Harvard University Essay Examples (And Why They Worked)
The following essay examples were written by several different authors who were admitted to Harvard University and are intended to provide examples of successful Harvard University application essays. All names have been redacted for anonymity. Please note that Bullseye Admissions has shared these essays with admissions officers at Harvard University in order to deter potential plagiarism.
For more help with your Harvard supplemental essays, check out our 2020-2021 Harvard University Essay Guide ! For more guidance on personal essays and the college application process in general, sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words)
Feet moving, eyes up, every shot back, chants the silent mantra in my head. The ball becomes a beacon of neon green as I dart forward and backward, shuffling from corner to far corner of the court, determined not to let a single point escape me. With bated breath, I swing my racquet upwards and outwards and it catches the ball just in time to propel it, spinning, over the net. My heart soars as my grinning teammates cheer from the sidelines.
While I greatly value the endurance, tenacity, and persistence that I have developed while playing tennis throughout the last four years, I will always most cherish the bonds that I have created and maintained each year with my team.
Why this Harvard essay worked: From an ex-admissions officer
When responding to short essays or supplements, it can be difficult to know which info to include or omit. In this essay, the writer wastes no time and immediately captivates the reader. Not only are the descriptions vivid and compelling, but the second portion highlights what the writer gained from this activity. As an admissions officer, I learned about the student’s level of commitment, leadership abilities, resiliency, ability to cooperate with others, and writing abilities in 150 words.
I founded Teen Court at [High School Name Redacted] with my older brother in 2016. Teen Court is a unique collaboration with the Los Angeles Superior Court and Probation Department, trying real first-time juvenile offenders from all over Los Angeles in a courtroom setting with teen jurors. Teen Court’s foundational principle is restorative justice: we seek to rehabilitate at-risk minors rather than simply punish them. My work provides my peers the opportunity to learn about the justice system. I put in over fifty hours just as Secretary logging court attendance, and now as President, I mentor Teen Court attendees. My goal is to improve their empathy and courage in public speaking, and to expand their world view. People routinely tell me their experience with Teen Court has inspired them to explore law, and I know the effort I devoted bringing this club to [High School Name Redacted] was well worth it.
This writer discussed a passion project with a long-lasting impact. As admissions officers, we realize that post-secondary education will likely change the trajectory of your life. We hope that your education will also inspire you to change the trajectory of someone else’s life as well. This writer developed an organization that will have far-reaching impacts for both the juvenile offenders and the attendees. They saw the need for this service and initiated a program to improve their community.
Harvard University Supplemental Essay Option: Books Read During the Last Twelve Months
Reading Frankenstein in ninth grade changed my relationship to classic literature. In Frankenstein , I found characters and issues that resonate in a modern context, and I began to explore the literary canon outside of the classroom. During tenth grade, I picked up Jane Eyre and fell in love with the novel’s non-traditional heroine whose agency and cleverness far surpassed anything that I would have imagined coming from the 19th century. I have read the books listed below in the past year.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus *
- Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger *
- Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
- Aphra Behn, The Fair Jilt ♰
- Mongo Beti, Mission Terminée * (in French)
- Kate Chopin, The Awakening
- Arthur Conan-Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
- Kamel Daoud, Meursault, contre-enquête * (in French)
- Roddy Doyle, A Star Called Henry *
- Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane *
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
- William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying *
- Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
- E. M. Forster, Maurice
- E. M. Forster, A Passage to India
- E. M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread
- Eliza Haywood, The City Jilt ♰
- Homer, The Iliad
- Christopher Isherwood, All The Conspirators
- Christopher Isherwood, A Meeting by the River
- Christopher Isherwood, Sally Bowles
- Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man
- Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
- James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
- Franz Kafka, The Trial
- Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies *
- Morrissey, Autobiography
- Rudolph Otto, The Idea of the Holy *
- Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
- Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, Herland
- Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
- Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove
- Mary Renault, Fire From Heaven
- Mary Renault, The Friendly Young Ladies
- Mary Renault, The King Must Die
- Mary Renault, The Persian Boy
- J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Terre des hommes * (in French)
- Shakespeare, Hamlet *
- Mary Shelley, The Last Man
- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead *
- Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
- Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan
- Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
- Evelyn Waugh, Scoop
- Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies
- Jeanette Winterson, The Passion
- Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Fiction ♰
- Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman ♰
- Virginia Woolf, A Haunted House and Other Stories
- * indicates assigned reading
- ♰ indicates independent study reading
Harvard University Supplemental Essay Option: What would you want your future college roommate to know about you? (No word limit)
You probably have noticed that I put four exclamation points. Yes, I am that excited to meet you, roomie!
Also, I don’t believe in the Rule of Three. It’s completely unfair that three is always the most commonly used number. Am I biased in my feelings because four is my favorite number? Perhaps. However, you have to admit that our reason for the Rule of Three is kinda arbitrary. The Rule of Three states that a trio of events is more effective and satisfying than any other numbers. Still, the human psyche is easily manipulated through socially constructed perceptions such as beauty standards and gender roles. Is having three of everything actually influential or is it only influential because society says so? Hmm, it’s interesting to think about it, isn’t it?
But if you’re an avid follower of the Rule of three, don’t worry, I won’t judge. In fact, if there’s one thing I can promise you I will never do, it’s being judgmental. Life is too short to go around judging people. Besides, judgments are always based on socially constructed beliefs. With so many backgrounds present on campus, it really would be unfair if we start going around judging people based on our own limited beliefs. My personal philosophy is “Mind your own business and let people be,” So, if you have a quirk that you’re worrying is too “weird” and are afraid your roommate might be too judgy, rest assured, I won’t be.
In fact, thanks to my non-judginess, I am an excellent listener. If you ever need to rant with someone about stressful classes, harsh gradings, or the new ridiculous plot twists of your favorite TV show (*cough* Riverdale), I am always available.
Now, I know what you are thinking. A non-judgmental and open-minded roommate? This sounds too good to be true. This girl’s probably a secret villain waiting to hear all my deepest and darkest secrets and blackmail me with them!
Well, I promise you. I am not a secret villain. I am just someone who knows how important it is to be listened to and understood.
I grew up under the communist regime of Vietnam, where freedom of speech and thought was heavily suppressed. Since childhood, I was taught to keep my opinion to myself, especially if it is contradictory to the government’s. No matter how strongly I felt about an issue, I could never voice my true opinion nor do anything about it. Or else, my family and I would face oppression from the Vietnamese government.
After immigrating to America, I have made it my mission to fight for human rights and justice. Back in Vietnam, I have let fear keep me from doing the right thing. Now, in the land of freedom, I won’t use that excuse anymore. I can finally be myself and fight for what I believe in. However, I can still remember how suffocating it was to keep my beliefs bottled up and to be silenced. Trust me, a conversation may not seem much, but it can do wonders. So, if you ever need a listener, know that I am right here.
See, I just shared with you a deep secret of mine. What secret villain would do that?
See ya soon!!!!!
[Name redacted] : )
P/S: I really love writing postscripts. So, I hope you won’t find it weird when I always end my emails, letters, and even texts with a P/S. Bye for real this time!!!!!
Harvard University Supplemental Essay Option: Unusual circumstances in your life
I would like the Harvard Admissions Committee to know that my life circumstances are far from typical. I was born at twenty-four weeks gestation, which eighteen years ago was on the cusp of viability. Even if I was born today, under those same circumstances, my prospects for leading a normal life would be grim. Eighteen years ago, those odds were worse, and I was given a less than 5% chance of survival without suffering major cognitive and physical deficits.
The first six months of my life were spent in a large neonatal ICU in Canada. I spent most of that time in an incubator, kept breathing by a ventilator. When I was finally discharged home, it was with a feeding tube and oxygen, and it would be several more months before I was able to survive without the extra tubes connected to me. At the age of two, I was still unable to walk. I engaged in every conventional and non-conventional therapy available to me, including physical and speech therapy, massage therapy, gymnastics, and several nutritional plans, to try to remedy this. Slowly, I began to make progress in what would be a long and arduous journey towards recovery.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of repeated, often unsuccessful attempts to grip a large-diameter crayon since I was unable to hold a regular pencil. I would attempt to scrawl out letters on a page to form words, fueled by either determination or outright stubbornness, persevering until I improved. I spent countless hours trying to control my gait, eventually learning to walk normally and proving the doctors wrong about their diagnoses. I also had to learn how to swallow without aspirating because the frequent intubations I had experienced as an infant left me with a uncoordinated swallow reflex. Perhaps most prominently, I remember becoming very winded as I tried to keep up with my elementary school peers on the playground and the frustration I experienced when I failed.
