Skip to Main Content

Understanding References on Reading Lists: Home

A brief guide to help you work with reading list references

Understanding the references on your reading list will allow you to easily search and find the specified items.

Although reference styles differ across disciplines, the basic elements of a reference (author, title, publication date etc.) should be the same whatever the referencing style, even though the formatting and word order may differ.

Below are some examples to help you identify the principal elements of each type of reference, together with some clues on the type of resource referred to. There are also some tips on searching the library catalogue for different types of resources. The examples use Harvard referencing style but can be applied to most of the commonly used referencing styles.

Please check the Referencing Libguide for help with how to reference and information on different referencing styles.

Example: Book reference


· There is publication information (place of publication and publisher).

· There are no volume or issue numbers.

· If there is more than one edition, there may be an edition statement.

· The book title is often in italics.


Example: Book chapter reference


· There is publication information (place of publication and publisher).

· There are two author statements: the chapter author and the book editor.

· There are two titles: the chapter title and the book title.

· The word in indicates that the referenced material appears within a book.


Tips for searching for book chapters on the library catalogue

· To search by author: search for the book editor, not the chapter author.

· To search by title: search for the book title, not the chapter title.


Example: Internet reference

There are of course many different types of Web documents, such as journal articles, home pages or blogs; the reference for each type of document contains a specific combination of elements.    

However, common elements include:

· The URL, i.e. the address where the document can be found.

· The date the document was last  accessed.

Tips for searching for Web documents

· Web documents are not catalogued on the library catalogue. To access a document, enter the URL into your browser.

· URLs can be quite long and may be reproduced incorrectly on your reading list. Also, web documents are sometimes moved or deleted. In either case, the URL on your reading list may no longer work; if this happens, check with your tutor.


Example: Journal article reference


· There are volume, issue and page or article numbers.

· There is no publication information (i.e. place of publication; publisher).

· There are two titles: the article title and the journal title (often in italics).


Tip for searching for journal articles on the library catalogue

· Search for the Journal title, as individual journal articles are not catalogued.

· The catalogue record for the journal will indicate the library's holdings, both print and electronic as available.


Example: Conference paper reference

The papers presented at scholarly conferences are often published as collections in printed books and/or online; these collections are usually known as proceedings.

It can be easy to confuse a reference for a conference paper with one for a journal article. The following clues will help you to tell the difference.


· One or more of the following words often appear in the title of the conference: meeting, papers, proceedings, conference.

· There may be two author statements: the paper author and the proceedings editor.

· There are usually no volume or issue numbers.


Tips for searching for conference papers on the library catalogue

· To search by author: search for the name of the editor  of the proceedings, not the paper author.

· To search by title: search for the conference title, not the paper title.


Example: Thesis reference


· The level of the thesis is given (e.g. MPhil or PhD).

· The name of the awarding institution is given.

Tips for searching for theses on the library catalogue

· You can search by Author or Title.

· Print theses are kept in closed-access stores; if you wish to consult a print thesis, please ask library staff. Theses from 2008 and later are available online in our institutional repository


Contact Us or Give Feedback

University of Exeter LibGuide is licensed under CC BY 4.0