This may be entirely boring, but is absolutely necessary! All schools and examination boards have policies about academic honesty. You risk your grades and even your certificate / diploma if you submit any task that they think has been plagiarised. Remember that teachers / examiners (especially for History) are professionals and have been marking secondary school papers for a number of years. We know not only how to spot when the ‘voice’ of a paper changes but also how to find where it is from. Do not risk it! Acknowledge all ideas that come from external sources, except for what could be deemed common factual knowledge (eg WWII started in 1939. You should reference if a text suggests that WWII started in 1931).

Your first point of reference for academic writing or referencing rules should be your teacher and school diary. For my students, please read and follow the rules below on ‘Academic Writing‘.


Harvard Referencing: A simple two page guide to Harvard in-text referencing. Use in conjunction with

Writing a Bibliography: A four page pamphlet that covers most scenarios for including in your Reference List. Please note that Bibliographies should start on a new page and be in alphabetical order of authors’ surnames.

If you are totally stuck, try Monash University’s Harvard Style Guide.

Other universities’ style guides are also fairly easy to find, and will offer more advice than what can be fit onto only a couple of pages.



Submit all formal work in 12 point font (Times New Roman/Calibri/Arial), double spaced. Put your question in the Header and your name in the Footer (it is a good idea to have these in a clearly different font and/or size)


Any number less than one hundred should be written out (‘ninety nine’) but over one hundred may be written in digits (23,438) except for one thousand, five million etc.

Foreign language words: italicise


Do not use abbreviations. Its is possessive (the dog’s leg: its leg); it’s is an abbreviation. Apart from its, every other possessive needs an apostrophe.

Draft’ still means pay attention to grammar, punctuation etc. Your teacher (me!!) isn’t here to fix stuff you should have learnt in Grade 3. If they (I!!) are concentrating on your grammar, they are paying less attention to your argument…


ALL IDEAS from elsewhere, as well as QUOTES should be referenced with the Author’s surname (or organisation name) followed by the date of publication. (Author, Date) is still within the same sentence, so the full stop goes after the bracket (Toohey, 1926).

Long quotes (longer than 3 lines) should be indented by about one centimetre from each margin. They do not have inverted commas. You do reference them at the end of the quote – in this case after the full stop. You should really try to avoid quotes of this length except in long (2500 or longer) essays, or if you’re quoting me (Shakespeare, 1595, p. 234).

Online sources:

Do not use links in your in-text reference, use the author.

Does it really have no author, or have you not really looked for it? Is there an organisation name somewhere? Does the URL suggest the organisation or person’s name (e.g. brendantoohey.wordpress.com)? Do not put the website as the author, instead the name of the particular page you used comes first (use the referencing guide!)


If you know that a source has misspelt a word, or put in an incorrect date etc., but you still want to quote that section, insert [sic] immediately after the error to show the error is from the source, not you.

‘The main principal [sic] of success at school is to give chocolate to your teacher.’

Taking notes from long articles

What is your purpose for reading this? It is probably an essay title – but also: is this for background, it is on the ‘required reading’ list, you are looking for a different viewpoint, or you are looking for just a couple of supporting points / examples / quotes to back up what you already have?

  • write it at the top of your page
  • now write the FULL bibliographic details for this source
  • Note the heading.
  • Note sub-headings.
  • Read Intro.
  • Read Conclusion.

(Any ideas on your topic yet? Can you work out a basic premise of the whole article? Is it worth still reading?)

  • Skim each section.
  • Read the first paragraph or so.
  • Skim the rest of the section, but paying special attention to topic sentences.
  • In the headings or the topic sentences does it suggest any quotable phrases?

(Can you get enough for what you need from this? Try to write a sentence or two which summarises each section)

  • Does it give a list?
  • What examples does it suggest?
  • Does it quote others? (Are they worth YOU quoting?)

You have probably got the gist of the article and enough to use in your essay without having actually read every word.


  • is it interesting enough that you want to read every word? Go ahead!
  • is it important enough that you need to read every word? Get on with it!