Little by little, my body’s tolerance for physical exertion grew, and my coordination improved. I enrolled in martial arts to learn how to keep my balance and to develop muscle coordination and an awareness of where my limbs were at any given time. I also became immersed in competition among my elementary school peers to determine which one of us could become the most accomplished on the recorder. For each piece of music played correctly, a “belt” was awarded in the form of a brightly colored piece of yarn tied around the bottom of our recorders- meant as symbols of our achievement. Despite the challenges I had in generating and controlling enough air, I practiced relentlessly, often going in before school or during my lunch hour to obtain the next increasingly difficult musical piece. By the time the competition concluded, I had broken the school record of how far an elementary school child could advance; in doing so, my love of instrumental music and my appreciation for the value of hard work and determination was born.
Throughout my middle and high school years, I have succeeded at the very highest level both academically and musically. I was even able to find a sport that I excelled at and would later be able to use as an avenue for helping others, volunteering as an assistant coach once I entered high school. I have mentored dozens of my high school peers in developing trumpet skills, teaching them how to control one’s breathing during musical phrases and how to develop effective fingering techniques in order to perform challenging passages. I believe that my positive attitude and hard work has allowed for not only my own success, but for the growth and success of my peers as well.
My scholastic and musical achievements, as well as my leadership abilities and potential to succeed at the highest level will hopefully be readily apparent to the committee when you review my application. Perhaps more importantly, however, is the behind-the-scenes character traits that have made these possible. I believe that I can conquer any challenge put in front of me. My past achievements provide testimony to my work ethic, aptitudes and grit, and are predictive of my future potential.
Thank you for your consideration.
In this essay, the writer highlighted their resilience. At some point, we will all endure challenges and struggles, but it is how we redeem ourselves that matters. This writer highlighted their initial struggles, their dedication and commitment, and the ways in which they’ve used those challenges as inspiration and motivation to persevere and also to encourage others to do the same.
Harvard University Supplemental Essay Option: An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you.
I want to be a part of something amazing, and I believe I can. The first line of the chorus springs into my mind instantaneously as my fingers experiment with chords on the piano. In this moment, as I compose the protagonist’s solo number, I speak from my heart. I envision the stage and set, the actors, the orchestra, even the audience. Growing increasingly excited, I promptly begin to create recordings so I can release the music from the confines of my imagination and share it with any willing ears.
My brother [name redacted] and I are in the process of writing a full-length, two-act musical comprised of original scenes, songs, characters. I began creating the show not only because I love to write music and entertain my friends and family, but also with the hope that I might change the way my peers view society. Through Joan, the protagonist of my musical, I want to communicate how I feel about the world.
The story centers around Joan, a high schooler, and her connection to the pilot Amelia Earhart. Ever since I saw a theatrical rendition of Amelia Earhart’s life in fifth grade, she has fascinated me as an extraordinary feminist and a challenger of society’s beliefs and standards. As I began researching and writing for the show, I perused through biographies and clicked through countless youtube documentaries about the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, astounded by her bravery and ability to overcome a troubled childhood and achieve her dream. In my musical, as Amelia transcends 20th century norms, changing the way that people regard women and flight, Joan strives to convince her peers and superiors that the worth of one’s life spans not from material success and grades, but from self-love and passion.
As I compose, the essence of each character and the mood of each scene steer the flow of each song. To me, it seems as though everything falls into place at once – as I pluck a melody out of the air, the lyrics come to me naturally as if the two have been paired all along. As I listen to the newly born principal line, I hear the tremolo of strings underscoring and the blaring of a brass section that may someday audibly punctuate each musical phrase.
The project is certainly one of the most daunting tasks I’ve ever undertaken – we’ve been working on it for almost a year, and hope to be done by January – but, fueled by my passion for creating music and writing, it is also one of the most enjoyable. I dream that it may be performed one day and that it may influence society to appreciate the success that enthusiasm for one’s relationships and work can bring.
These essay examples were compiled by the advising team at Bullseye Admissions. If you want to get help writing your Harvard University application essays from Bullseye Admissions advisors , register with Bullseye today .
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Example essay extract with citations and references list: Home
Example essay extract with citations and references list.
Below is an example essay, complete with citations and references.
Please remember this is a fictional essay purely designed to demonstrate how and when to reference.
Embedding experiences and voices in research can “challenge [the] studied ignorance” around race (Arday and Mirza, 2018, p.v) and the academy’s role as gatekeeper of what is considered “relevant knowledge” (Lillis, 2003). Academic conventions around skills such as writing can be excluding, forming “constructions of difference […] that deepen misrecognitions and inequalities” (Burke, 2018, p.366). Lillis (2003) and Arday et al. (2021) both use narrative to listen to the ways in which black students’ experiences are ignored and the marginalising effect of a refusal to validate multiple ways of knowing.
Arday, J., Belluigi, D. Z. and Thomas, D. (2021) Attempting to break the chain: reimaging inclusive pedagogy and decolonising the curriculum within the academy. Educational Philosophy and Theory . 53 (3), pp.298-313.
Arday, J. and Mirza, H. S. (eds.) (2018) Dismantling race in higher education: racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy . London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Burke, P. J. (2018) Trans/forming pedagogical spaces: race, belonging and recognition in higher education. In: Arday, J. and Mirza, H. S. (eds.) Dismantling race in higher education: racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy . London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.365-382.
Lillis, T. (2003) Student writing as ‘academic literacies’: drawing on Bakhtin to move from critique to design. Language and Education. 17 (5), pp.192-207.
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Two or more works cited at one point in the text
If two or more works by different authors or authoring bodies are cited at one point in the text, use a semi-colon to separate them:
(Larsen 2000; Malinowski 1999)
The authors should be listed in alphabetical order.
Two or three authors or authoring bodies
When citing a work by two or three authors or authoring bodies, cite the names in the order in which they appear on the title page:
(Malinowski, Miller & Gupta 1995)
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Harvard referencing quick guide: Sample assignment
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Citing and reference list example
The text to the right shows how citations and the reference list are typically written in the Harvard referencing style.
Note: the text itself is not designed to be a proper example of academic writing and does not use information from the sources cited; it is for illustrative purposes only.
The purpose of this assignment is to show common elements of the Harvard style of referencing in Dundalk Institute of Technology. It is not intended to be an example of good quality academic writing, and indeed may not make sense in general, but it should show you how citations and a reference list are formed in the Harvard style of referencing (Cameron 2021). If you include a “direct quotation from a book you have read” (Giddens and Sutton 2021, p.117) you should include the relevant page number.
You don’t always have to write the author and year in brackets. Cameron (2021) explains that if the author’s name occurs naturally in the text then the year follows it in brackets. If there are two authors you should include both of them in the citation (Levine and Munsch 2021). If there are three or more authors you don’t have to list all of the names in the citation but you should include them all in the reference list (Robbins et al. 2020). The reference list should appear at the end of your assignment and be in alphabetical order based on the first author’s surname (Bruen 2022) rather than the order in which they appear in your assignment ( Papagiannis 2022). If you are using a citation for a second time you do not need to include it twice in the reference list (Cameron 2021).
Referencing an academic journal that you find online requires more information in the reference list but uses the same format for citing as other sources (Tesseur 2022). If referencing a source from a library database you say from which database you found it (Mayombe 2021).
Don’t forget that websites need to be cited too (Dundalk Institute of Technology 2022). We recommend you look at the full version of DkIT’s Harvard referencing guidelines, and contact the Library if you have any questions. Good luck.
Bruen, M. (2020). River flows. In: Kelly-Quinn, M. and Reynolds, J., eds. Ireland’s rivers . Dublin: University College Dublin Press, pp.39-59.
Cameron, S. (2021). The business student's handbook: skills for study and employment . 7th ed. Harlow: Pearson.
Dundalk Institute of Technology. (2022). Research support [online]. Available from: https://www.dkit.ie/research/research-support.html [accessed 25 March 2022].
Giddens, A. and Sutton, P.W. (2021). Sociology . 9th ed. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Levine, L.E. and Munsch, J. (2021). Child development: an active learning approach [online]. 4th ed. London: SAGE Publications. Available from: https://books.google.ie/books?id=zlrZzQEACAAJ&dq [accessed 25 March 2022].
