When I was at university I hated referencing. Where does the comma go? Why is a full stop here? And really who cares whether the book title or journal article title is italised? Now that I am an editor, I care. And not because you pay me to. I actually find the differences in referencing styles fascinating. My favourite referencing style for its sheer complexity is AGLC. So all of you humanities students should be thankful you aren’t doing law, ‘cause let me tell you their referencing system is a special kind of pain that makes APA look like Playschool.
I have a special shelf in my office saved for books that detail referencing systems, Harvard, APA, AGLC, Chicago (I feel happy whenever I look at them and their orderly existence, but I also collect old dictionaries so that tells you a little something about what kind of bibliophile I am).
If you just want to submit your essay or thesis and know that you have to get this referencing thing right because a percentage of your mark is based on it, I’ll let you in on a little secret (a website I go to when I am too lazy to turn my chair around and reach for one of the abovementioned books) re:cite. I bolded it because it is really is that awesome. The University of Melbourne Library houses re:cite, a tool that lets you click on the referencing system you are using, then click on the type of reference you want to cite (i.e. book, chapter in a book, journal article, webpage etc.) and voila, it sets out exactly how you should reference the book. Have I mentioned I love it? And because the University of Melbourne understands plagiarism and providing credit where it is due, they even have a little note at the bottom of the page stating that it is based on a similar tool from the University of Auckland.
Other universities have their own websites, but I haven’t found one as good as this. So if you are writing an essay or even your thesis, have a look at the website and give it a go, it will save you time and maybe even a little sanity!