Following appropriate format and proper referencing and citation is one of the standard practices expected of a student when writing an academic research paper. Most universities and colleges prefer students to structure their papers in either MLA, APA, Harvard or Chicago styles. However, Harvard and APA are two significant formats and styles used by papers service in scholarly papers that share many features in style and referencing.

Is Harvard the Same as APA Format?

Not really, while the two shares most aspects regarding paper format and referencing, every referencing style is unique from each other in a way. The American Psychological Association (APA) style referencing style is mainly used in education, behavioral and social sciences. Harvard Style is mainly used for citing text materials, especially those dealing with scientific fields. However, these two tend to have some common similarities though with some key differences. It is important to understand the difference between Harvard and APA styles to avoid mix-up in your writing. Here we will discuss some of the few differences between APA and Harvard referencing formats and styles that research paper writers should keep in mind.


Difference Between Harvard style and APA style of Research paper formatting

There several differences that are conspicuous between APA and Harvard. They include;


writerIn APA style, the first page (title page/cover page) comprises of a header with a short description of the main title aligned to the left in caps after the word “Running Head,” i.e. (Running head: WORLD WAR II), the rest of the pages has the same header title but with the “Running head” missing. The header in Harvard style comprises of a short description of the main title aligned to the right with the page number. 5 spaces separate the header title and the page number.

In-text citation

In APA style, the author’s last name is spelled in full while his/her last name reduced to initials. Only the first word of the source title, subtitle and proper nouns such as names are capitalized, all the remaining letters and words remain in lower case. Also, the title should be written out in italics.
List of Reference-In APA, this section is titled “Reference(s)” while in Harvard the same is titled “Reference List”.

Page Numbers

In APA style, page numbers are referenced by year, colon and then the page number, without including the letter “p’ before the page number, i.e. (2012: 42). In Harvard style, the same is referenced by year, coma, and then page number with letter ‘p’ before the page number, i.e. (2012, p.42).


In the Harvard style of referencing, any edited works are supposed to be cited using “edited by” or “ed[s]”. In the APA system, “(Ed[s])” is used for the same purpose. In APA referencing, the names of the editor(s) are put before the title of the edited source while in Harvard the same is placed after the title of the edited work.

Important to Note

Students tend to confuse between these two writing due to the various similarities they share. You need to note the above difference to avoid confusions when asked to format your paper in either Harvard or APA style. Always consult with the professor if you are not sure of the right format to structure for your paper.