Mayombe, C. (2021). Partnership with stakeholders as innovative model of work-integrated learning for unemployed youths. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning [online], 12(2), pp.309-327. Available from: Emerald Insight [accessed 25 March 2022].
Papagiannis, N. (2020). Effective SEO and content marketing: the ultimate guide for maximizing free web traffic [online]. Indianapolis: Wiley. Available from: EBSCOhost eBook Collection [accessed 25 March 2022].
Robbins, S.P., Coulter, M.A. and De Cenzo, D.A. (2020). Fundamentals of management . 11th ed. Harlow: Pearson.
Tesseur, W. (2022). Translation as inclusion? An analysis of international NGOs’ translation policy documents. Language Problems and Language Planning [online], 45(3), pp. 261-283. Available from: https://doras.dcu.ie/26151 [accessed 25 March 2022].
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The recommendations in this section are based on the standards set forth by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed., APA, 2020), which is available through Hollis . While you can check out the print edition, they offer only limited online access. The APA also maintains a Web site ( http://www.apastyle.org/ ) that provides a basic citation tutorial, answers to frequently asked questions, and a blog.
No one expects you to memorize the format for every type of source you will cite in APA style. Instead, you should know where to look for models of each type of source. This section explains the basics of APA-style citations and provides citation examples for some commonly used sources. For more information, you should consult the links below.
- Here is the APA overview of how to format in-text citations .
- APA also offers a checklist for in-text citations .
- For sample APA citations, visit this section of the APA style website .
- For sample papers written in APA style, visit this section of the APA style website .
- APA also offers a series of webinars that explain their citation and reference list guidelines .
If you are looking for information on how to generate citations using Zotero or other citation software, you can find links to library resources here .
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College Info , College Essays
Aiming for the world-renowned Harvard University? As part of the application to this prestigious Ivy League school , you'll have the option to submit a supplemental essay. But what should you write about for your Harvard essay? What are the different Harvard essay prompts to choose from, and how should you answer one so you can give yourself your best shot at getting in?
In this guide, we give you advice for each Harvard essay prompt as well as tips on whether you should choose a particular prompt. But before we look at the prompts, let's go over what Harvard actually requires in terms of essays.
Feature Image: Gregor Smith /Flickr
What Essays Do You Need to Submit to Harvard?
Those applying for admission to Harvard must submit an application through either the Common Application , the Coalition Application , or the Universal College Application (UCA) . For your Harvard application, you'll need to write a personal essay in response to one of the prompts provided by the Common App, Coalition App, or UCA (depending on the system you're applying through).
This essay is required for all applicants and should typically be about 500-550 words long (and must be less than 650 words). To learn more about this essay, check out the current prompts for the Common App , Coalition App , and UCA on their official websites.
In addition to this required essay, you have the option of submitting another essay as part of the Harvard supplement. The Harvard supplement essay, as it's known, is completely optional—you may, but do not need to, write this essay and submit it with your application.
Also, this essay also has no word limit, though if you do write it, it's best to stick to a typical college essay length (i.e., somewhere around 500 words).
Harvard advises applicants to submit this supplemental essay "if [they] feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about [themselves] or [their] accomplishments."
Options for essay topics are very open ended, and you have a total of 10 topics from which you can choose (11 if you include the fact that you may also "write on a topic of your choice").
Here are the 2022-2023 Harvard supplement essay prompts :
You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
Unusual circumstances in your life
Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities
What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
- An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
How you hope to use your college education
A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
The Harvard College Honor code declares that we "hold honesty as the foundation of our community." As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?
Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.
As you can see, some of these topics are more specific and focused, while others are more broad and open ended. When it comes down to it, though, should you write the Harvard supplement essay, or should you skip it altogether?
Should You Do the Harvard Supplement Essay?
You're already required to submit a personal essay for your Harvard application—so do you really need to submit an extra essay? In reality, opinions are mixed on whether you should write the Harvard supplement essay or not.
While some people are under the impression that this essay is basically mandatory and that your chances of getting into Harvard without it are slim. Others believe that submitting it (especially if you don't have anything particularly impressive or interesting to write about) is simply a waste of time.
So which is it? In general, if you have the opportunity to submit something that you think will only strengthen your college application, definitely do it. By doing this essay, you'll add more flavor to your application and showcase a different side of your personality.
Indeed, in his review of his successful Harvard application , PrepScholar co-founder and Harvard alum Allen Cheng strongly recommends writing this extra essay. He also notes that it's likely that most Harvard applicants do , in fact, submit the supplemental essay (as he himself did).
But it's worth stating again: this essay is not required for admission to Harvard. Whether you submit a Harvard supplement essay is entirely up to you—though I highly recommend doing it!
If you're really struggling to decide whether to do the extra Harvard essay or not, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you consider yourself a strong writer? Are there people you trust who could edit and proofread your essay for you?
- Are you worried about other parts of your Harvard application that could negatively affect your chance of admission , such as below-average SAT/ACT scores, a low GPA, etc.?
- Do you feel that you didn't get to write about something you really wanted to for the required essay?
- Is there something you believe the admissions committee should know about you that you haven't gotten a chance to write about yet?
- Do you have enough time to dedicate to writing and polishing another essay?
- Do you think your overall Harvard application is too one-sided or too focused on one aspect of your personality and/or interests? Could your application benefit from more diversity and balance?
Hopefully, by answering these questions, you'll start to have a clearer idea as to whether you will write the Harvard supplement essay or not.
How to Write the Harvard Essay: Every Prompt Analyzed
In this section, we go through the 10 possible Harvard supplement essay prompts and offer you tips on how to write an effective, powerful essay, regardless of which prompt you choose.
Prompt 1: Unusual Circumstances
This essay prompt is all about highlighting an unusual situation or event in your life and what kind of impact it ultimately had on you. Harvard asks for this in case applicants want to discuss anything significant that has happened to them and has had a major influence on their academic accomplishments, future goals, perspectives, etc.
This is also an opportunity for applicants to discuss any major struggles they have had (that most students their age haven't had) and the way these experiences have personally affected their lives.
Should You Choose This Prompt?
If you grew up with an uncommon lifestyle or had an uncommon experience that you believe had a strong effect on you, this is a good prompt to choose for your essay. For example, perhaps you grew up speaking four languages fluently, or you were the youngest of fourteen children.
This is also an ideal prompt to choose if you want to provide more background information for a weak point in your application. For instance, say you contracted a serious illness during your sophomore year, and your many absences caused your GPA to drop. You could then write about how you approached this problem head-on, and how working with a tutor every day after school to raise your GPA ultimately revealed to you an inner strength you never knew you had.
Tips for Answering This Prompt
- Choose an experience or situation that is actually uncommon. This doesn't mean that no one else in the world could have it, but try to focus on something that's unique and has had a big impact on your personal growth. As an example, although many teenagers were raised by a single parent, only you grew up with your parent, so concentrate on how this person as well as the overall situation helped to shape your personality and goals.
- If you're writing about something that was challenging for you, don't just conclude that the experience was difficult. What specifically have you learned or taken away from it? Why is it important for the Harvard admissions committee to know this? For instance, say you had to move six times in just two years. You could write that although it was difficult adjusting to a new school each time you moved, you eventually started to enjoy meeting people and getting to explore new places. As a result of these experiences, you now have a lot more confidence when it comes to adapting to unfamiliar situations.
Prompt 2: Travel, Living, or Work Experiences
This prompt is asking you to discuss experiences you've had that involved traveling, living, and/or working in a specific community (either your own or another) and what kind of effect that experience has had on you.
Here are examples of experiences you could talk about for this essay:
- Living or traveling abroad
- Moving to a new place or living in multiple places
- Working a part-time job
- Working a temporary job or internship somewhere outside your own community
If you've had an experience that fits or mostly fits one of the examples above and it's had a big impact on how you see and define yourself as a person, this is a solid prompt for you.
On the other hand, do not choose this prompt if you've never had a significant experience while traveling or working/living somewhere.
- Choose a truly significant experience to talk about. Although your experience doesn't need to be life-changing, it should have had a noteworthy impact on you and who you've become. If, for example, you traveled to Mexico with your family but didn't really enjoy or learn much from the trip, it's better to avoid writing about this experience (and might be better to choose a different prompt altogether!).
- Make sure to talk about how this travel/living/work experience has affected you. For example, say you spent a couple of summers in high school visiting relatives in South Africa. You could write about how these trips helped you develop a stronger sense of independence and self-sufficiency—traits which have made you more assertive, especially when it comes to leading group projects and giving speeches.
