Finding information

Referencing hacks

These top tips will have you dancing like snow in a snow globe

As the end of trimester one gets nearer, your assignment deadlines may seem to be fast approaching. A few key hacks however can help you take control of your deadlines, rather than it feel like they control you. Among the most effective to build is your ‘referencing know-how’ – this can be a real time saver overall. In this blog post we will share the best three referencing hacks that will give you more time for your actual writing, reduce your stress levels and help you achieve greater overall success in your assessments. Referencing know-how falls into two broad themes:

  • Knowing the guiding principles of referencing
  • Incorporating references into your own writing

First, the guiding principles – and these can be divided into three key points:

  • Responsibility for your work always starts and ends with you – check your references using our guide university style guide
  • Be organised in your use of sources and referencing – this will save you time and marks.
  • Use the right style – APA 7th edition is the main referencing style at the University. However, Law students should use the OSCOLA referencing style and History students should use Chicago.

1. Know the guiding principles of referencing

If you use or refer to the work of others in your university assessments you need to provide a citation and reference to that work. Our referencing e-learning will help you produce well-evidenced work; and spot errors before you submit work for marking.

During the planning and writing process, keeping records of the sources you use is very important, and our key hacks will help you do this, so here’s hack number one: use Library Search to organise resource lists and generate references (you MUST check the latter for accuracy). Here’s a short video on how Library Search can do this. Following these steps can help you present your references properly – but you must check your references against our style guide before you submit. Anything auto-generated is likely to be a great time saver, but they are not always 100% accurate.

In addition, many resource databases that the Library provides also have referencing tools within them. Here is a video on just one of these – ProQuest. Look out for such options in other databases you might use.

2. Incorporate references into your own writing

So how do I know if my references look right? Try using our example lists for hack number two, which is all about how to make sure all your references look right:

Go to our easy-to-follow example lists. These show how to cite and reference more than 40 commonly used information sources. Here are our format examples:


  • Temporarily copy and paste the right format example into your reference list
  • Then copy and paste in your actual reference next to it to compare and contrast
  • Edit the information in your actual reference to match the example, then delete the example before you submit.

3. Use referencing apps

Referencing Apps can also help you, depending on how you choose to work and organise your learning. Some of these are free, some may incur costs. It is vital to check anything these apps produce against the university style guide. Glitches often creep in but overall, tools such as these can be time savers if used well – and this is time you can then use on other aspects of your writing.


In addition to these three quick hacks, longer pieces of writing (such as dissertations) can benefit from using tools such as EndNote to manage the process of referencing. This is a software download that is free to University of Salford students. It is more complex than the online apps you may come across (and we provide training on this). Getting some awareness of it early in your degree however, may help you later in your studies. See here for more information and advice on this.

Good overall academic practice

It is important to understand ‘why’ referencing matters in your work, and this can be summed up in one word: reliability. Your markers want to see you as an independent learner who can show fair use of high-quality academic sources. Good referencing will guide your markers through the sources you have used in your assignment.  You may hear this referred to as Academic Integrity. Our e-learning on this will help you understand the role that references have in your assignments, and to understand your personal responsibilities when using academic sources. Unfair use of sources, poor referencing or deliberate source misuse will affect the quality of your work, your overall mark, and may be seen as misconduct.

There is also lots of guidance on writing more effectively for university assignments available from our Skills pages. These are purpose built with University of Salford assessments in mind, and can help you succeed in your work.

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