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Sources and referencing

As a student at the Faculty of Humanities, you may be asked to write an academic assignment. In order to write a good academic assignment, it is essential with the accurate use of sources.

Home exams

Please note that the same rules for use of sources and referencing still apply for these short home examinations, with one exception: For take-home examinations that are 6 hours and shorter, you are not required to include a reference list (bibliography) at the end of your essay. Quotes are still to be marked as such and sources are to be included in the text.

Note that re-use of your own previously submitted examination or obligatory activity is not permitted. If you quote from your own previously submitted material, you must follow the rules for sources and citations. 

The student's obligations

As a university student, you are required to familiarize yourself with the rules for sources and citations. It is essential with accurate referencing when writing an academic assignment. Using other people’s material without declaring it properly may be considered as cheating or attempted cheating. The consequences of cheating or attempted cheating may be an annulment of examinations and exclusion from all universities and university colleges in Norway. 

Accurate use of sources and citations

Your assignment must be your own independent work. You may use other people’s material only as sources of information to support and illustrate your line of reasoning. The main part of your work in terms of structure, argumentation, and content must be your own. 

Below is an introduction to the four basic principles of using sources: references, citation, paraphrasing, and bibliography. Examples are given. The style used in these examples is APA 6th. Several other styles exist, and you may want to find out if there is a specific style that is most commonly used within your field of study. In any case, the four principles apply to all styles. And no matter which style you choose, you have to be consistent throughout your entire paper


  • A reference (that is, source references) consists of information about where the source has been retrieved, for example, a book, article or website. In referencing printed text you must also include the page number. (References to older texts should also include the chapter.)
  • Reference (to a book): Two-thirds of Pompeii has now been excavated (Berry, 2007, p. 41).


  • A paraphrase is a free rendering (in your own words) of something another author has written or said. A paraphrase should not be enclosed in quotation marks and should not exceed two to three sentences. A reference must be included.


  • A quotation reproduces someone else’s words exactly as they were written or said.  If the quotation is less than three lines of text, it must be enclosed in quotation marks. If it is longer, it should be entered as a separate, indented paragraph. References must be given for both short and long quotations.
  • Short quotation (from a website): “came to a permanent standstill” (Pompeionline, 2012)
  • Long quotation (from an old text) with reference:  

The table piled not with shellfish or fish, but with huge joints of tainted meat; slatternly slaves do the waiting, some even old men; cook and hall-porter are one; neither breadmaker nor wine-cellar on the premises; the bread from a bakehouse, the wine from a tavern. (Cicero, Against Piso, ch. 67) 


If you are using sources written in different language then the one you a writing in, you have to remember the following: If you are directly translating the source, you have to mark this as a quotation, and then inform the reader that this is a translation. You have to refer the source. If you are paraphrasing the content, you have to refer to the source. Source references must be included in the list of references. 

List of references

  • A list of references (otherwise referred to as a bibliography) must be included at the end of your assignment. Each reference states the name of the author, year of publication, the title of the work, place of publication and date of retrieval (for webpages).

An example of how you should use references, paraphrases, quotations and the list of references can be found below. 

Text example

Tor Ivar Østmoe: Pompeii as a source of Roman daily life

Pompeii is the name of the small Roman town that was buried in dust and ashes by an eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 CE, and thus “came to a permanent standstill” (Pompeionline, 2012). Systematic excavations began in 1748 (Berry, 2007, p. 40), and since then the town has been a source of knowledge, not least about the daily life of people in a small Roman settlement. 

       It is a well-established fact that Roman society was marked by class differences, and this is confirmed in Pompeii. More than 2500 examples of election posters have been found. Certain names recur, and this indicates that the town’s political life was dominated by a handful of families. Another notable feature is that the slogans accompanying the names are of the type “he is a good man” (Beard, 2009, pp. 188–195). When seeking political office in Pompeii, political programme was hence less important than family background and reputation.

        People differed in rank in other ways as well: in Pompeii, only large houses were constructed with a kitchen of their own, and there are numerous murals showing banqueting scenes (Beard, 2009, p. 94, p. 218). This indicates that being able to prepare and eat meals at home was a sign of prosperity, while having to eat in taverns and inns was the usual practice for many, a finding which is supported by ancient texts. One example is an invective (a diatribe) by the Roman orator Cicero, in which he points out that his rival Piso is not living in accordance with his social station:

the table piled not with shellfish or fish, but with huge joints of tainted meat; slatternly slaves do the waiting, some even old men; cook and hall-porter are one; neither breadmaker nor wine-cellar on the premises; the bread from a bakehouse, the wine from a tavern. (Cicero, Against Piso, ch. 67) 

But the findings in Pompeii also give rise to other questions. How was the traffic in a small Roman town organized? The streets were narrow, but supplies of commodities would nevertheless have had to be brought in. Unfortunately, no street or road signs have been preserved. On the other hand, the kerbstones on certain corners appear to have been worn into specific patterns. This has been taken as evidence that these were one-way streets, and that the direction of travel had been established by custom, rather than by signage (Beard, 2009, pp. 89–90).

Two-thirds of Pompeii has now been excavated (Berry, 2007, p. 41). The town is open to visitors and constitutes an essential source of knowledge about daily life in Roman times.

List of references 

Beard, M. (2009). The Life of a Roman Town. London: Profile Books. (First issued in 2008 with the title The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found.) 

Berry, J. (2007). The Complete Pompeii. London: Thames & Hudson. 
Cicero (1931). The Speeches. With an English translation by N. H. Watts, B.A. London: William Heinemann Ltd.  

Pompeionline (2012). Pompeii. Retrieved 7 April 2015 from

If you are in doubt or want further information

Visit the website Search and write, which provides a full introduction to referencing and reference styles. Remember to enter references in a consistent manner throughout your essay. (The examples in this introduction use the reference style APA 6th).

Published Apr. 2, 2020 5:02 PM - Last modified Apr. 27, 2022 6:04 PM