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Reference & Citation: History of Harvard Style

Help with Reference & Citation, Harvard Style.

Edward Laurens Mark

Edward Laurens Mark

Edward Laurens Mark (1847-1946)

Edward Laurens Mark was an American zoologist, Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Director of the Zoological Laboratory of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) at Harvard University. In his landmark cytological monograph published in 1881, Mark also conceived the parenthetical referencing for citation, also known as Harvard referencing.

A Brief History of the Harvard Style

A Brief History of the Harvard Style

The author-date system is attributed to eminent zoologist Edward Laurens Mark (1847-1946), Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Director of Harvard’s zoological laboratory. It is widely agreed that the first evidence of the citation style can be traced back to Mark’s landmark cytological paper (Chernin, 1988). The paper breaks away from previous uses of inconsistent and makeshift footnotes through its use of a parenthetical author-date citation accompanied by an explanatory footnote.

[…] The appearance may be due solely to reflection from the body itself. (Comp. Flemming, ‘78b, p. 310.*)

*The numbers immediately following an author’s name serve the double purpose of referring the reader to the list (p. 591) where the titles of papers are given, and of informing him at once of the approximate date of the paper in question.

  • Parenthetic author-year citation, page 194 of Mark’s 1881 paper:
  • Mark’s rationale for his citational scheme:

A tribute dedicated to Mark in 1903 by 140 students credits Mark’s paper with having ‘introduced into zoology a proper fullness and accuracy of citation and a convenient and uniform method of referring from text to bibliography’ (Parker, 1903). Today Harvard referencing is widely considered one of the most accessible styles and is used across most subjects.


Reference List

Chernin, E. (1988) The ‘Harvard System’: A mystery dispelled. Available at: (Accessed: 4 July 2016)

Parker, G. (ed.) (1903) Mark anniversary volume. New York: Henry Holt.

Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2016) Cite them right. London: Palgrave Macmillan.