How to Reference a Case Study in Four Styles

how to reference a case study

How to Reference a Case Study – For any serious academic undertaking, case studies are not just recommended, they’re required. It’s important to include references in your work to avoid plagiarism and inform readers of your findings. At the same time, you should also reference your sources properly so that others will be able to follow your research trail and easily find and verify the information you used.

In this ultimate guide on how to reference a case study, we’ll clear that up once and for all and make sure you never run into any problems ever again when it comes to referencing case studies in your own writing.

What Does Case Study Mean?

A case study is an in-depth research project that investigates a real-life phenomenon within its natural context. When writing a case study, you will need to include background information on the subject and any relevant theories and previous research.

In addition, your paper should present the results of your own investigation into the matter at hand. When referencing a case study, you must provide both in-text citations and a complete reference list at the end of your paper.

Do you need to Reference in a Case Study?

Before we dive into how to reference a case study, let’s answer the question: do you need to reference a case study? In short, the answer is yes. Any time you use someone else’s work in your own writing, you need to give them credit. This includes when you’re using a case study. Referencing shows that you’ve done your research and helps add credibility to your writing. Plus, it helps prevent plagiarism.

How do you Cite an Unpublished Case Study?

You’ve been shown how to cite a case study, but how do you cite an unpublished case study?

The references list citation for an unpublished case study found in a legal database is as follow: Author(s) (Year). Title of manuscript. [Unpublished manuscript] or [Manuscript in preparation] or [Manuscript submitted for publication].

How to Reference a Case Study – Types of Referencing

Even though there are various types of referencing styles, only four of them are widely used. They are: Harvard System; MLA (Modern Languages Association) System; APA (American Psychological Association) System; and the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) System. These are the most common styles of referencing and each style has its own set of rules for how to format references.

  • Harvard System

Harvard referencing is a parenthetical author-date style, meaning that you use the author’s surname and the date of publication in your in-text citations. In your reference list, you also include full publication details of the sources you have cited. This style is widely used in academia.

Havard reference style example:

Author Surname, Initials. (Publication Year) Title of the text in italics. Place of Publication: Publisher.

John, D. (2005) Novelists and novels. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.

  • MLA (Modern Languages Association) System

MLA referencing style is a parenthetical system and one of the most commonly used academic citation styles. It is mainly used in humanities and liberal arts disciplines. To reference a case study using MLA style, you need to include the following information: the author(s) name in full, the book’s title, the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication.

MLA referencing style example:

John, Jane. New Relations: The Refashioning of British Poetry 1980-1994. Bridgend: Seren, 1996.

  • APA (American Psychological Association) System

APA referencing style is a parenthetical author-date system, with in-text citations and a reference list. In APA style, sources are acknowledged with parenthetical author-date citations in the text of your paper. For every in-text citation, there must be a corresponding entry in your reference list.

Author names are inverted (surname first and initials second), and the APA referencing style is as follows:

Author(s) surname, initial(s). Publication date. Source title. Publisher(s) location: publisher. Retrieved URL.

  • MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) System

MHRA referencing style is a system for crediting sources used in academic writing. It’s usually used in the humanities, especially when writing about literature, history, and art. In MHRA style, citations appear in footnotes or endnotes marked by superscripts, and there’s a bibliography at the end of the document.

The MHRA reference style example:

x. Author name, ‘Article Title’, Journal Name, volume number (Year), page range (page number).

¹ David Kennedy, New Relations: The Refashioning of British Poetry 1980-1994. (Bridgend: Seren, 1996), p.26.


Now that you know how to reference a case study, you’re well on your way to acing your next assignment or project. Just remember to be consistent with the format you choose, and always include all the relevant information. If you have any questions, feel free to ask your professor or librarian for help. With a little practice, referencing will become second nature.


  • – What Does Case Study Mean?
  • – Types of Referencing

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