RGU Referencing Style Updates

This page provides information for staff on the updates to the institutional Harvard and Vancouver referencing styles.

RGU Library is working on a refresh of the recommended institutional Harvard and Vancouver referencing styles. Consultation was held with AQLE and Associate Deans for Academic Development and Student Experience, and the project was approved by QAEC.

The intention is to have the new styles in place for Semester 1 in September 2024.

The New Style

Guidance will continue to be provided for Harvard and Vancouver referencing but that guidance will conform to the Cite them Right style style rather than the current RGU versions.

The Cite them Right style has been chosen to be the default Library guidance from September 2024 as it is currently the most used style across HEIs and FE colleges in the UK.

Currently in its 12th edition, Cite Them Right is continually updated with the latest information sources and refreshed style guidance.

The Library holds both ebook and print copies of the full Cite them Right guide. This book provides guidance for many more resource types than are included in the Library guides and can be borrowed or consulted by any staff or students.

The Library and AQLE created the current styles over 10 years ago. However, as resources have evolved over time, the RGU institutional styles have sometimes struggled to keep pace with these changes.

We have found that students can get very confused by the requirements of the institutional styles. This includes:

  • Capitalising the author’s names
  • Providing publication details for website references

This is quite different to the referencing methods they may have used in previous educational settings.

Changing the styles should streamline the experience for students and lessen their anxiety around referencing.

The default referencing styles will continue to be Harvard and Vancouver. But, our templates and support information will conform to the Cite Them Right guidance rather than the bespoke RGU guidance.

No. Harvard and Vancouver are the only styles with an RGU specific variant, so it will only be Harvard and Vancouver styles that are changing.

The Library also supports APA and OSCOLA referencing but the guidance for these is taken from the official bodies responsible for these styles.

The old RGU referencing styles will remain available in RefWorks for the foreseeable future. However, we will recommend that staff and students begin to use the new styles from September unless there is a specific requirement to use the older styles. For example, final year or January start students may find it preferable to continue to use the old bespoke styles during 24/25.

There should be no loss of data if converting existing RefWorks content to the new styles but some reformatting may be required.

The Library are in the process of creating the new styles within RefWorks and further details will be provided to colleagues once this work is complete.

Benefits of Changing the Referencing Styles

We know that this change will cause some short-term disruption. But we believe that this will be outweighed by the longer-term benefits:

  • Reduction in student anxiety around referencing through removing the outdated elements of the current RGU styles.
  • Helping students at transition stages by using a referencing style commonly used in many tertiary institutions across the UK.
  • Increased ability to keep the styles current, adapting to recent technologies and the changing information landscape.
  • Better integration with referencing software including RefWorks, Zotero and Mendeley.

Supporting Staff and Students


We will duplicate the current Harvard and Vancouver templates and update them with examples conforming to the Cite them Right variant.

We will continue to run regular workshops for Harvard referencing and the teaching materials will be updated to reflect the new style. We can also run classes on Vancouver, APA or OSCOLA referencing on request.

The changes to the referencing styles will have an impact on both staff and students. Tasks that colleagues will need to undertake include:

  • Making a decision on which of your students can continue to use the classic styles. We recomend that only final year students and January 2024 starts should continue to use classic with all other students transitioning to the new styles.
  • Updating any course documentation or materials that either include references or give advice on citing and referencing sources.
  • Ensuring familiarity with the new styles so that effective marking of the citation and reference elements of submitted work can take place

Any links that direct students to the overall Referencing and RefWorks page or to the overall Harvard Template pages can remain in place. Links to specific sections of the Harvard or Vancouver guidance, or to individual templates, may need to be changed. These pages are still being worked on so links are not yet available.

We intend to run staff workshops during June and will create a recording for those unable to attend a live session.

We will also hold drop-in sessions where colleagues can ask questions and get support. Further information on these sessions will be provided via the Bulletin.

The decision was made to provide only limited information to students prior to September 2024. It was felt that providing this information at too early a stage would confuse students and lead them to misunderstand the timescale. We did not want to cause any panic to students who were undertaking exams or final submissions. Colleagues may advise their students that some changes are coming and that full information will be provided in September.

Project Timeline

We will release templates for commonly used resources (books, journal articles, websites) by the end of March 2024. This will facilitate updating most course materials.

For guidance on other resource types, colleagues can contact the Library or consult the Cite Them Right ebook.

More templates will be added throughout the summer, with the majority expected to be available before the start of Semester 1 in September 2024.

Guidance on RefWorks will be provided.

2024/25 will be a transition year.

Any links will be redirected to the refreshed templates.

We understand that final year students may feel anxious about this transition. So, we will keep the RGU institutional style guidance available.

The final decision on which version of the styles that students should use during this year will be at the discretion of schools.

We aim to discontinue the RGU institutional styles during summer 2025.

Contact Us

Please get in touch with any questions about the referencing styles updates. We'll be happy to advise. Contact the team by email at library.support@rgu.ac.uk