We wouldn’t be surprised to find out that modern students have much healthier spines than those who went to university even a few years ago. After all, thanks to e-books, students now don’t have to lug around several heavy books wherever they go.
Instead, you can fit an entire library on an e-reader, which is convenient. But you still need to cite this kind of text correctly. Here, we’ll look at citing e-books with Harvard referencing.
The good news is that in-text citations for e-books are largely the same as for print books. All you need to do is give the author’s surname and year of publication in parentheses:
Extinction plays an important role in evolution (Darwin, 2012).
Notice, though, that it’s the year that the e-book version was released that you cite, even if an earlier print edition is available (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. Likewise, if quoting a source, you should 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 no page numbers are available in the e-book you’re quoting, a section and/or paragraph number should be given instead:
Extinction has played a role in ‘widening the intervals between the several groups in each class’ (Darwin, 2007, para. 432).
With Harvard referencing, the exact details to include in the reference list for e-books depends to some extent on where you found it. Generally, though, the format is:
Author, Initial(s)., Year. Title of Book. [e-book] Place of publication: Publisher. Available at: e-book source and/or URL [Accessed date].
For e-books from a university library database, this would look something like the following:
Darwin, C. 2012. The Origin of Species. [e-book] New York: Collins Classics. Available at: Anglia Ruskin University Library <http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk> [Accessed 14 June 2016].
However, if the e-book has been accessed through (or formatted for) a specific e-reader, this should be reflected in the reference list:
Darwin, C. 2012. The Origin of Species. [Kindle] New York: Collins Classics. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Origin-Species-Collins-Classics-ebook/dp/B007UK7OYS/ [Accessed 14 June 2016].
For e-books freely accessible online, such as through Project Gutenberg, the format to use is:
Darwin, C. 2007. The Origin of Species. [e-book] Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg. Available at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/22764/22764-h/22764-h.htm [Accessed 23 November 2016].
A Final Note
Since ‘Harvard referencing’ is actually just another term for ‘author-date’ citations, the exact format to use may depend on your university. As such, it’s vital to check your institution’s style guide, as they may use a version of Harvard referencing that differs slightly from this one.