References and citations

What is referencing?

Referencing is an important skill which helps others trace the sources and ideas you have used in your assignment or research and ensures that you give proper acknowledgement to the work of others.

There are two elements which make up a reference:

  • An indication within the text of your work where you have mentioned the ideas or works of others. This is the citation or "in-text citation".
  • A full description of the source used, in your reference list or bibliography at the end of your work.

Referencing is one of the skills you can develop as part of the Research and Critical Thinking element of the Personal Best skills programme.

Why do I need to reference?

Accurate citation and referencing is one of the keys to maintaining your academic integrity. At university you are expected to reference your work as part of the process of scholarly research and this is an essential academic requirement.

By providing enough information for others to find the resources and ideas you have used the reader can check the accuracy and validity of the evidence and arguments you have presented.

Referencing also demonstrates that you have read widely and gives credit to the authors whose works and ideas you have used.

How do I reference?

The University does not have a standard referencing style and there are a number of different conventions to choose from. It is therefore essential that you check with your department or tutor which referencing style you are required to use for your work. Information on this is often in your departmental handbook on LEARN.

Do be aware though that there may be requirements for you to use a specific referencing style for a certain piece of work so always check the assessment guidelines. Good referencing is clear, careful, consistent and complete.

Referencing guides

The Library has created a series of referencing guides which offer examples of how to cite and reference the most common resources using a variety of referencing styles used at the University. These guides are available on LEARN module Academic Integrity:

Module: Academic Integrity , Section: Referencing | Learn (

Be aware that you not only need to reference text and ideas that you use in your work but diagrams, lines of code, tables, graphs and photos too.

For more examples of how to cite and reference a wider range of resources in a variety of styles the Cite Them Right Online platform is a useful resource. 

Sources of help

Your Academic Librarian offers support and guidance on good referencing practice and can help you apply an appropriate style to a particular reference. Please note that Academic Librarians are not able to proofread or check entire student bibliographies.

There are a number of useful Learn modules which provide further help on referencing. Visit the Academic Research Kit (ARK) module which includes a tutorial on referencing and if you are undertaking a final year project or dissertation the Learn module on Dissertation and Project Success has additional guidance.

Reference management

Reference management software enables you to create a personal database of references which can then be automatically formatted for use in your work. Mendeley is the referencing software that Loughborough University recommends and supports.