- Don't be afraid to get creative with this essay. For instance, if you lived in a country where you at first didn't understand the local language, you could open your Harvard essay with an anecdote, such as a conversation you overheard or a funny miscommunication.
Prompt 3: Your Future College Roommate
Unlike some of the other more traditional Harvard essay prompts on this list, this prompt is a little more casual and really lends itself to a creative approach.
For this prompt, you're writing an essay that's more of a letter to your future college roommate (remember, however, that it's actually being read by the Harvard admissions committee!). You'll introduce who you are by going over the key traits and characteristics that make you you —in other words, personality traits, eccentricities, flaws, or strengths that you believe are critical for someone (i.e., Harvard) to know about you.
This Harvard essay prompt is all about creativity and describing yourself—not a specific event or circumstance—so it's well suited for those who are skilled at clearly and creatively expressing themselves through writing.
- Focus on your unique attributes. Since you're describing yourself in this essay, you'll need to concentrate on introducing the most unique and interesting aspects about yourself (that you also think a roommate would want or need to know). What's your daily routine? Do you have any funny or strange habits or quirks? How did you develop these characteristics?
- Be true to your voice and don't pretend to be someone you're not. Don't say that you're always telling jokes if you're normally a very serious person. Describe yourself honestly, but don't feel as though you must tell every little detail about yourself, either.
- Strike a balance: don't focus only on the positives or negatives. You want to come across as a strong applicant, but you also want to be realistic and authentic (you're human, after all!). Therefore, try to find balance by writing about not only your strengths and positive attributes but also your quirks and flaws. For instance, you could mention how you always used to run late when meeting up with friends, but how you've recently started working on getting better at this by setting an alarm on your iPhone.
Prompt 4: An Intellectual Experience
An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you.
With this prompt, Harvard wants you to focus on an intellectual or learning experience that's had a big impact on you in terms of your personal growth, your academic/intellectual interests and passions, the field of study you want to pursue, etc.
This intellectual experience could be anything that's intellectually stimulating, such as an essay or book you read, a poem you analyzed, or a research project you conducted.
Note that this experience does not need to be limited to something you did for school —if you've done anything in your spare time or for an extracurricular activity that you think fits this prompt, feel free to write about that.
Should You Choose This Topic?
This is a good prompt to choose if a certain intellectual experience motivated you or triggered an interest in something you really want to study at Harvard.
For example, you could write about how you found an old copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species at a garage sale, and how reading this prompted you to develop an interest in biology, which you now intend to major in and eventually make a career out of.
This is also an ideal prompt to pick if you want to highlight a particular interest or passion you have that differs from the academic field you want to study in college.
For instance, perhaps you're applying for admission as a computer science major, but you're also a huge fan of poetry and often take part in local poetry readings. Writing about a poem you recently read and analyzed could illuminate to the admissions committees a different, less prominent side of your personality and intellectual interests, ultimately showing that you're open minded and invested in gaining both new skills and experiences.
- Choose an experience that had a significant impact on you. Don't talk about how reading Romeo and Juliet in eighth grade made you realize how much you enjoyed writing plays if you were already writing plays way before then! If you can't think of any memorable intellectual experience to write about, then it's best to opt for a different prompt.
- Be specific about the intellectual experience you had and clearly relate it back to your strengths and interests. In other words, what kind of impact did this experience have on you? Your academic goals? Your future plans? For example, instead of writing about how a scientific paper on climate change made you think more deeply about the environment, you could talk about how this paper prompted you to form a recycling program at your school, take a class on marine biology, and so forth.
Prompt 5: Your Future Goals
This Harvard essay prompt is pretty self-explanatory: it wants you to discuss how you intend to use your education at Harvard after you graduate —so in a future job or career, in grad school, in a particular research field, etc.
Basically, how will your college education help you achieve your future goals (whatever those may be)?
If you have a pretty clear vision for your future goals during and after college, this is a perfect prompt to choose for your Harvard essay.
If, on the other hand, you're still undecided about the field(s) you want to study or how you intend to use your major, you might want to choose a different prompt that's less focused on your future and more concentrated on how past events and experiences have shaped you as a person.
- Be careful when talking about your future goals. You don't want to come off too idealistic, but you also don't want to sound too broad or you'll come across unfocused and ambivalent. Try to strike a balance in how you discuss your future dreams so that they're both attainable and specific.
- Clearly connect your goals back to your current self and what you've accomplished up until this point. You want to make it clear that your goals are actually attainable, specifically with a Harvard education. If you say you hope to start your own interior design business after graduation but are planning to major in biology, you're only going to confuse the admissions committee!
- Emphasize any ways Harvard specifically will help you attain your academic goals. For example, is there a club you hope to join that could connect you with other students? Or is there a particular professor you want to work with? Don't just throw in names of clubs and people but specifically explain how these resources will help you reach your goals. In short, show Harvard that what they can offer you is exactly what you need to succeed.
Prompt 6: List of Books
Of all Harvard essay prompts, this one is by far the most unique.
Here, you're asked to simply list the books you've read in the past year. This essay is more than just a list, though—it's a brief overview of where your intellectual interests lie. These books may include works of fiction or nonfiction, essays, collections of poetry, etc.
Have you read a lot of diverse and interesting books in the past year? Are you an avid reader who loves dissecting books and essays? Do you enjoy a creative approach to college essays? If you answered yes to these questions, then this prompt is a perfect fit for you.
Even if you haven't read a ton of books this past year, if you were especially intrigued by some or all of what you did read, you could certainly use this prompt for your essay.
- Instead of just listing the titles of books you've read, you might want to include a short sentence or two commenting on your reaction to the book, your analysis of it, why you enjoyed or didn't enjoy it, etc., after each title. Be sure to vary up your comments so that you're highlighting different aspects of your personality. Also, don't just regurgitate analyses you've read online or that your teacher has said—try to come up with your own thoughts and interpretations.
- Don't feel the need to stick to only the most "impressive" books you read. The Harvard admissions committee wants to see your personality, not that of a pretentious applicant who claims to have only read Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway. Be honest: if you read Twilight in a day, why not make a short joke about how addictive it was?
- Go beyond a chronological list of books. It'll be far more interesting if you list the books you read in a more unique way. For example, you could organize titles by theme or in the order of how much you enjoyed them.
Prompt 7: Honesty
As you can see with this quotation, Harvard strongly values honesty and integrity. Therefore, if you go with this prompt, you're essentially telling Harvard that you, too, embody a powerful sense of morality and honesty.
- Was there a specific time in your life when you had to make a difficult choice to be honest about something with someone?
- Could this incident be considered morally ambiguous? In other words, was the "right thing to do" somewhat of a gray area?
- If you didn't make the "right" choice at the time, how did you come to terms with or learn from this decision? What were the consequences, and what did this experience teach you about your own morals and how you value honesty?
- Be wary of the topic you choose to write about. Don't discuss a situation in which you did something obviously unethical or, worse, illegal. These types of situations are very black and white and therefore don't pose much of a moral dilemma. Additionally, talking about such an experience might make you seem dishonest and immoral, which you absolutely do not want Harvard to think about you!
- Try to find a topic that isn't black and white. Choosing "gray" incidents will help emphasize why the choice was so difficult for you and also why it's affected you in this way. For example, say your friend calls you crying right before you have to leave to take the SAT. Do you skip the test to comfort your friend, or do you hang up and leave? This kind of situation does not have an evident "right" answer, making it an ideal one to use for this essay.
- You could also discuss a time when you did not make the "right" choice—and what you learned from that mistake. As long as you look closely at why you made the "wrong" choice and what this incident taught you about integrity, your essay will be interesting and relevant.
Prompt 8: Citizens and Citizen-Leaders
This prompt might sound a little vague, but all it wants to know is how you'll have a positive impact on both your classmates and on other people after graduation. Put simply, what kind of leader/citizen will you be at Harvard? After you graduate from college and enter the real world?
This prompt is similar to Prompt 5 in that it wants to know what kind of person you'll become after you leave college and how you'll positively influence society.
If you're a natural-born leader and have had at least a few significant experiences with leading or facilitating things such as club activities, field trips, volunteer efforts, and so on, then this Harvard essay prompt would be a great fit for you.
- Focus on a time when you led others and it resulted in a positive outcome. For instance, you could write about your position as team captain on your school's soccer team and how you would gather your teammates before each game to offer words of encouragement and advice on how to improve. You could then describe how your team began to perform better in games due to clearer communication and a stronger sense of sportsmanship. Make sure to answer the critical question: how did you lead and what ultimately made your leadership style successful?
