Why Referencing Matters

The purpose of referencing is to show where the information you use comes from. Given this purpose, the first principle is to provide enough information in your citations so that your reader can find that same piece of information themselves. The second principle is consistency in format and style.

The following sections provide information on specific referencing styles. Regardless of which style you use, keep in mind the two main principles.

Know Your Style

There are a number of different referencing systems or styles in use at ANU. Usually, your College, discipline, or school will indicate which they prefer in the course outline or on the College website. You may be required to use more than one style, particularly if you are enrolled in different Colleges. Students doing both Law and Psychology, for example, would have to use AGLC and APA in the respective disciplines.

In other cases, the lecturer may say that it’s up to you to choose. To help you decide, below is an outline of the referencing styles that different disciplines commonly use.

FieldTypical referencing styles
Humanities, Social Sciences, BusinessHarvard
Visual Art, Art History, History, Music, International Relations, PoliticsChicago
Biology, Chemistry, Environmental ScienceHarvard or APA
Psychology, Linguistics, Social SciencesAPA
Law, Business LawAGLC
Engineering and Computer ScienceHarvard or IEEE

How to Reference

Be sure to use a good referencing style guide. Referencing style guides are like dictionaries—they give examples and rules. For some styles, such as AGLC, there is only one way to reference sources, so all AGLC style guides should have the same rules. For other styles, such as Harvard, the rules are not so well defined and may differ between guides. What is important is that you are consistent and always apply the same rules from a single guide in one piece of work.

The following pages give guidance on styles and refer you to detailed style guides.