Guidelines to Harvard Writing Standards

Harvard writing standards are mostly used in disciplines associated with the humanities, philosophy, and behavioral sciences. The Harvard Writing Standards system uses the author-date format and a stand-alone references page.

General format

  • Work should be typed on paper with 1-inch margins all around in Times New Roman or Arial fonts. A font size of 12 pt. is recommended.
  • Place your title before the main text of your work and aligned centered on the page. Except for the prepositions within your title, all words should be capitalized. The title’s text should not be bolded, italicized, or underlined.
  • On the right-hand corner of the header, insert your last name and a page number separated by a space.
  • Typed text is flush with the left margin while the first sentence of each paragraph is indented by half an inch. Each line of text is separated by double spacing.


  • Use subheadings to partition your work. Subheadings are Level 1 or Level 2 headings which divide the whole work into sections and divide sections into sub-sections respectively.
  • Level headings resemble the work’s title in format and a new line of text after the heading is indented by half an inch from the left margin.
  • Level 2 headings, like Level 1 headings are capitalized. They are aligned to the left margin and are also italicized. The first line after these headings is indented by half an inch as usual.

The Title Page

  • This is the first page of your work before the main text and is also known as the cover page.
  • The title should be upper-case, centered, and 1/3 of the way down the page.
  • Your name and course should be centered 2/3 of the way down the same page and after that, your tutor’s name, institution name, and then date.


  • In-text citations are made up of the author’s last name/surname and the publication’s date separated by a space and enclosed in parentheses. Where no date is given, the acronym n. d. is used.
  • For direct quotations, use quotation marks and add the page number within the parentheses, separated from the year of publication by a comma like this (Surname 1990, p.1). For websites, include the paragraph number using a “para.” prefix.
  • When the author’s name is used in a sentence, enclose only the year of publication and page or paragraph number in parentheses.
  • For authors mentioned in a secondary source, cite the original author but mention that said author is “cited in” the source being used, enclosed in parentheses. In the references list, provide information only for the author in parentheses.
  • References should be alphabetized based on the first letter of the entry.
  • Each reference entry begins on a new line, flush with the left margin with no indents and separated from the next by double-spacing.
  • Capitalize book, chapter, and web article titles’ first letters; as for journals and newspapers, capitalize all the main words.
  • All authors of the same work must be listed in entries.

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