- Discuss what kind of role your leadership skills will have at both Harvard and after you graduate. The prompt is asking about your classmates, so you must specifically address how your leadership skills will contribute to the lives of your peers. How will your past experiences with leading help you approach group projects, for example? Or clubs you join?
- Make sure to mention how you'll be a good citizen, too. By "citizen," Harvard essentially means a productive member of both the school and society in general. Basically, how have you contributed to the betterment of society? This is a good place to talk about experiences in which you played a crucial supporting role; for instance, maybe you helped out with a local volunteer initiative to feed the homeless, or maybe you joined a community project to build a new park in your town.
Prompt 9: Taking Time Off
Here, you're being asked what you plan to do with your time if you decide to defer your admission to Harvard or take time off during college. For example, will you travel the world? Work a full-time job? Do an internship? Take care of a sick relative?
Obviously, Harvard doesn't want to read that all you're going to do is relax and play video games all day, so make sure to think carefully about what your actual plans are and, more importantly, how these plans will benefit you as a person and as a student.
Only choose this Harvard essay prompt if you're pretty certain you'll be taking time off from college at some point (either before or during) and you have a relatively concrete idea of what you want to do during that time.
- Be specific and honest about your plans. While many students like to take time off to travel the world, you don't just want to write, "I plan to backpack Europe and learn about cultures." Think critically about your desires: why do you want to do this and how will this experience help you grow as a person? Don't just reiterate what you think Harvard wants to hear—be transparent about why you feel you need this time off from school to accomplish this goal.
- Be clear about why you must do this at this particular time. In other words, why do you think this (i.e., before or during college) is the right time to do whatever it is you plan to do? Is it something you can (or must) do at this exact time, such as a one-time internship that won't be offered again?
Prompt 10: Diversity
This final Harvard essay prompt is all about what you can bring to campus that will positively contribute to student diversity. Though we tend to think of race/ethnicity when using the word "diversity," you can actually interpret this word in a number of ways.
As a large and prestigious institution, Harvard strongly values students who have different and unique backgrounds and experiences, so it's important for them to admit students who embody these values as well.
This prompt is essentially a version of the diversity essay , which we talk about in more detail in our guide.
The main question to ask yourself before choosing this prompt is this: do you have a unique background or interest you can write about?
Here are some key types of diversity you can discuss (note that this is not an exhaustive list!):
- Your ethnicity or race
- A unique interest, passion, hobby, or skill you have
- Your family or socioeconomic background
- Your religion
- Your cultural group
- Your sex or gender/gender identity
- Your opinions or values
- Your sexual orientation
If any of these topics stand out to you and you can easily come up with a specific characteristic or experience to discuss for your essay, then this is a solid prompt to consider answering.
- Choose a personal characteristic that's had a large impact on your identity. Don't talk about your family's religion if it's had little or no impact on how you see and define yourself. Instead, concentrate on the most significant experiences or skills in your life. If you play the theremin every day and have a passion for music because of it, this would be a great skill to write about in your essay.
- Be clear about how your unique characteristic has affected your life and growth. You don't just want to introduce the experience/skill and leave it at that. How has it molded you into the person you are today? How has it influenced your ambitions and goals?
- Be sure to tie this characteristic back to the diversity at Harvard. Basically, how will your experience/skill/trait positively influence the Harvard student body? For example, if you come from a specific cultural group, how do you believe this will positively impact other students?
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A Real Harvard Essay Example
Our resident full SAT / ACT scorer and co-founder of PrepScholar, Allen Cheng , applied to, got into, and attended Harvard—and he's posted his own Harvard supplement essay for you to look at. You can read all about Allen's essay in his analysis of his successful Harvard application .
Allen describes his essay as "probably neutral to [his Harvard] application, not a strong net positive or net negative," so it's important to note that this Harvard essay example is not representative of exactly what you should do in your own Harvard supplement essay. Rather, we're showing it to you to give you a taste of how you could approach the Harvard essay and to demonstrate the kinds of simple mistakes you should avoid.
Writing a Memorable Harvard Essay: 3 Tips
To wrap up, here are three tips to keep in mind as you write your Harvard supplement essay.
#1: Use an Authentic Voice
Having a clear, unique, and authentic voice is the key to making yourself stand apart from other applicants in your Harvard application—and to ensuring you're leaving a long-lasting impression on the admissions committee.
Therefore, write your essay in the way that comes most naturally to you, and talk about the things that actually matter to you. For example, if you love puns, throwing one or two puns into your essay will emphasize your goofier, non-academic side.
Using your voice here is important because it humanizes your application. The essay is the only chance you get to show the admissions committee who you are and what you actually sound like, so don't pretend to be someone you're not!
The only thing to look out for is using too much slang or sounding too casual. In the end, this is still a college essay, so you don't want to come off sounding rude, disrespectful, or immature.
In addition, don't exaggerate any experiences or emotions. The Harvard admissions committee is pretty good at their job—they read thousands of applications each year!—so they'll definitely be able to tell if you're making a bigger deal out of something than you should be. Skip the hyperbole and stick to what you know.
Ultimately, your goal should be to strike a balance so that you're being true to yourself while also showcasing your intelligence and talents.
#2: Get Creative
Harvard is one of the most difficult schools to get into (it only has about a 4% acceptance rate! ), so you'll need to make sure your essay is really, really attention-grabbing. In short, get creative with it!
As you write your personal essay, recall the classic saying: show, don't tell. This means that you should rely more on description and imagery than on explanation.
For example, instead of writing, "I became more confident after participating in the debate club," you might write, "The next time I went onstage for a debate, my shoulders didn't shake as much; my lips didn't quiver; and my heart only beat 100 times instead of 120 times per minute."
Remember that your essay is a story about yourself, so make sure it's interesting to read and will ultimately be memorable to your readers.
#3: Edit and Proofread a Lot
My final tip is to polish your essay by editing and proofreading it a lot. This means you should look it over not once, not twice, but several times.
Here's the trick to editing it: once you've got a rough draft of your essay finished, put it away for a few days or a week or two. Don't look at it all during this time —you want to give yourself some distance so that you can look at your essay later with a fresh perspective.
After you've waited, read over your essay again, noting any mistakes in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation. Take care to also note any awkward wording, unclear areas, or irrelevant ideas. Ask yourself: is there anything you should add? Delete? Expand?
Once you've done this step several times and have a (nearly) final draft ready to turn in, give your essay to someone you can trust, such as a teacher, parent, or mentor. Have them look it over and offer feedback on tone, voice, theme, style, etc. In addition, make sure that they check for any glaring grammatical or technical errors.
Once all of this is done, you'll have a well-written, polished Harvard essay ready to go— one that'll hopefully get you accepted!
If you've got questions about other parts of the Harvard application, check out our top guide to learn what you'll need to submit to get into the prestigious Ivy League school .
How tough is it to get into Harvard? To other selective universities ? For answers, read our expert guide on how to get into Harvard and the Ivy League , written by an actual Harvard alum!
What's the average SAT score of admitted Harvard applicants? The average ACT score? The average GPA? Learn all this and more by visiting our Harvard admissions requirements page .
Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.
Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.
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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.
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Harvard Style Citation and Referencing: a Detailed Guide from Experts
Defining What is Harvard Citation Style and Referencing
From the first time we put our pen on paper, we're taught how important it is to give credit where it's needed. Whether a research paper outline or a doctoral dissertation, proper references, and citations are the foundation of academic work in any field. And when it's time to cite sources, there's one style that stands out: Harvard style. In this article, we will explore the nuances of Harvard style citations and help you navigate the complexity of this important academic tool.
Developed by the Harvard Graduate School for Education, the Harvard style citation is a Ferrari of citations designed for the ultimate advantage of your research. Harvard Style, like a sports car, is streamlined, precise, and designed for speed. From its inception at Harvard at the beginning 20th century, this style has become a standard of academic reference and has been praised for its clarity and sophistication.
Intended to be simple and accessible to all, the Harvard style quickly became popular in the mid-20s and is based upon using the date-author citation in the document text, together with the detailed list of references at the document's end. Nowadays that it has gained universal acknowledgment, Harvard referencing is a critical instrument for scientists in multiple disciplines, owing to its simple yet tasteful design that has endured for many years.
