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Referencing is a way of acknowledging that you have used the ideas and work belonging to someone else. It demonstrates that you have undertaken an appropriate literature search and carried out appropriate use of sources.

For an introduction to what a citation is, what a full reference is, and when they are used, take a look at our quick guide.

This is available to download as a Word or PDF document.

Quick guide to citations and full references (docx, 65.7 kB)
Quick guide to citations and full references (PDF, 79.8 kB)

There are 3 types of referencing support and tools available which you can progress through as you learn and develop your skills.

Jump to a section:

Referencing guides

Referencing guides help you to understand and learn the rules of referencing by giving you clear instructions on how to build references for the different sources you have consulted, and how to build them into a reference list (or bibliography). Referencing guides also show you how to acknowledge these references by citing them within your work.

At York St John University, there are 5 referencing styles in use – which style you use will depend on the course you're studying.

The style you will be using should be clearly stated by your course so check your programme and module documentation.

Students whose courses contain modules from different subject areas (such as Joint Honours) are permitted to use a single style throughout your degree, where your subjects would normally use differing styles. Please see the Referencing Policy, your Academic Liaison Librarian, or your tutor.

Harvard is the most commonly used style here at York St John University. The version we use is Cite Them Right Harvard, 12th edition.

APA is the referencing style for the American Psychological Association.

MLA 9th edition is the referencing style of the Modern Language Association.

MHRA is the style of the Modern Humanities Research Association.

OSCOLA 4th edition is The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities.

For guidance on citing Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, visit the Cite Them Right website's examples:

Referencing tools

Once you understand how to reference, you can use a referencing tool to help you collect references as you use them and then create a reference list (or bibliography) that you can insert at the end of your work.

The quick referencing tool we recommend is ZoteroBib. In ZoteroBib, you can:

  • Create references simply by entering an ISBN, URL, DOI or title
  • See your references formatted in the correct style by searching for and choosing your Referencing Style from the drop-down menu
  • Add references to build your reference list (or bibliography) and then copy it into the end of your assignment
  • Create a URL to the reference list so you can come back to it later and continue editing it

Important: ZoteroBib is a quick tool and will not save your references unless you click 'Create' under 'Link to this version' at the bottom of the page.

This gives you a unique link to go back to your reference list. If you do not save them using this feature, you will not be able to go back to them later.

Use ZoteroBib

Reference management

For longer-term projects like dissertations or to manage lots of references, you can use a reference management tool. These help you store references, create bibliographies, and manage large sets of references for projects like systematic reviews.

Reference management tools available are:

  • Zotero
  • Mendeley
  • RefWorks
  • EndNote (for staff and researchers)

Which reference management tool you choose will depend on what you need. More information about each tool is available on our Reference Management Tools page.

Referencing policy

The purpose of the University's Referencing Policy is to provide clear guidance for students and staff on the approaches to referencing used by York St John University.

To view our Referencing Policy, please download the document using the link below.

Referencing Policy (docx, 28.4 kB)