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Harvard Style Of Writing Dissertation Help

Composing A Winning Dissertation Proposal In The Harvard Style

An extremely important part to academic writing is accurately citing or referencing your sources. Using great sources adds credibility to your work, and appropriately assigning credit to the words or ideas of others helps you avoid accusations of plagiarism. Using the Harvard citation style is a very popular way of citing content when writing a dissertation proposal. Harvard is considered an “author, date” system where the author of a source is listed in parentheses followed by the year of publication. Here are a few things you need to know about composing a great one:

What Are You Trying to Accomplish?

Before you get started with your dissertation proposal draft you should ask yourself what it is you are trying to accomplish with your research and written work. Think of all the reasons you have for having chosen this particular topic, always keeping in mind that the purpose of this document is to get approval from your graduate advisor. Take your list of reasons and keep alongside of you as you start your draft.

Your Proposal is Not an Essay

Remember, that you won’t be writing an in-depth essay on your chosen topic. If you are referencing another work you shouldn’t include long blocks of quotes. It’s best if you paraphrase someone else’s idea and follow the Harvard style as explained above. Your proposal shouldn’t be more than 10 – 15 pages long, but check before you get started since this number varies from discipline to discipline.

Know the Formatting Requirements

Your discipline will also determine the type of format your dissertation proposal should follow. Be sure that everything you submit adheres to the proper requirements. Check with your department for these requirements, or try to get some samples from published and approved works. If you are still in doubt ask your advisor for some assistance. You will be spending the greater part of a year working with your advisor so it’s a good idea you two become familiar with one another.

Have Your Work Peer Reviewed

Lastly, if you want to be certain that you’ve used the Harvard style appropriately in your dissertation proposal, you can always have it reviewed by your peers and friends. Remember that your course work is not a competition. You should work with one another to work through a lot of the details that could make or break your document’s approval. Sit down in a group and give each other feedback. This exercise is sure to go a long way in improving your chances for success.

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Harvard referencing style uses an author-date approach and does not focus on one specific type of essay. There are some rules relating to citations depending on the number of contributors to the work, and if you are citing a quotation. Harvard style footnotes are instead cited in short, parenthetical (in brackets) notes within the text.

Table Of Contents

General Reference Guidelines

Harvard writing style has a very distinct set of guidelines that you must follow.

  • Clear font. Recommended: Times New Roman 12pt font
  • Double spaced
  • Title page
  • Paper’s title in a header
  • Page number
  • Citations page titled “References”
  • 1” margins

Title Page

Harvard formatting requires a very specific title page:

  • The title of your essay should be halfway down the page in all capital letters.
  • Three lines down should be your name (the name of the author). This is without capital letters.
  • Four lines down and then put the name of the class
  • The following line should have the professor.
  • Next line is the name of the school, then the city and country/state where it’s located
  • On the line after that should be the date.

The header of your essay should contain a short description of the title and a page number. A partial title and page number in the Harvard writing style could look like:

Red Scare 1

Note several key components, the header should be:

  • Right justified
  • Express the main idea of the essay in a shortened form
  • There should be exactly 5 spaces between the header and the

In-Text Citation

The Citation “Harvard Style” is another name given to the “Author-Date Style” of referencing and citation.

  • In-text citations in this style usually appear in the following format: (Author’s Last Name Year of publication, Page Number(s))

    • Example: (Gomez 2016, p. 89-91)
  • If you use the author’s name in a sentence, you can omit it from the brackets. The citation should be right next to the name.

    • Example: Gomez (2016, p. 89-91) states that quinoa is a great source of protein (2016, p. 89-91)
  • If you reference an entire work, just include the author’s name and the year of publication.

    • Example: Quinoa plantations has brought economic benefits to Bolivia (Gomez 2016).
  • When citing a source that you have not read yourself, you would cite the source you read in the reference list and add “as cited by” in your actual essay.