Importance of Using Harvard Style Citation Properly
Using Harvard style citations and references correctly is like putting a hidden weapon in the arsenal of your academics. It'll be more than just following rules; it'll be about proving your credibility and that your work is grounded in solid evidence and reliable sources. Therefore, proper citations and references are crucial for a wide range of purposes:
- First, by acknowledging your sources, you avoid plagiarism and demonstrate that you've taken the necessary precautions and are not attempting to pass on someone else's work as yours.
- Secondly, Harvard citation style and references allow readers to track their sources and verify their assertions. This is especially relevant in fields in which precision and accuracy are important, e.g., in the fields of science and technology.
- Thirdly, using Harvard style citations and references shows you belong to a larger academic community and know their standards and norms. By conforming to the customary citation and referencing guidelines, you can communicate that you are a reliable and trustworthy scholar who values their work.
Before finding out more of the important details about the Harvard referencing style, you might want to delegate your ' Do My Math Homework ' request to our experts!
Key Features of Harvard Style Citation and Referencing
Below are a few of the principal characteristics of Harvard Style that make it such a popular choice among scholars:
In-text Citation: For in-text citations, the Harvard citation style adopts a straightforward author-date structure, implying that, after a direct quotation or paraphrase, you should provide the author's last name and the date of publication in parenthesis. This way, your readers can quickly identify your sources of information without looking for a specific reference list.
Example 1: There is considerable debate within the literature on sustainable development about the relationship between sustainable development and economic growth (Mitlin, 1992)
Reference List: A full reference list with complete bibliographic details for each work you referenced in your text is included at the conclusion of your paper. Reference lists in Harvard Style must follow a certain structure containing the author's name, the work's title, the year of publication, and other details.
Example: Mitlin, D., 1992. Sustainable development: A guide to literature. Environment and urbanization , 4 (1), pp.111-124.
Consistency : Consistency is one of the hallmarks of Harvard Style, which means you should adhere to the same structure for all citations and references and include any relevant information.
Flexibility : Books, journal articles, web pages, and other sources can all be formatted in Harvard Style. Depending on the kind of source, it also allows differences in the citation style.
How to Use Harvard Style Citation and Referencing
As was already established, references and citations in the Harvard style are commonly accepted. Therefore, you should take the required actions to ensure accurate citation. Let's adhere to these basic guidelines to give credit where credit is due:
Step 1: Understand the Basics
The Harvard style requires a list of references at the end of the document that contains all the information about the sources and a text citation that includes the author's name and the year of publication. Before you begin, be sure you understand these fundamental principles.
Step 2: Collect Your Sources
Before you begin, gather all the resources you'll need for the paper, such as books and websites. Make sure to write down all the pertinent details for each source, such as the author's name and title, the publication date, and the publisher.
Step 3: Create In-Text Citations
In-text references must be used when using someone else's words or ideas in your writing. Usually, the cited passage or paraphrase is followed by a Harvard style in text citation. As long as it is obvious to whom it refers, it comes at the conclusion of the pertinent phrase. For example, (Neal, 2022).
Step 4: Create a Reference List
Make a list of references towards the conclusion where you can discover all the information about each source. The author's last name and first initial appear at the top of the reference entry. Only the first word of the title and any proper nouns are capitalized. Similar to in-text citations, only the first author should be listed when there are four or more; beyond that, add 'et al.' to the end of the list.
Step 5: Check Your Formatting
Make sure your references are properly formatted in accordance with Harvard Style Guidelines. This may include:
- Use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial in size 12.
- Set margins to 1 inch on all sides.
- Use double spacing throughout the document, including the reference list.
- Place a header on each page, which should include the title of your paper and the page number, located in the top right-hand corner.
- Make sure to include a title page with your paper title, your name, the name of your institution, and the date of submission. Or you can always find out more on how to title an essay from our expert writers!
- Use headings as a way to organize and simplify your paper with bold or italic letters.
- Include in-text citations
- Include a reference list at the end of your paper.
By selecting the button below, you may get a template from our research paper writing services that includes a sample of an essay cover page, headers, subheadings, and a reference list.
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Common Errors and Pitfalls in Using Harvard Style
While the Harvard Style citation may seem straightforward, there are several common errors and pitfalls that students and researchers should be aware of to ensure they are using the style correctly.
One common error is forgetting to include page numbers when referencing a source. Harvard style requires that page numbers be included when citing a direct quote or paraphrasing from a source. Failing to include page numbers can make it difficult for readers to locate the information being cited and can result in lost points on an assignment or paper.
Another pitfall is the improper formatting of references. Harvard style requires specific formatting for different types of sources, such as italicizing book titles and using quotation marks for article titles. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in a loss of points and confusion for readers.
Another common mistake is inconsistency in formatting and citation styles. It is important to use the same style throughout a document, including in-text citations and the reference list. Mixing different styles can make the document difficult to read and may result in a lower grade. And, if this problem sounds familiar and you wish 'if only somebody could rewrite my essay ,' get our essay writing help in a flash!
Finally, another pitfall to avoid is relying too heavily on online Harvard referencing generator tools. They can be useful for creating references, although they are not always reliable and might not adhere to the exact rules of Harvard style. To guarantee that the references produced by these tools are accurate and in the right format, it is crucial to carefully review and adjust them.
Meanwhile, if you're not really feeling like dealing with the nitty-gritty of referencing your character analysis essay using Harvard style, no sweat! We've got your back on that one too.
In conclusion, knowing what is Harvard citation style and how to properly cite sources using this style is an essential ability for any student or researcher writing academically. The main lesson to be learned is that accurate citation not only shows academic honesty but also strengthens the authority of your work and backs up your claims. You may make sure that your writing is correctly referenced, structured, and accepted in the academic world by including these important lessons in it.
And if you feel like you need extra help, our expert paper writing services will provide you with a high-quality Harvard style citation example paper that demonstrates correct citation and formatting, giving you the knowledge and confidence to cite sources effectively in your own work!
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What is Harvard Style?
What you need to know, harvard style tutorial.
- Other Styles
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The Harvard referencing system is known as the Author-Date style . It emphasizes the name of the creator of a piece of information and the date of publication, with the list of references in alphabetical order at the end of your paper.
Unlike other citation styles, there is no single, definitive version of Harvard Style. Therefore, you may see a variation in features such as punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations, and the use of italics.
Always check with your instructor and follow the rules he or she gives you.
- Harvard Style Guidelines Your class handout
- Harvard Referencing Quick Guide From Staffordshire University
Harvard Style will affect your paper in two places:
- In-text citations in the body of your paper, and
- The reference list at the end of your paper
- All in-text citations should be listed in the reference list at the end of your paper.
- Reference list entries need to contain all the information that someone reading your paper would need in order to find your source.
- Reference lists in Harvard Style are arranged alphabetically by first author.
- Begin your Reference list on a new page after your text and number it consecutively.
Sample References List:
Click on the Links Below to See Additional Examples:
- Sample Paper Paper provided by Kurt Olson
- Harvard Citation Examples Document created by The University of Western Australia
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Harvard Style & Format: A 5-Minute Guide + Samples
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The Harvard referencing style is a widely used system for citing and referencing sources in academic writing. It provides a consistent and standardized format for acknowledging the works of others that you have used in your research.
Struggling to remember tricky peculiarities of Harvard style referencing and formatting? Don’t worry, you have come across a helpful material. In this article, you will find the basics of Harvard style formatting which would be useful for your academic progress. This easy but detailed Harvard style guide contains all format requirements for a paper and some structural tips. Besides, it covers general rules on how to cite your sources properly in your text. Feel free to use these guidelines for your academic endeavors. Let us go through details of Harvard style referencing and formatting together!
Reference Harvard Style: Basics
Harvard style is an author-date system of referencing. It’s similar to an APA paper format in terms of general formatting of pages and text. But this style follows its own rules for bibliography and in-text citations formatting. Harvard style is typically used for essays in such academic disciplines:
- Behavioral Sciences
But this doesn’t mean you can’t use this paper format in other areas of study. The general rule is to put references to your sources in round brackets. Specify author’s name and publication year. These references should come after your quotes (direct or indirect) in the end of a respective sentence or paragraph. Full details about all sources you have used should be provided at the end of your work. This section should be named ‘Reference List’. Buy coursework or any other type of research paper that will be referenced for you by our experts.
Harvard Format: General Requirements
Let us explore some general rules for Harvard formatting:
- Font: Times New Roman or Arial
- Size: 12 pt
- Text: double-spaced and left-aligned
- Indent: first line of a paragraph has indent of 0.5 inch
- Margins: 1 inch from each side
A Harvard style citation must have a Title page, header (or running head), headings and Reference list. We will take a closer look at formatting each section down below.
