Author-date system of referencing
The name of the author-date referencing system points to one of its distinguishing features. The name Harvard system suggests that Harvard University uses it; in fact it does not. (See Harvard referencing for more.)
- The author-date system is designed to interrupt a writer's words as little as possible, and aims to limit the information to two words in the first instance: the name of the author, and the date of publication of the source being cited. This is the tag in the text. A reader can use it to find the full bibliographical details in the List of References. For more detail on how to put a reference in the text of your writing, see Author-date in your text.
- The two word tag (the author's surname and the date of publication) points to a List of References at the end of the paper or book being written. The Reference List gives all the bibliographical information needed for the reader to track down the source being used, whether to check it or to find further information. For more detail, see Author-date list of references.
To put that in another way:
- For your academic work, your reader needs to know where any checkable source can be checked. In the author-date system, you simply use the [surname of the] author and the date [of publication] as the tag in the text for any source that you want to refer to for any idea or fact. When you use a quotation, or the sort of detailed fact like a statistic that comes from one Table, you use the [surname of the] author, the date [of publication] and the number of the page [on which the quotation or statistic etc can be found] as the tag. Readers who want to check the reference then go to your List of References for the full bibliographical details.
(The reason for preferring the name author-date system is that Harvard University (in the United States) does not use this system.)