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What to reference

References should be included in your assignments wherever you have employed the work of others, whether you are quoting a passage directly or using their ideas to build an argument.

Referencing facts and information

Much of the information you will use in assignments at university is not the work of any particular scholar. There will, however, be many occasions where you will find information for the first time in a certain book or article. Even though the fact may be new to you, it was not that particular author's exclusive discovery, and there is therefore no need to cite your source for the information.


Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on 30th November 1874 (Jenkins 2001, p.5).

Winston Churchill's birthplace and birth date were not the exclusive discovery of Roy Jenkins, in whose book this information was found, and so there is no need to cite the source for this particular fact. You might, however, want to cite Jenkins' book as a general source of information on the life of Churchill.

However, some factual information is the exclusive discovery of one or a group of scholars. It may, for example, be the result of experiment or research, or perhaps the explanation of an archaeological find. Authors will normally make it explicit where this is the case.


In the Roman province of Belgica, the average size of cattle increased by up to 20 per cent during the Roman period, indicating market orientated production (Lepetz 1996 cited Woolf 2001, p.56).

In this example, the fact that cattle increased in size during the Roman period in Belgica is the exclusive discovery of Lepetz, and so must be referenced.

If you are unsure whether a particular piece of information is the work of a particular scholar, it is always best to be safe and include a reference anyway. Your lecturer will point out where references are unnecessary when the assignment is marked.