Referencing and using EndNote referencing software

What is referencing?

In academic writing, when you refer to an idea or information created by someone else, you should always include a reference to the publication in which it appears. This acknowledgement of the sources you have used includes a citation within your text and a list of references at the end.

Why reference?

  • To give academic credibility to your work: to show that you have consulted relevant sources and that you are familiar with the relevant research
  • To give due credit to the creators of ideas and information
  • To enable your readers to consult the works you have referenced
  • To enable your tutors to see that you have used genuine sources
  • To avoid being accused of plagiarism: representing someone else’s ideas as if they were your own. For more information, see the library’s guide to plagiarism

When to reference?

You should reference any source of information you use, including web pages, emails, personal correspondence as well as books, chapters and journal articles.

"If the information comes from outside your own head, then cite the source."

…or follow the rule of uncertainty…

"If in doubt, cite it."

When writing ask yourself, "Will the person reading this think that this information originated with me when it did not?" If the answer is "Yes", then you need a citation.

There is one exception to all this: Common knowledge.

This includes general information that can be found in many sources and is known or remembered by many people. Examples might include: 'Common sayings', 'Commonly reported facts', 'easily observable information'.

From: Using sources Effectively/Harris (2017) p.107

And finally, as well as other people's work, whatever you've written before becomes a potential source that you should cite when you borrow from it. During your time at University any work submitted for assessment that forms part of your final award may require a citation if re-used. If in doubt always check with your supervisor.

How to reference

There are three principle ways of working sources in to a piece of writing:


A shorter restatement or rewriting of a source's ideas using your own language whilst reflecting the source accurately.


  • To simplify
  • To eliminate extra information
  • To make a minor point
  • To convey an overall meaning


  • Read the source several times
  • Write an outline in your own words
  • Rearrange the outline to suit your needs (change of emphasis?)
  • Write the summary (without looking at the original!)
  • Check against the original
  • Add citation


A restatement or rewriting of a source's ideas of similar length using your own language whilst reflecting the source accurately.


  • Rearranging for emphasis
  • Simplifying language
  • Clarifying meaning
  • To fit in with your own style
  • To keep the same length


  • Read the source several times
  • Write an outline in your own words
  • Rearrange the outline for emphasis/clarity
  • Write the paraphrase (without looking at the original!)
  • Check against the original
  • Add citation


A word-for-word rewriting of a source's ideas.


  • Effective language that cannot be improved
  • Direct support for a case you're making
  • Expert declaration
  • Controversial statement (to distance yourself!)


  • Verbatim
  • Enclose in double quotation marks
  • Indent for longer quotations
  • Insert an ellipsis (…) if omitting words
  • Add citation

The mechanics

Include a citation in your text at the point where you refer to another person's work. Include a reference list (works you have cited in the text) at the end of your assignment and/or a bibliography (works you have consulted but may not have referred to in the text).

Referencing styles determine how your citation appears in the text and how you set out your list of references at the end of your work.

  • Use a standard referencing style to enable your readers to find the relevant information easily
  • The styles that are most commonly used in UK universities are Harvard (Author-Date) and Vancouver (numbered list).  Arts students may be recommended to use the MRHA (Modern Humanities Research Association) Style. Law students may be asked to use Oscola (Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities)
  • There are many different referencing styles and it is important to ensure that you are following the appropriate style for your subject. Check with your tutor if you are unclear as to which style you should be using

Useful tools

Cite Them Right - print copies also available in all Libraries.

EndNote - University-supported reference management software.

Mendeley – alternative reference management software.

Help and training

For referencing help contact your Subject Librarian.

We run training sessions on EndNote Online for Undergraduates and Taught Postgraduates and EndNote Desktop sessions for Researchers and Staff throughout the year. Please check Library Events.