Harvard Style Title Page
What are the requirements for a Harvard style cover page? Title page is otherwise known as front page. This is the first page of your paper to be observed by your reader, i.e. your teacher first of all. Therefore, it is highly important to format it properly. Formatting rules for Harvard Title page:
- Paper title is fully capitalised and centered. Should be placed at approximately 33% of your page counting from its top.
- Your name as an author, centered and placed at the middle of your page.
- Course name at approximately 66% of the page.
- Instructor’s name on a new line.
- University’s name.
- Submission date.
See the sample of a Harvard title page down below.
Formatting a Header in Harvard
An important detail: you are required to use a header in Harvard referencing format. This section is repeatedly shown on all pages of your paper except the title page. You have to configure it once. Then, headers will get automatically added on each new page. Headers in Harvard referencing format contains such information:
- Page number, right aligned
- Shortened title of your paper, not capitalized, right-aligned, to the left of page number.
It is important to use shortened title because there is not too much space in any header. Also, another requirement is putting exactly 5 spaces between your title and a page number in headers.
Harvard Style Heading
Now let us explore some rules of using subheadings in Harvard style, in detail. Typically there are 2 levels of section headings recommended for use in such papers. They have different formatting. This helps to tell one from another, without using different font sizes for them.
- Level-1 subheadings for a bigger section. They must be centered, capitalized, but at the same time not indented, not bold, not underscored, not italicized.
- Level-2 subheading for any subsection, typically 1-2 paragraphs. They must be capitalized, left-aligned, not indented. Besides, they should be italicized.
The plain text of any paragraph should go on a new line after subheadings in Harvard style, be it Level-1 or Level-2 subheading.
Harvard Reference List
Listing all sources you have used for your research in a proper order is a core element of Harvard style. Reference list should be the last part of your paper but absolutely not the least. Now let us explore some critical rules for a reference list formatting. The Harvard-style reference list section has its own subtitle, namely ‘Reference List’. Similarly to a Level-1 subheading, it should be capitalized and centered. The rest of your content in this section goes from a new line after your title. No extra empty lines are to be added. Your references in this list are numbered and sorted alphabetically. No lines are indented. Each item in this list starts from a new line. Below we will describe a format for referencing in detail.
Harvard Style Bibliography
Sometimes your professor or instructor might ask you to create a Bibliography section instead of a common Reference list. So what is the Harvard Bibliography format? Harvard style bibliography includes not only those sources you have cited in your text but also. It also includes materials which you have read to get ideas for your research and to better understand the context of a selected problem. So, such section would contain more items than a Reference list. Apart of that, the general Harvard Bibliography format is the same:
- Heading, ‘Bibliography’ is formatted the same way as a Level-1 subheading
- Sources are put into alphabetical order
- List is double-spaced
- Lines do not have any indent
- Each item of this list starts from a new line.
Harvard Style Citations: General Rules
Another crucial element of Harvard style is referring to your sources inside your essay. That’s why you should know how to cite in Harvard style. Keep in mind that the main purpose of a proper format is to ensure your paper is plagiarizm-free. Sometimes, you should cite ideas from books, magazines or newspapers. But you can only refer to such ideas, otherwise it will be considered a form of plagiarism. Below we will show you how to cite in Harvard style, providing general information about published sources. So let us proceed and learn more about shortened quotes and full references.
How to Quote in Harvard Style
Here are the rules of Harvard format in-text citation:
- Add them in parentheses, usually at the end of quotes.
- Put an author’s last name and a publication year into round brackets, add page number if needed.
- When quoting a web page, give a paragraph number instead of a page since many websites don’t divide text into pages.
- Direct citation requires quotation marks and a page number is mandatory in parenthesis
- If you have mentioned an author’s name in your quote, do not include it into brackets, just leave a year and a page numbers there.
- Sometimes you might need to quote two different sources at once. In such case include both into the same parenthesis and divide them by a semicolon.
Creating References in Harvard Style
And this is how you should be referencing in Harvard style, providing full descriptions of the sources you have used. Let us start with the general book format:
- Last name of the author followed by comma and initials
- If there are multiple authors, their names are separated with comma, except the last one which must be separated by ‘&’
- Year of publication follows, without a comma
- A full title of the book is given, italicized
- Publisher name
- City and country where this book was published are the last to be provided.
Here are several Harvarvard referencing rules for other source types:
- Refer to an edited book by putting ‘(ed.)’ or ‘(eds)’ after the editor name(s)
- If a book was translated, add ‘trans. I Lastname’
- Refer to an article in any book or journal by adding an article name in quotation marks but not italicized
- Refer to a website by adding ‘viewed’ and the date when you’ve opened it, followed by the URL in angle brackets.
In this article we have explored the Harvard referencing guide, one of the most popular ones for students in the UK. Feel free to use these tips and proceed to writing a winning essay with flawless formatting! Just keep in mind the following key concepts of the Harvard style:
- Title or cover page
- Headers and their contents
- Subheadings of two levels with different formatting
- Reference list with full-detailed description of sources
- In-text citations with lots of different forms for various quote types.
In conclusion, consider our custom term paper writing solution if you lack the time or got into writer's block.
If you have questions, please visit our FAQ section or contact our expert writers. They will gladly help you create references in line with all requirements. On top of that, our writers are highly experienced in academic writing and can assist you with any type of formatting.
FAQ About Harvard Format
1. is harvard reference style used in colleges.
The Harvard style can be used in colleges as well as in other educational institutions and even by professional researchers. While it is relatively popular in many countries for research paper referencing, Harvard style is most widespread in universities of the UK nowadays. Other styles (APA, MLA and Chicago) dominate the US educational institutions.
2. What is the difference between Harvard and Oxford referencing styles?
The Harvard style format is a typical example of an author-date system as it requires using author’s names and publication dates for in-text referencing. You should create a complete reference list as a separate section in the end of your research paper. The Oxford style on the contrary uses numbered footnotes for citing sources used on your page. In-text citations on this page consist just from numbers of respective notes.
Emma Flores knows all about formatting standards. She shares with StudyCrumb readers tips on creating academic papers that will meet high-quality standards.
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Cite Them Right 12th ed.
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Stay organized by creating a separate reference list for each of your assignments.
Choose between Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, and more options to match your style.
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Explanatory tips help you get the details right to ensure accurate citations.
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Missing information, citation examples, tools and resources, how to reference in harvard style.
Harvard referencing is a widely used referencing style (especially in UK universities) that includes author-date in-text citations and a complete reference list at the end of the text.
There are many versions of Harvard referencing style. Our guidance reflects the rules laid out in Cite Them Right: The Essential Referencing Guide (12th edition) by Richard Pears and Graham Shields.
Scribbr’s free reference generator can create flawless Harvard style references for a wide variety of sources.
- Cite a webpage
- Cite a book
- Cite a journal article
Harvard reference entries
The reference list appears at the end of your text, listing full information on all the sources you cited. A Harvard reference entry generally mentions the author , date , title , publisher or publication that contains the source, and URL or DOI if relevant.
You’ll include different details depending on the type of source you’re referencing, as some information is only relevant to certain kinds of publications.
The format of a reference entry varies based on source type. Apart from the information included, formatting details such as the use of italics also depend on what you’re referencing. The tabs below show formats and examples for the most commonly referenced source types.
The suggested information won’t necessarily all be available for the source you’re referencing. To learn how to work around missing information in your references, check the table below.
Harvard Referencing Generator
Generate accurate Harvard style references in seconds
Harvard in-text citations
Harvard referencing style uses author-date in-text citations, which means including the author’s last name and the publication year of the source, like this: (Smith, 2019). This citation points the reader to the corresponding entry in the reference list.
Always include an in-text citation when you quote or paraphrase a source. Include a page number or range when available and relevant to indicate which part of the source you’re drawing on. Using material from other sources without acknowledging them is plagiarism.
In-text citations can be parenthetical (author and date both in parentheses) or narrative (author name mentioned in the sentence, date in parentheses). A source may also have more than one author. If there are four or more, name only the first, followed by “ et al. ”
As with reference entries, it’s good to be aware of how to deal with missing information in your in-text citations.
Scribbr offers a variety of other tools and resources to help with referencing and other aspects of academic writing:
- Referencing generator : Scribbr’s free referencing generator can also create flawless citations in other styles, such as APA and MLA .
