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Harvard Formatting and Style Guide

Cover Page

Harvard formatting requires a very specific title page. About halfway down the page is the title of the paper, in all capital letters. Following this (about three lines down) is the name of the author. This is not in capital letters. Move four lines down and then put the name of the class, and, on the line after that, the name of the professor. Next line is the name of the school, then the city and state where it is located, and, finally the date.


The header contains a short description of the title and a sequential the page number. Using the example title “The American Presidency”…a partial title and page number in Harvard format could look like: Presidency 1 There are several key components to note. First, the title is right justified instead of the normal left or center. There is only a partial title expressing the main idea in the essay. Between the partial title and the number are exactly five spaces. Always use the space bar and use just five spaces. To access the header in MS WORD, go to the top of any page in the document and double click. A blue dotted line will appear with a small box on the lower left-hand corner that reads “Header” and above this will be your cursor. A box will drop down simultaneously. Click the “Page Number” box and follow these directions. Click on the first option- “Top of the Page.” Then click the one that reads “Plain Number 3.” A number corresponding to the page you are on will appear on the right-hand side of the header. The cursor is now on the left side of the number. Type your partial title and then press the space bar exactly five times. Now double click anywhere in the body of the main document and the page number header is set.

The Harvard Essay Template


The Name of the Class (Course)

Professor (Tutor)

The Name of the School (University)

The City and State where it is located

The Date

The Harvard Essay Template 2

 The Essay Title is Centered and Capitalized

The first paragraph of the essay introduces the reader to your topic with a “hook,” which might be an interesting fact, a statistic, a lively quotation, or an anecdote that sheds light on your essay. The introduction then leads to the thesis statement, which is sometimes underlined, depending on your professor’s preference. The thesis statement is the main idea of the essay, telling the reader in one sentence what the body of your essay will demonstrate or prove, and the rest of the essay supports the thesis with facts, evidence, and reasoning. If You Have a Long Essay, Use Centered Headings to Break Up the Body of the Essay Use Italicized Headings for Subsections The first sentence of the first body paragraph should be the topic sentence, which tells the reader what the paragraph will discuss – this sentence should relate to the thesis and provide support for the claim made in the thesis statement. After the topic sentence, supporting details are used to back up the topic sentence and provide more information about it. Each detail should relate back to the topic sentence. Details can include analysis, explanation, quotations about the subject, and/or facts and figures that support the topic sentence. The paragraph should conclude with a sentence that sums up the paragraph and leads into the next body paragraph. New Subheadings May Be Used to Introduce New Subtopics Transition words, such as “similarly,” “however,” “therefore,” etc. can be helpful in linking paragraphs. You should show how your next paragraph connects to the one that came before. The paragraph should have its own topic sentence and follow the same format as the first The Harvard Essay Template 3 body paragraph, with supporting details and a closing sentence. Each body paragraph should repeat the topic sentence, supporting details, and closing sentence format. Use a New Heading When You Change Major Topics Within your paragraphs, you should be sure to cite your sources using in-text citations. In Harvard style, these citations use the author’s name and first initial, the year of publication, and the page number on which the information appears. You should provide a citation for each fact, summary, paraphrase, or quotation you use from an outside source. If you don’t do this, it is plagiarism, a serious academic offense. An in-text citation to a quote from page 12 of a book by Christopher Clark would look like this (Clark, C. 2006, 12). Then, you list your source at the end of the paper in the reference list. Such citations make it easy for readers to see where you gathered your information to check it for themselves. Additionally, Harvard style typically asks students to use a standard font (such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New for Windows, or Times, Helvetica, or Courier for Mac) at size 12. You should not use fancy fonts, colors in the text, or excessive amounts of boldface, underlining, or italics. The whole paper should be double-spaced with smooth left margins and jagged right margins. In Harvard style, the titles of books, movies, long plays, TV shows, journals, newspapers, magazines, and websites are Italicized. Short stories, poems, episodes of TV shows, and short plays are placed in “Quotation Marks.” (This is for in-text mentions; the rules are different for the reference list.) Following these conventions makes it easy for readers to recognize what you are referring to quickly and accurately. The Harvard Essay Template 4 The Conclusion Finishes the Essay The first sentence of the conclusion should restate the thesis statement, reminding the reader in different words what the essay has shown or proved. You should then offer a brief discussion of your topic, reminding the reader what the most important parts of the essay were. You should finish your essay with the “take home” message, the single most important point you want the reader to remember after the reader has put down your paper. This could take the form of a quotation, a fact, a statistic, or a well-developed, original thought. Following the conclusion is the reference list, which lists on a separate page all the sources used in the in-text citations, and only the sources used in-text. The Harvard Essay Template 5 References (This template will provide samples for Harvard style references for a book, a journal article, and a website. An actual References list is alphabetized by author’s last name and is double spaced with a hanging indent, which means that the first line of each entry is flush against the left margin while the second and subsequent lines are indented one-half inch. Note: There are several variations of Harvard style used in different countries; the following is the most common format but is not the only one in use. If in doubt, consult your school’s Harvard style guide.) General Format: Book Author’s Last Name, First Initial, Year of Publication. Title of book capitalized like a sentence. City of Publication: Publisher. Article Author’s Last Name, First Initial & Second Author’s Last Name, First Initial, Year of Publication. Article title capitalized like a sentence without quotation marks. Journal Title, Volume Number(Issue Number): pp.Pages. Internet Author’s Last Name, First Initial, Year of Publication. Web page title capitalized like a sentence and italicized. [Online] (updated Date of Update) Available at:

[Accessed Date of Access]. Examples: Clark, C., 2006. Iron kingdom: the rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947, Cambridge: Belknap Press. The Harvard Essay Template 6 Keller, M. & Horne, S., 1976. Take back the knight: reinterpreting medieval poetry from a feminist perspective. Journal of Medieval Literature, 12(5), pp.66-89. Nevins, S., 2010. Most men don’t cry—why? [Online] (updated 4 Feb. 2010) Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2010]. Note: If there is no author listed, begin with the corporate author or publisher, like this: The Economist, 2010. Facing up to China. [Online] (updated 4 Feb. 2010) Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2010].

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