How to Cite an Ebook in Harvard Referencing
Currently, most people picture a papery cuboid when they hear “book.” But the rise of the ebook means this might change before long. Ebooks are popular with students, for instance, as they’re easy to access (and you don’t have to carry them to lectures). And if you want to cite an ebook in a college paper, you may need to know how this works in Harvard referencing.
In-text citations for ebooks require you to give the author’s surname and a year of publication in parentheses:
Extinction has an important role in evolution (Darwin, 2012).
Remember to cite the year the ebook version was released, even if an earlier print edition is available (e.g., the Darwin text cited here was originally published in 1860). As with other books, there’s no need to repeat the author’s name in the citation if they’re already named in the text. And if quoting a source, you should still give page numbers:
According to Darwin (2012, p. 146) extinction has played a role in “widening the intervals between the several groups in each class.”
If the ebook uses section titles or paragraph numbers instead of page numbers, you can give these as a pinpoint citation when quoting a source:
Extinction has played a role in “widening the intervals between the several groups in each class” (Darwin, 2007, para. 432).
The key thing is that your reader can find the quoted text.
Reference List: Online Ebook
With Harvard referencing, the exact details to include in the reference list for an ebook may depend on where you found it. Generally, though, the format is:
Author, Initial(s). (Year) Title of Book [Format], Place of publication: Publisher. Available at ebook source and/or URL [Accessed date].
If you access an ebook online, then, your reference would look like this:
Darwin, C. (2007) The Origin of Species [online], Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg. Available at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/22764/22764-h/22764-h.htm [Accessed 23 November 2016].
Reference List: Ebooks on Readers
The format differs for an ebook accessed through an e-reader. In particular, you do not need to give access information such as a URL or database:
Author, Initial(s). (Year) Title of Book [Format], Place of publication: Publisher.
In practice, then, your reference would look like this:
Darwin, C. (2012) The Origin of Species [Kindle], New York: Collins Classics.
Note that we include the format still, but we don’t provide a URL.
A Final Note
“Harvard referencing” is actually just another term for “author-date” citations. The exact format to use may thus depend on your school. This makes it vital to check your institution’s style guide, as they may use a version of Harvard referencing that differs slightly from this one.