Can You Use Footnotes in Harvard Referencing?

Plagiarism and violation of copyright-related laws are serious irregularities to commit in the education and publishing arenas.

These irregularities are forms of cheating, a severe violation of academic integrity. One of the proven methods of avoiding plagiarism is referencing your work.

Referencing involves acknowledging the authors and source documents from which you generated your content by employing in-text citations and a bibliography at the bottom page of your work.

There are multiple referencing styles, and the Harvard Referencing Style is one of the major ones. This article will concentrate more on this style by asking some fundamental questions, such as can you use footnotes in Harvard Referencing?

Can You Use Footnotes in Harvard Referencing?

The Harvard referencing style does not allow the use of footnotes as part of the reference. Under this system, instead of using footnotes and end notes, you can only cite your sources in brackets (brief parenthetical notes within the text).

In Harvard referencing, you can only use footnotes for clarification and additional comments but not for referencing.

As mentioned earlier, the in-text citations in Harvard referencing employ brief parenthetical notes. Here, you can only include the author’s name (their surname and initials) and the date and year the source document was published.

Where necessary, you should add the page numbers too. You will include the rest of the details on the reference list at the end of your paper.

A reference list, also known as the bibliography, includes a comprehensive listing of all the sources you used in producing your paper. Some of the necessary information that you ought to admit in your reference list is details of the author, the publication date of the source document, and the title of that source.

A Harvard bibliography should be on a separate page at the bottom of your paper with the material arranged alphabetically by author name.

Can You Use Endnotes in Harvard Referencing?

Endnotes are not an integral part of the Harvard referencing style. Instead of employing endnotes, the Harvard referencing style employs a reference list at the bottom page of the page.

Remember, endnotes offer a brief citation of the various sources you used in your work. However, the bibliography provides a comprehensive list of all the sources you used to produce your paper.

Endnotes are common in other referencing styles such as MLA, APA, Turabian, and Chicago. In these styles, endnotes are crucial because they provide copyright information, show the citations to the source documents, and offer the reader additional information on particular parts of the paper’s content.

Nevertheless, even after using the endnotes in these referencing styles, you should include a reference list.

The Harvard referencing style is pretty economical for both the authors and the readers. This style disallows duplicating the same content in the endnotes and the reference list.

Instead of readers regularly checking footnotes and endnotes, they only have to check the bibliography at the bottom of the paper to retrieve the complete reference of the article.

Which Referencing Styles Allow the Use of Footnotes?

Authors can use two types of notes in their papers; footnotes that convey bibliographic information and those that offer additional information such as explanations or evidence.

The referencing styles that allow these footnotes in whichever form are

  • Oxford
  • Turabian
  • Chicago
  • APA
  • MLA

In Oxford, Turabian, and Chicago referencing styles, footnotes are used to make in-text citations in the research papers, essays, and the other academic pieces of writing. Here, the footnotes convey the bibliographic information. On the other hand, footnotes in the APA and MLA referencing styles offer content for copyright information.

How to Use Footnotes in Academic Writing

Footnotes are sources of brief explanations, comments, or references, written at the foot of the text they support. One can identify them in the text through numerals or symbols.

In academic papers, footnotes’ purpose is to recognize the sources of quotes and data the author has employed in their writing and offer parenthetical information, copyright permissions, and background information.

The precise arrangement of footnotes in your work will depend on the referencing style you are following. For example, how you format your footnotes will differ in MLA, the Chicago style, or the APA referencing style.

In MLA and APA, footnotes are only used to provide brief supplemental information about the paper. Here, you will place the superscript numerals and symbols within the text extrinsic of any punctuation marks, whether full stops or commas. This statement means you can only add the superscript numerals after commas and full stops.

On the other hand, the Chicago referencing style utilizes footnotes most. Here, you use footnotes as a form of in-text referencing. You convey the author’s name and the source’s publication date in parentheses after a clause, phrase, or sentence to which the footnote refers.


There are multiple referencing styles that authors can employ in writing different writing pieces. However, these referencing styles can be confusing to these authors because each style has its set of rules and procedures different from the other styles.

Such difficulties have led to the creation of this article. After reading this article, there is no doubt that you can comfortably answer questions like; can you use footnotes in Harvard referencing? Or, which referencing styles allow the use of footnotes? Utilize the information in this article, and be sure to write a better academic paper next time.

Here is a guide to help with Harvard referencing