When I paraphrase a direct idea from someone, I'd just end the sentence with (John 2010, p. 10). However and sometimes (especially while analyzing to support my claim), I use the citation signal known as 'see' to support an idea.

For example: The company can benefit from its long history (see Company X 2002, para. 1) (where the source 'Company X' does NOT clearly state the idea of the company benefiting from its history but rather 'agree' with my statement since it states that the history of the company dates back to 100 years ago for example).

From Wikipedia:

“See” indicates that the cited authority clearly supports, but does not directly state the proposition given.

I see that such signals are mainly used in legal matters, is their usage in regular academic writing acceptable? I'm using Harvard.

  • 1
    It's certainly common. If you are writing for a particular publication, then your safest approach is to check for similar examples within other papers. But from my own experience, I doubt that anyone will bat an eyelid. Jun 9, 2016 at 10:17
  • I am using it in my classes assignments and analysis where I can support my opinions, an example of that would be the age of the company above.
    – R. AS.
    Jun 9, 2016 at 17:38
  • In that case you should be fine to use it. Jun 9, 2016 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


That is the clear intention on how the word 'see' is to be used before citation, i.e., to support the claim you make. However, it is not always the case that the common reader would be able to differentiate the intention of use. That is why I usually state it clear when writing the similar case.

The company can benefit from its long history. X et al. (Company X 2002, para. 1) support this claim.

But, it is perfectly acceptable to use the formal norms of writing; the usage of 'see' as you've stated. Just keep in mind the expertise of the readers you are targeting.

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