I've been scouting various websites, including stackexchange looking for an easy solution to make natbib work within my tex file so to use the harvard referencing system. I've only managed to get one reference working, the rest have made a bit of a mess of my document.

I am looking to have the format (Author last name, year) and my bib file (bibfile.bib) is as shown below (given a few examples at least):

 @comment{ Aardvark, T. (2012) China Bans It's Airlines From Taking Part In EU 
       Emissions Trading Scheme. [online] Available at: 
       [Accessed: 10 Mar 2013].  }
 author = "Aardvark, T.",
 title = "China Bans It's Airlines From Taking Part In {EU} Emissions Trading Scheme",
 publisher = "[online] {Available} at: http://toryaardvark.com/2012/02/06/china-        bans-its-airlines-from-taking-part-in-eu-emissions-trading-scheme/         [{Accessed}: 10",
 month = mar,
 year = 2013"
 @comment{ Aef.org.uk (1990) Aviation Environment Federation » Short haul 
           flights should be “progressively replaced” by rail, says 
           transport minister. [online] Available at: 
           http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=803 [Accessed: 10 Mar 2013].  }
 author = "Aef",
 title = "org",
 journal = "uk",
 volume = "10",
 month = mar,
 year = 2013, 
 url = "http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=803"

My document itself has :

AEF have been doing so and so \citep{aef2013org} etc.

Please help! The constant searching through endless websites is driving me crazy and I have a two reports due in this week!

  • By "Harvard referencing system", I assume you mean author-year style. I recommend (i) loading the natbib package with the option round instead of numbers (as the latter institutes a numeric citation style) and (ii) fixing various (generally minor) mistakes in your .bib file. E.g., change the entry type of aardvark2013china from @book to something more suitable, e.g., @misc, change the publisher item to url, and omit stuff such as "[online] {Available} at: " entirely. Be sure to rerun LaTeX, BibTeX, and LaTeX twice more to fully update everything.
    – Mico
    Commented Mar 17, 2013 at 19:42
  • Thanks for the comment. I've tried various things but I'd like to keep the [online] and 'Accessed' date stuff in the complete reference at the end if possible..
    – user18056
    Commented Mar 17, 2013 at 19:50
  • @user18056 i am sure TeXmaker nothing to do with natbib as it is just an TeX editor. see andy-roberts bibliography for using natbib. check also any wrong/missing syntax of " , unbalanced characters in wrong locations in .bib. see harvard-style tags. Edit your question to include the errors.log and clean minimal working example along with desired output in image. The better you present the better it will help you to resolve. Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 7:45
  • @user18056 change the tags based on your usage bibtex or biblatex Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 7:53
  • I'm having trouble understanding what it is you're trying to do (or what it is about the current output that you don't like). If you're new to natbib (or even to bibtex) yet, I highly recommend you use biblatex. It has a variety of built-in styles (including author-year), it is extremely user-friendly, particulary when it comes to make custom changes to a given style, and its fan base is a lot larger than natbib's, which will help you significantly if you need assistance.
    – Nils L
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 8:00

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if you consider this an appropriate answer, as your question is »how do I make natbib work«, and my answer involves abandoning it for something more contemporary (there haven't been any updates to natbib whatsoever for a few years). But then again, your ultimate aim is »using the harvard referencing system« -- and this is something quite easily done with biblatex, out of the box. So what I'm suggesting is a slightly different tool for that purpose...

Consider the following example and its output. Note I've used the more suitable @online field rather than @book.


 author = {Aardvark, T.},
 title = {China Bans It's Airlines From Taking Part In {EU} Emissions Trading Scheme},
 year = {2013}, 
 url = {http://toryaardvark.com/2012/02/06/china-bans-etc/},
 urldate = {2013-03-10}
 author = {AEF},
 title = {Some Title},
 journal = {Some Journal},
 volume = {10},
 number = {3},
 year = {2013}, 
 url = {http://www.aef.org.uk/?p=803}


AEF have been doing so and so \parencite{aef2013org}. But \textcite{aardvark2013china} have been etc.

enter image description here

So, my suggestion is: let's work from there; let us know if that looks like something you're roughly comfortable with, and what details you want changed. If, for example, you prefer »available at« to »URL«, or »accessed« to »visited«, if you want every online article to be marked with an »[online]« in addition to the URL, if you want purple journal titles instead of italic ones -- all of this is really simple in biblatex, plus, as mentioned earlier, it's going to be a lot easier to get help if you need it.

  • For what it's worth, you've an excess apostrophe in "It's" -- should be "Its". Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 10:10
  • 3
    yes, I noticed that. I briefly considered contacting Tory Aardvark -- »Conservatve Political Blogger, Climate Realist, Tea Party supporter and NRA member. I dont buy into the Man Made Global Warming Scam, science is never settled« -- about this, but then decided to do something useful and work on some tag wikis at TeX.SE instead :)
    – Nils L
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 10:14

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