end, in alphabetical order. Therefore, if you have already written APA essays, adopting the Harvard format will be much easier.

Ensure you follow the writing guidelines for Harvard essay format on this page. Work with the guide in order to format your essay and give it a professional look. The tips and various examples will inspire you to create an excellent outline, format the essay, and correctly cite it.

Some of the things needed to write with a Harvard format

Writing a professional essay needs you to have some skillsets, and this includes technical and qualitative expertise, in-depth knowledge of the subject, and other aspects as well. One of the crucial skills is the ability to present information in a format that reflects your ideas and does not interfere with the studies and works cited in the text.

The academic writing used in different institutions has different formats and standards to guide and educate students and professionals about the proper and detailed organization and reference of sources. One of the oldest and most famous styles is the Harvard reference and formatting.

Why is referencing important?

Reference is crucial to conduct research successfully, and it is crucial for your readers to see how you did your research. If you know why you need to make references, you will understand why it is important to know how to create the reference.

The major reason why creating reference is important to you and your colleagues are that plagiarism is a very serious and real offense, and ensuring that you acknowledge the research of another person and ideas reduces your chances of being accused of this. No matter how tempting it is to try to adopt someone else’s work as yours, do not try it! If you are interested in their ideas or you have a thing to say about them, then cite their name with an exact reference.

Another reason to include references in your essay is that many people (probably like you) have worked hard to form ideas and opinions, and it will only be good to accords the credit and recognition they deserve. The reference allows the reader to track and locate the original source if desired. You are judged or marked by what you know; you have to show how you know that information, referring to the person or people who originally owns the idea.

In addition, your lecturers are eager to see a good list of references. Convince them of the quality of the information you are using and your references, and you will get even better grades.

Paper Formatting Guidelines

General rules

  • 1-inch margins on each side.
  • Roman Times or New Arial 12 pt. Fonts are mostly recommended.
  • Double line spacing throughout the essay.
  • The text is aligned to the left.
  • The first line of each paragraph is indented by 0.5.
  • Title in the middle of the first page before the text.
  • Headers and page numbers
  • The essay can include subheadings (breaking it into different sections), a title page, an outline, and the reference list.

Harvard Format Cover Page

  • The Harvard-based format is unique and organized. A very particular title page is required with the instructions that are listed below:
  • The title of the essay is placed in the center of the page and in capital letters.
  • After the title, three lines below, write the author’s name in lower case.
  • Move four lines down and enter the class name.
  • Move down one line and enter the professor’s name.
  • The next line contains the name of the school.
  • Then go to the next one and write down the city and local state, and the date should be on the bottom line.
  • The Harvard essay format cover page offers all the information you need to know about the author of the essay.

Title, Headers, and Page numbers

Position the title before the text of your essay and align it to the center. Capitalize all the major keywords, for instance: How to write an essay. Articles, short conjunctions, and prepositions are not written in the upper case. Do not indent, italicize, highlight, or bold your title.

Include a page number in the title of your essay in the upper right corner of a page. Put your last name in the header before the page number.


Divide your essay subheadings into sections. For instance, level 1 titles divide the entire essay into parts. Level 2 headings will divide these sections into subsections.

Headings at Level 1 are similar to the essay title. In other words, they are positioned at the center, in capital letters, without bold, without emphasis, without italics, and without indent. After the heading, start typing the new line text as usual; indent the first line of the text to 0.5.

Headings at Level 2 are also in upper cases. But they are aligned to the left (aligned to the left edge of the paper). They are also in italics. After this subheading, start typing the new subsection on another line as usual.

Paragraphs in a Harvard Format Essay

The items in the Harvard essay format are very structured. The first part of the article should be engaging and fun. The article can begin with a fun quote or with interesting facts and information that give an insight into the essay in question.

The introduction should lead to an excellent thesis statement. The thesis statement refers to the key idea of ​​the sentence, and a summary of what the body of the essay implies.

The first sentence of the body part should make the reader understand. The topic sentence would be followed by a fact that is relevant to it. The details in the supporting statements may contain facts, quotations, or analysis.
The paragraph then concludes with a sentence that summarizes what the paragraph is about and leads into the next section smoothly. Subheadings can also be used to introduce new subtopics and are italicized.

The transition between the Paragraphs

When writing an essay using the Harvard format, it should show the transition from one paragraph to another, and these paragraphs must have a connection.

The subject should gradually grow from one point to another. A paragraph in Harvard format is available in three parts:

  1. The topic sentences
  2. Supporting facts
  3. Closing sentence form


Completing an essay in Harvard format is crucial and must be written with high precise understanding and expertise. The first sentence of the conclusion is used to emphasize the thesis statement and to remind the reader what the essay represented, demonstrated, or theorized. After the first sentence, provides short information about the key points discussed in the essay to encourage remembering the most important points discussed. That is, it is basically a summary of the key points of the essay. The essay should end with a strong and powerful message that will make the reader think for a few minutes or hours after finishing the essay.

What comes after the conclusion is the reference page. The reference page is made up of the list of references and written on the page known as ‘Reference.’

Referencing in Harvard format has a general referencing style which is as follows:

  • The last name of the author of the book, First initial.
  • Publication year
  • The title of the book in the upper case
  • City of Publication: Publisher
  • You will find the complete guideline for referencing in Harvard below.

Harvard Style Reference List

Your Harvard reference list should be titled “Reference List.” Both words must be capitalized and centralized, similar to the level 1 subheadings. The list must include a bibliographic entry for each source mentioned in the essay. Instead, all sources cited in the essay should have a reference list entry that corresponds to it.