    • Example: Pitt (as cited by Gomez 2016, p. 82) states that “quinoa is the perfect protein meal on a movie set.”
      If a source has two or three authors, all should be listed in brackets.
    • Example: Quinoa is the future of nutrition (Gomez, Summers, and Brinker, 2016)
  • If a source has more than three authors, you need to cite the last name of the first author, followed by an “et al.” as well as the publishing year.

    • Example: A source of protein to replace meat products was a dream for many people for many years, and finally, that dream can be reached (Gomez et al. 2016)
  • In the case that you have no author, you can place the title with the date in parenthesis.

    • Example: Regardless of the environmental damage, people continue to eat meat; up to 50% of the world’s water is consumed by livestock (Quinoa: The Future, 2016).
  • When a date is not included in the source, just omit the information when citing your it in your essay.

    • Example: 90% of nutritional value that is found in meat is also found in quinoa seeds. The remaining 10% can be replaced by eggs: another great source of protein (Gomez).


An essay outline is a great tool to use if you want to keep track of your sources. You can do so by listing a point and adding information (Author name, Date) in the subheading.
Harvard format template:

  • Your information goes here (Author, Date)

  • While you write an outline in a citation Harvard style, make sure your information has a structure, and your points are of equal importance.

Outline Template

  • Introduction
  • Main point/Thesis
    • Main point of paragraph 1
    • Main point of paragraph 2
    • Main point of paragraph 3
  • Body
  • Main point #1
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Transition to Main Point #2
  • Main point #2
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Transition to Main Point #3
  • Main point #3
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
    • Information (author, date)
  • Conclusion
    • Summary of your paper
    • Restate your thesis.
  • Bibliography: Here you can input your bibliographical citations or paste your URL’s so you can access pages easier. This is best done in a bullet-point list.


Your reference list appears at the very end of your essay on a separate page. Harvard style references should be prefaced by “References” on the very top and center of the page without quotation marks. While citing, if the name is not available, then the title, in quotation marks, would replace it.

Unlike other citation styles, when an author is cited, only the first initial of the first name is listed. The Harvard bibliography style limits you use only references that you cited in your work (unlike other citation styles, where you cite further reading material). Additionally, your sources should be listed in alphabetical order with a hanging indent.

Here are examples from our professional writer on how to do a Harvard referencing for the most common types of text:

  • Books: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Title. Edition. (Only include the edition if it is not the first edition) The city published: Publisher, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). Birds in Flight. New York: Penguin Publish. 90-104
  • Books with two to three authors: Last name, First initial. and Last name, First initial. (Year published). Title. Edition. (Only include the edition if it is not the first edition) The city published: Publisher, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. Peters, K. (1983) Birds in Flight. New York: Penguin Publish. 90-104
  • Book chapters: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Chapter title. In: First initial. Last name, ed., Book Title, 1st ed.* City: Publisher, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). Penguins In: Birds in Flight. New York: Penguin Publish. 90-104
  • Journal Articles: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Article title. Journal, Volume (Issue), Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). A Bird In Flight: Aerodynamics. New York Times, 65(2) 90-104.
  • Newspaper Articles: Last name, First initial. (Year published). Article title. Newspaper, Page(s).

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). A Bird In Flight: Aerodynamics. New York Times, 90-104.
  • Websites: Last name, First initial (Year published). Page title. [online] Website name. Available at: URL [Accessed Day Mo. Year].

    • Example: Johnson, M. (1839). A Bird In Flight: Aerodynamics. Birds.org. Available at: birds.org/........ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]

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When it comes to citing things Harvard style or author-date style, it is crucial to check with your instructor on specifics of this style. Unfortunately, there is no official way. There are a couple of different schools that cite it such as the University of Western Australia and Cardiff University. In case your instructor is unavailable and can not provide you with the needed information, my advice would be to check out their websites and make sure you’re doing it right. No matter how you decide to do your citations, make sure to stay consistent in your formatting. In the Harvard citation style, you have more freedom to format your work the way you like. Choose the way you want to do it but stick to it! Also, make safe choices when it comes to formatting your paper. For example, as the article states, using the Times New Roman font is recommended, but I would personally strongly encourage it. Best of luck with your essay!

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