Common referencing styles and their differences

By Priya Chetty on July 17, 2014

The references list should include details for all your citations in your paper. List of references can be of different types, some may want it in chronological order of year, while others want it in alphabetical order of author’s last name. A reference list is always required when you cite other people’s work in your paper.

APA, MLA and Harvard reference styles are different from each other. Therefore, their end list of references also looks different. However, some elements are common among all.

Common elements in different referencing styles

Typically, each reference in the end list contains the following information:

  1. Name of the author.
  2. Year of publication.
  3. Name of the book/ journal/ article.
  4. Publishing company/ journal name.
  5. Location of publication/ journal issue no. and volume no.

For example

The literature in buyer-seller relationships suggests that one critical dimension that determines the type of interaction in which business engages is the temporal perspective associated with that interaction (Anderson and Narus 1990, Dabholkar and Neeley 1998). Contract-based interactions, individual gain (Dabholkar and Neeley 1998) and hierarchical governance (Haugland 1999) promote short-term relationships. The definition of Relationship marketing does not only include the buyer-seller relationship concept, which is central to marketing, but it also includes other stakeholder relationships like competitors in a strategic alliance (Rao and Perry 2002). Moreover, the scope of RM are relationships, networks and interaction, where RM emphasizes a long-term interactive relationship between the provider and the customer, as well as long-term profitability (Gummesson 1994).

There are a total of 5 sources cited in the above paragraph. The end reference list (according to Harvard format) will look like this:

  • Anderson, J. C. and Narus, J. A. (1990). A model of distributor firm and manufacturer firm. Journal of Marketing. 54, 42.
  • Dabholkar, P. A. and Neeley, S. M. (1998). Managing interdependency: A taxonomy for business-to-business relationships. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 13, 439.
  • Gummesson, E. (1994) Making relationship marketing operational. International journal of service industry management 5, 5-20.
  • Haugland, S. A. (1999). Factors influencing the duration of international buyer-seller relationship. Journal of business research 46, 273-280.
  • Rao, S. and Perry, C. (2002) Thinking about relationship marketing: where are we now? Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 17, 598-614.

However, this pattern is not the same for Harvard, MLA and APA. Therefore, you are suggested to read each of them thoroughly. As said earlier different reference styles are different from each other. To know about them you will have to individually read about them.

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