Almost all Harvard referencing resources seem to teach that the reference in the list or bibliography should be:

Name, I. (2020). Title in italics. Place: Publisher.

However, Microsoft Word formats it without the parentheseson the year, and uses a comma:

Name, I., 2020. Title in italics. Place: Publisher.

This discrepancy is seen on other citation builders, too. Citethisforme's 'Ultimate Guide' uses the parentheses, but actually building a reference using the builder tool on that same website omits the parentheses. E.g. a completed citation using Citethisforme's citation builder.

My institution requires the parentheses, but changing this behaviour in Microsoft Word means editing the Harvard style.xsl file's formatting for each and every type of reference, which would be very laborious.

Might it still be correct to format it without the parentheses? Is without the brackets more common, and this is why Microsoft Word has chosen this format?

  • 4
    "My institution requires the brackets..." Well, then, that's the answer to your question.
    – Bob Brown
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 13:16
  • 1
    How many types of reference are you actually using? I assume that you just need to edit those types in the .xsl file, and I can't imagine there are that many of them. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, the term Harvard referencing is usually a synonym for the author–date parenthetical referencing in general, similar to how Vancouver refer to numerical style of reference. I am not aware of an authoritative manual for Harvard style that is analogous to Chicago or APA. It is possible that different organisations use the term Harvard for their own author–date styles.

Different author–date styles differs on how citations and the reference list are formatted. For example, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, the reference entry for a book look like this:

Lastname, Firstname, and Lastname, Firstname. 2020. Title of book. Place: Publisher.

while in the 7th edition of APA it looks like this:

Lastname, I., & Lastname, I. (2020). Title of the book. Publisher.

These two are perhaps the better known author–date styles, but there are many different variations used by different publications or organisations. The Zotero Style Repository currently lists over 4,000 different author–date styles. (Maybe your institution style is already listed there.)

If you are required to precisely follow your university style, then the only "correct" format is what the style prescribes. (For a university coursework, many instructors might be satisfied with a close approximation. You might want to check whether the (possibly 6th edition) APA format suffices for your need; it should be included in any reference generation tools.)

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