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English Language and Literature: Referencing

Introduction to referencing

The English Faculty does not impose a mandatory referencing system, though your tutors may communicate their own preferences to you in the matter of style. It is compulsory, however, to present your work in a form that complies with academic standards of precision, clarity, and fullness of reference.

Whatever system you employ, please remember these three essentials:

  1. Consistency. Ensure that you are using the same style and format for your references throughout your work.
  2. Clarity. Remember that references are included primarily as a guide for the reader. The more explicit you make your citations, the easier it is for anyone reading your work to find your sources.
  3. Common sense. You will at some stage have to deal with a citation or a reference from a source which does not easily fit into a prescribed system. On these occasions, employing your own judgement will probably enable you to generate a reference in line with the others in your document.

The Bodleian Libraries provide a range of services to support students in their referencing. For support with referencing please contact: 


The Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) style guide is available online as well as to download.  It can also be found on SOLO.


There are two styles of MHRA referencing:

  1. MHRA (general)
  2. The author-date system (see below)

Both of the systems have two points of reference. Firstly, each time you use a quotation, or any other information taken directly from your source, you must place a reference within the text (in parentheses) or in a footnote. Secondly, at the end of your work you will need to include a full bibliography detailing all sources. This is the case even for a system like the first which also provides full bibliographic detail within the text.

Your bibliography may not count towards any word limits for assessed work, but references in the text and in footnotes usually do, so you might like to consider a system (like the author-date system) which reduces the number of words contained in the reference.

In-text citation (author-date system)

In-text citation should give the author name, publication date, and page number or page range. For example:

  • Gallagher (2019: 235) states that English Faculty students can use any referencing style.
  • Students in the English Faculty can use any referencing style (Gallagher, 2019: 235).


In the author-date system all references must be included in a bibliography at the end. The bibliography should be in alphabetical order by names of author(s) or editor(s), followed by date of publication, as in the following examples:

Author/editor. Date. Title (Place of Publication: Publisher)

  • English, Jocelyn. 2018. Referencing at Oxford (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Gallagher, Jen. 2001. Referencing in the English Faculty (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


A quick guide to using MLA is available online at the link below. It is also available on SOLO and can be found on the shelves in the English Faculty Library at LB2369 MLA 2016.

In-Text Citation
Citations in-text contain the authors surname and page number or page range. For example:

  • In their 2019 book, Gallagher (235) states that English Faculty students can use any referencing style.
  • Students in the English Faculty can use any referencing style (Gallagher 235).

MLA uses a works-cited list at the end of the document. This should contain all the references cited in your work. The information needed will depend on the type of source (book, webpage, film etc). For full guidance you should consult the MLA Handbook.

Cite Them Right

A good way to check your references for a range of materials is to use Cite Them Right. If you're away from the university network you will need to sign on with your SSO via SOLO.


As with referencing, the format of your bibliography may vary according to the system you employ. Again, the most important thing is to maintain consistency in the way you present your sources in your bibliography. Here are some tips:

  • If you have been using the MHRA referencing system, each item in your bibliography can be presented in much the same way as for the first full reference.
  • Page numbers are not required in a bibliography unless you are listing an article or chapter that appears within another publication.
  • Your bibliography should be ordered alphabetically and thereafter by date of publication.
  • Do not include full stops after each item in the list.
  • It is common to divide your sources into primary and secondary works.

Reference Management Software

Reference management software, also known as citation management software, allows you to:

  • collect references
  • store references in a web account or on your desktop
  • organise references
  • add notes to your references
  • link to full text, web pages and documents
  • cite your references and create bibliographies

Some also have additional features such as:

  • sharing your references and collaboration tools
  • PDF highlighting
  • social networking

Training and support to help you manage your references is available at the links below.