I use the harvard referencing style.
One of our assignment instructions is:

The reference list should be in alphabetical order

Lets use the following references as an example

Kopecky, J. and Simperl, E., 2008. Semantic Web Service Offer Discovery for E-commerce.

Sanvido, F., Sanchez, D., Mendoza, A. and Lopez, A., 2011. Dynamic Negotiation Layer for Secure Semantic Service Oriented Architectures.

Following the instruction I was given to order the references, is it generally implied that I should order the references by the first authors surname: Kopecky then Sanvido.
Or is it implied that I should order by the paper titles: "Dynamic Negotiation Layer..." then "Semantic Web Service..."

1 Answer 1


From Harvard website:

The entries in the list should be in alphabetical order by the author's last name [sic].

As pointed out by aeismail in the comment, the second criterion is the date:

Works by the same author should be ordered chronologically, from oldest to most recent

Of course, you might have many articles with the same author and same year, in that case, they say that:

If your reference list includes multiple works by the same author in the same year, identify them in your parenthetical citations and in your reference list by a lowercase letter after the year, assigning each letter in alphabetical order by the title of the work

  • 1
    That instruction should really be "authors' last names," since it's not just the first author's last name that gets used in the alphabetization process. Year should be the second sorting criterion.
    – aeismail
    Jan 9, 2013 at 19:29
  • 1
    @aeismail Thanks for pointing out that I missed the 'Year' as sorting criterion. But thank you so much more for allowing me to add a (sic) on a quote from Harvard website.
    – Zenon
    Jan 9, 2013 at 22:42
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    I sic'ed your [sic]—it should have gone after "name." :-) [And, even more entertainingly, the sample that website shows doesn't even follow that rule correctly, as two articles are listed out of order!]
    – aeismail
    Jan 9, 2013 at 23:08
  • 1
    Just as an addendum, even outside Harvard style referencing, it is typical to use the same sorting order. Jan 10, 2013 at 0:48

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