- Free plagiarism checker : Detect and fix plagiarism issues with the most accurate plagiarism checker available, powered by Turnitin.
- Proofreading services : Make sure your writing is clear and professional with the help of an expert editor.
- Guide to Harvard style : Understand the rules of Harvard referencing style, and learn how to cite a variety of sources.
- Guides and videos : Explore our Knowledge Base, our YouTube channel, and a wide variety of other educational resources covering topics ranging from language to statistics.
Write it Right - A guide to Harvard referencing style
- Referencing & Citing
What is Paraphrasing?
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Paraphrasing is expressing someone else’s writing in your own choice of words, while keeping the same essential meaning. As Pears and Shields (2019, p. 15) explain, it is ‘ an alternative way of referring to an author’s ideas or arguments without using direct quotations from their text’.
Paraphrasing is generally more highly valued by academics than direct quoting because it allows you to demonstrate a greater understanding of your source and helps you to maintain your personal writing style and the smooth flow of your essay.
Don’t forget to include in-text citations ( author and date) in the text of your assignment and full references at the end of your assignment every time you paraphrase someone else’s words or ideas.
The example below (Handley and Cox, 2007) shows extracts from two student essays, both based on the same original text. The first extract demonstrates unacceptable paraphrasing and referencing, while the second extract demonstrates acceptable paraphrasing and referencing.
- Paraphrasing - an overview A guide on paraphrasing, academic writing, citing and referencing
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / Harvard Referencing / Harvard Referencing Style Examples / Referencing direct quotes in Harvard style
Referencing direct quotes in Harvard style
If you include a direct quote in your paper, you’ll need to know how to create Harvard in-text citations . The Harvard style of referencing follows an author-date format for in-text citations; this means that the surname of the author and the date of publication are used to cite a quotation or idea borrowed from another author. If you include a direct quote in your paper and that source has page numbers, you’ll also need to know how to format page numbers in Harvard style .
Follow these rules when directly quoting from a source in Harvard style:
Short direct quotations
A short direct quote is one to two lines long. When you are using a short direct quotation from a source, it should be enclosed in quotation marks. The following format is used:
“Quotation” (Surname of the author, year of publication of the source, page number if applicable).
“He put up his book of notes in a very deliberate manner” (Gaskell, 1855, p. 290).
Note that if you mention the name of the author in the sentence containing the direct quotation, you do not have to put the author’s name in the parenthetical in-text citation.
Gaskell (1855, p. 292) writes, “She had sunk under her burden.”
While referencing this quotation in the reference list, you will follow the following format:
Surname of the author, initial(s). (Year of publication) Title of the source . Place of publication: Publisher.
Gaskell, E. (1855) North and south . London: Vintage Publishing.
Longer direct quotations
Quotations that run for more than two lines should be separated from the paragraph. A free line should be left above and below the quotation.
A colon is placed before the quotation. Unlike short quotations, longer quotations are not enclosed in quotation marks. The author’s name, date of publication, and page number are included.
The font size of the quotation should be at least 2 points smaller than the font size of the rest of the text.
The full citation in the reference list should be formatted the same way as for shorter direct quotations.
The narrator describes why Radley house was different from the otherwise amiable neighborhood of Maycomb county. As stated by Lee (1960, p. 9):
The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb. They did not go to church, Maycomb’s principal recreation, but worshiped at home; Mrs. Radley seldom if ever crossed the street for a mid-morning coffee break with her neighbors, and certainly never joined a missionary circle.
This clearly shows why the Radleys were different.
Published October 29, 2020.
Harvard Formatting Guide
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- Page Numbers
- Writing an Outline
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🤔 What is a Harvard Referencing Generator?
A Harvard Referencing Generator is a tool that automatically generates formatted academic references in the Harvard style.
It takes in relevant details about a source -- usually critical information like author names, article titles, publish dates, and URLs -- and adds the correct punctuation and formatting required by the Harvard referencing style.
The generated references can be copied into a reference list or bibliography, and then collectively appended to the end of an academic assignment. This is the standard way to give credit to sources used in the main body of an assignment.
👩🎓 Who uses a Harvard Referencing Generator?
Harvard is the main referencing style at colleges and universities in the United Kingdom and Australia. It is also very popular in other English-speaking countries such as South Africa, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. University-level students in these countries are most likely to use a Harvard generator to aid them with their undergraduate assignments (and often post-graduate too).
🙌 Why should I use a Harvard Referencing Generator?
A Harvard Referencing Generator solves two problems:
- It provides a way to organise and keep track of the sources referenced in the content of an academic paper.
- It ensures that references are formatted correctly -- inline with the Harvard referencing style -- and it does so considerably faster than writing them out manually.
A well-formatted and broad bibliography can account for up to 20% of the total grade for an undergraduate-level project, and using a generator tool can contribute significantly towards earning them.
⚙️ How do I use MyBib's Harvard Referencing Generator?
Here's how to use our reference generator:
- If citing a book, website, journal, or video: enter the URL or title into the search bar at the top of the page and press the search button.
- Choose the most relevant results from the list of search results.
- Our generator will automatically locate the source details and format them in the correct Harvard format. You can make further changes if required.
- Then either copy the formatted reference directly into your reference list by clicking the 'copy' button, or save it to your MyBib account for later.
MyBib supports the following for Harvard style:
🍏 What other versions of Harvard referencing exist?
There isn't "one true way" to do Harvard referencing, and many universities have their own slightly different guidelines for the style. Our generator can adapt to handle the following list of different Harvard styles:
- Cite Them Right
- Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)
- University of the West of England (UWE)
Daniel is a qualified librarian, former teacher, and citation expert. He has been contributing to MyBib since 2018.
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Images (including photographs, charts, graphs and diagrams) are cited by using captions to label the image and provide information about its source.
Images are referred to as figures (e.g. Figure 1) in the body of the text. Use the same locator (e.g. Figure 1) to caption the image. Provide information about the source of the image in the caption as well. Place the image close to where it is mentioned in the text.
Example figure and caption:
Figure 1: The pyramid of evidence. Source: Ho PM, Peterson PN and Masoudi FA (2008)
The Style Manual contains more information about captions for images and figures , as well as legends for graphs.
Begin captions with the same locator used in the body of the text, to link the text to the figure. Include a brief explanation for the figure, and include creator and date details if the figure is from another creator (e.g. a graph from another source). If you have created a graph using published data, include the details of the data source in your caption.
- For a figure created yourself, e.g. a graph of your own data, include a brief description.
Rule: Figure number: Brief explanation.
Example: Figure 1: Changes in workplace productivity due to COVID-19.
- For a graph created using published data from another source.
Rule: Figure number: Brief explanation of the graph or table, data obtained from Author A or Name of Agency (Year) Title of data set [data set], Name of Website, accessed DD Month YYYY. URL
Example: Figure 1: AUD/USD exchange rates from 1970 to 2000. Data sourced from RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) (n.d.) Exchange rates: monthly: July 1969 to December 2009 [data set], accessed 4 December 2019. https://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/historical-data.html
Note: If using data from a PDF or spreadsheet, avoid linking directly to the document. Instead link to the webpage that hosts the document.
- For a graph reproduced from a published source:
Rule: Figure number: Description of figure. From Author A or Organisation (Year)
Example: Figure 1: The pyramid of evidence. Source: Ho PM, Peterson PN and Masoudi FA (2008)
Note: Include the full reference for the publication in the reference list.
See the Style Manual section on captions for images and figures , as well as legends for graphs.
For artworks, see the Style Manual section on works of art .
Use tables for exact values and information that is too detailed for the text. Use a table only if there isn't a simpler way to present your content such as a list or a diagram.
Tables should include a caption title row and column headings, information (exact values)
Use Table 1, Table 2 etc to caption tables.
See the Style Manual section on t ables .
To include a data set in your reference list, use the following guidelines.
For online data sets, include the accessed date and the URL. If you’re citing a PDF or spreadsheet, avoid linking directly to the document. Instead link to the webpage that hosts the document.
Rule: Author A or Name of Agency (Year) Title of data set [data set], Name of Website, accessed DD Month YYYY. URL
Example: National Native Title Tribunal (2014) Native Title determination outcomes [data set], accessed 4 January 2020. data.gov.au/data/dataset/native-title-determination-outcomes
Example: RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) (n.d.) Exchange rates: monthly: July 1969 to December 2009 [data set], accessed 4 December 2019. https://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/historical-data.html
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