Dissertation Harvard editing


The Harvard format style is certainly not as common as APA or MLA, but is required for certain fields by some academic departments – usually medical and the sciences. If the format requirement for your dissertation is Harvard, you will need to be very careful to follow the details of this style. It does some have unique features. So, as you perform your editing Harvard format, pay attention to the details of the guides you have been given and ensure that every detail is right before you compete that final draft. Advisors and committees can be pretty picky. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA) have official style guides. There is no “official” style guide for Harvard, and so there may be specific institutional and departmental detail that you must pay attention to. In general, however, these are the style requirements.

Editing Your Harvard Style Dissertation
  • 1

    Physical Format. 

    Title Page

    Like APA, the title page is separate from the rest of the piece, and is numbered as page #1. Here are the specifications:

    1. The title of the piece is centered halfway down the page with the author’s name double-spaced below and centered as well.

    2. Following the title and author, double space four times. Then center the following information, each on its own line: the course title; the instructor, the institution, the city and state/province of the institution, and then the date.

    3. An abbreviation of your title and the page number are right-justified at the top. Your title abbreviation is your header for each page that follows.

    4. There must be 5 spaces between the header and the page number.

    Margins/Justification: Margins should be one-inch all the way around. The work should be left-justified but not right. Double space the entire piece except for long quotes which should be indented and single-spaced.

  • 2

    In-Text Citations. These are relatively easy and do mirror the APA style of citation.

    1. At the end of information you have gathered from a specific source, place the source in parentheses at the end of the content. It should include author’s last name and date of publication). Example: (Jones, 2014). You can also place the reference within the text of our content. Example: According to Jones (2014), hunger in America is not dissipating, and 14 million children face food insecurity every day.

    2. Quotes that are less than 40 words should be included in the text and cited as shown above.

    3. Quotes that are more than 40 words should be indented and single-spaced with the author and date in parenthesis as shown above.

    4. If the source is a journal publication, you should also include the page number(s).

  • 3

    End-of-Text Citations. Anything that is cited within your text must be included in the reference page. These should be alphabetized by author’s last name. If there is no author, then use the first letter of the first word of the source as you alphabetize.

    The first line of your reference is left-justified. If the information goes into a second line, indent that line 6 spaces. Double space between each citation.



    Jones, B., 2014, Childhood Hunger in America, Prentice-Hall, New York, NY.

    Jones, B., Smith, E., 2014, Childhood Hunger in America, Prentice-Hall, New York, NY.

    Jones, B., Smith, E., et. al., 2014, Childhood Hunger in America, Prentice-Hall, New York, NY.

    Journal Articles

    Place the author’s last name first, followed b his/her first initial. This is followed by the year of publication, the title of the article, placed in single quotes, the title of the journal either italicized or underlined (check your department guidelines), the volume number, the issue number (if given), and the page number(s).


    Jones, B., 2014, ‘Childhood Hunger in America,’ American Sociological Journal, IV, 6, pp. 19-23.

    Website Resources

    The order of information is this: author’s last name, first initial, the date of the publication, title in single quotes, publisher (if available), the medium type (article, webinar, etc.), retrieval date, and the URL address.


    Jones, B., 2014, ‘Childhood Hunger in America,’ Journal of American Sociology (online), Retrieved July 6, 2015 from http://www.JournalofAmercianSociology.org/.

  • 4

    Other Resource Types. Obviously, these are not the only types of resources that will be used. There may be research studies, unpublished research works, etc. Your department will have a guide for you to follow. The important thing is this: Pay attention to the detail. Your advisor and/or committee is fully versed on the format it wants, and it is your job to meet those specifications. If you don’t, you will be facing re-writes. Get it right the first time.

Important Considerations
  • 1

    There is no official guide for Harvard formatting. Institutions and departments differ on the details.

  • 2

    The physical look is very important and those guidelines are common to all institutions

  • 3

    Page numbers are just the numbers – no # sign and no period behind them

Do and Don`t
  • Do go over your department guide carefully
  • Do ask if you are unsure about any type of citation
  • Do check each and every in-text citation for accuracy – even a tiny error may be caught
  • Do make sure that your long quotes are set off properly
  • Don’t guess. Use the guide you have been given or ask your advisor
  • Don’t gloss over your formatting edit – every detail is important
  • Don’t edit when you are tired. You may need to do it in chunks
  • Don’t make your abbreviated header title too long – 4-6 words is best
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • The most common mistake is not paying attention to detail. Check every citation carefully.
  • Your end-of-text citations will be the most common places for errors. These need careful review. Check them against the guide you have.
  • Margins and tabs, along with that 5-space requirement between the abbreviated title and the page number, are common places for errors. Get help if you don’t know how to do these things
  • Watch your punctuation in your citations. There is no comma between the author name and the date in your in-text citations. Watch the commas in the end-of-text citations. They are not where you think they should be.
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