A reference list is a list of sources that you have cited in your assignment. So, for example, if you've paraphrased or quoted from a particular book, you will have written an in-text citation at the point you've made a reference in your assignment to which you then need to write a corresponding reference in your reference list.
The difference between an in-text citation and a reference is that the reference contains all the necessary publication details the reader needs to precisely identify the source. Different types of publications or sources require that different types of information be included but the common elements are:
Author | Year of publication | Title | Publication Details
The reason in-text citations are used is that it wouldn't be practical to add a full reference into the body of your assignment each time you cite a source. Think of the in-text citation as a shorthand and an anchor to your full reference.
In-text citation example:
(Cole and Kelly, 2015)
Corresponding reference in reference list:
Cole, G. and Kelly, P. (2015) Management Theory and Practice. Andover: Cengage Learning EMEA.
It's really important to be accurate, as adhering to this convention ensures the reader can identify the exact source you're using. If you're not accurate when you reference you will lose marks and, in a worst-case scenario, you could be flagged as displaying poor academic practice.
Your reference list always appears at the end of your assignment. It's good practice to add your reference list to the last page of your assignment as soon as you start writing. This way you can write the corresponding reference to each in-text citation as you're writing and lessen the chances of losing your references or writing them incorrectly.
Remember, incorrect citations cost marks!
You also need to list your references in alphabetical order, by surname. For example:
Johnsen, A. (2015) ‘Strategic Management Thinking and Practice in the Public Sector: A Strategic Planning for All Seasons?’, Financial Accountability & Management. 31(3), pp. 243-268.
Johnson, G. et al. (2014) Exploring Strategy: Text and Cases. 10th edn. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Meithe, J. and Pothier, D. (2016) ‘Brexit: What’s at stake for the financial sector?’, DIW Economic Bulletin. 6 (31), pp. 364-372.
You can easily sort your reference list in alphabetical order using the 'Sort' option in Word, as below:
1. Select your references
2.Select the 'Sort' A-Z icon
3. Select to sort by Paragraphs and Text in Ascending order (these should be the defaults)
4. Click OK to sort
To create a reference for a book, you must include the following:
Bratton, J. and Gold, J. (2012) Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice. 5th edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
To create a reference for a journal article, you must include the following:
Johnsen, A. (2015) 'Strategic Management Thinking and Practice in the Public Sector: A Strategic Planning for All Seasons?', Financial Accountability & Management, 31(3), pp. 243-268.
There could be many different types of sources that you wish to reference in your assignments. An excellent guide is Cite Them Right and there are multiple copies available in the library both for loan and reference. This guide is very useful and includes an index for sources you might need to cite using the Harvard referencing style.