You can know more about how you can format the entries for your reference below or you can just inquire with an expert to help you out:

Formatting Harvard In-Text Citations

General Rules

Cite all your sources

When using information from any source in your essay, you must provide a Harvard style in-text citation to show where that information came from. Otherwise, your essay will be regarded as being plagiarized.

The general appearance of in-text citations

In Harvard style, the quotation is in brackets, consisting of the author’s name and year of publication.

They look like this: (John & Peter, 2020). You may also include the page number, like so: (John & Peter 2020, p. 30).

Direct quotes

For Harvard references, if you provide the words exactly from a particular source, you must include that quote using quotation marks and write the page number in the in-text citation. If you use some from a website, it must include the paragraph number from which the words were taken, as follows: (John & Peter 2020, par. 4). Just count the paragraph on the webpage you are referring to.

Mentioning authors in the text

If you mention the names of the authors in the text, do not include the brackets. Also, use the word “and” rather than using the (&) sign. For instance, you could write: In their book, John and Peter (2020, p. 14) argue that jumping out of a skyscraper can be bad for your health.

Citing an author discussed in a different source

If you are making reference to an author discussed in a secondary source, you must indicate the name of the original author; however, state that this author is “mentioned” in the source you are using. For instance, if Kraut talks about Plato, you can say:

Plato believed that the soul is independent of the body in which it lives (quoted in Kraut 2017).

Note: in this case, you will need to provide a bibliographic entry for Kraut and not for Plato in the reference list.

Several sources in one citation

If you want to cite several sources in a set of parentheses, you must list them in the same order as they are on your reference list and use a semicolon to separate them as follows: (John 2017; Peter 2016).

Different Types of In-Text Citations + Examples

For Harvard references, in-text citations in a text differ depending on the number of authors that you have in your source. We provide two reference examples for each case: in one case, the source is not mentioned in the text, and in the other, yes.

Citation for an Author

It is good to clean your teeth early in the morning (Jason 2014).
Jason (2014) said it’s good to clean your teeth every morning.

Citation if the Authors are up to two

Some students may actually enjoy reading at midnight (Sarah & Anne, 2017). According to Sarah and Anne (2017), some students may actually enjoy reading at midnight.

Three Authors

Pets and kids can play together without any problem (John, Sarah & Anna 2017). According to John, Sarah, and Anna (2017), pets and kids can play together without any problem.

Four or More Authors

Playing outside in the harsh weather is not good for toddlers (Annabelle et al. 2018). Annabelle et al. (2018) state playing outside in the harsh weather is not good for toddlers.

Citation from an edited Source

Avoiding smoking is lowers your risk of cancer (eds Andres waters et al. 2018). According to the book edited by Andres waters et al. (2018), Avoiding smoking is lowers your risk of cancer.

When there are no Authors

If the authors of the source are not cited, include the title of that source in your in-text citation. Note that in the Harvard reference system, the title is written in italics for books, brochures, magazines, and reports. However, the title is enclosed in single quotation marks when it is necessary to cite the name of a website, article, newspaper, or chapter. Just capitalize the first word of the title.

Books, periodicals, brochures, and reports

Some people might think exercising is unnecessary (The psychology of exercise: an introduction 2018). According to the psychology of exercise: an introduction (2018), Some people might think exercising is unnecessary.

For newspapers, articles, chapter titles, and Web pages

It is advisable to act wisely in hard times (‘Ten best tips to become wise’ 2019). The article ‘Ten best tips to become wise’ (2019) helpfully recommends acting wisely in hard times.

In addition, you can write the title briefly if it is too extended. For example, in the above-mentioned example, you can write the psychology of exercise instead of the psychology of pressure: an introduction (2010).

No Date

If the date is not added in the source, use the abbreviation “n.d.”- no date instead. The usual rules also apply. It is stated that football is exciting (‘The coach’s diary’ n.d.) It might not catch someone as a surprise that eating is better than staying hungry, according to Ethan (n.d.).

Formatting the Reference List

General Rules

Alphabetical order: Your list of references should be sorted alphabetically by the first letter of the first word of every entry in the reference (generally the surname of the first author). However, if the reference entry begins with “a,” “an,” or “the,” ignore them and put them in alphabetical order based on the first letter of the next word.

For example, if you are citing a source that has no author on the list and the entry begins with its title, such as “The importance of performing excellently,” you should sort it alphabetically by word “importance.”

Positioning the entries: In the Harvard reference system, all bibliographic entries must start on a new line. These are flushed to the left and are not indented (making your reference list look like a complete mess).

Maintain double-spacing throughout your reference list.

Capitalization: In book titles, chapters of the book, and web articles, only put the first letter in upper case. However, when citing scientific journals or newspapers, put all keywords in your titles in upper case (i.e., no prepositions, articles, conjunctions, etc.).

See Harvard-specific reference examples below.

Referring to several authors: Although Harvard’s style of quoting the text requires “et al.” when there are four or more authors in a source, you must list all authors in a bibliographic entry. It is essential that you list all of them even if they are up to 27.

A lot of works by the same author: In the list of references in the Harvard style, the sources of the same author must be organized by year of publication. If there are several works by the same author that were published in the same year, organize them in alphabetical order of their title and add the letters “a,” “b,” “c,” etc. after the year, as follows:

  • John, JH 2015a, A rose book, Rose Publisher, Atlanta, US.
  • John, JH 2015b, A tulip book, Tulip Book Publisher, Atlanta, US


The guideline above is well researched to make your next essay assignment a breeze. It does not matter the type of essay in question; whether informative, 5-paragraph or argumentative, the format will always come in handy. Trying to search for an official handbook writing on this format might be the best thing to do; however, it can be difficult and even impossible. In addition, the format will fit in with any number of words (500 words and 1000 words) while writing an essay.

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