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OSCOLA Referencing Guide

OSCOLA is the abbreviated name for Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities. It’s the style many students use for referencing authorities, legislation and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers both in the UK and abroad.

If you are looking for our OSCOLA Reference Generator then click on the button below:

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OSCOLA Referencing Overview

OSCOLA Referencing can be done using the two-type discussed below:

  1. Footnotes
    - This is used to show the authority of the preceding idea. Once you click on insert footnote, a subscript number will appear and the same will appear at the bottom of the page.
  2. Bibliographies
    - This appears at the bottom of your essay with full detail of the work cited within the body of your essay. At the end of the guide, there is a full explanation of bibliography.

General guidelines

Oscola uses some guidelines that must be followed for consistency. The types of sources are cited in different formats. The following general rules should be followed before giving examples.

  • The footnote should appear after the relevant punctuation in the text, unless for clarity it is necessary to put it directly following the word or phrase
  • If the cited phrase/idea is inside brackets, the footnote should be before the closing bracket
  • Punctuation in citations are minimal, for example, UKHL rather than U.K.H.L.
  • Footnotes should be closed with a full stop
  • Titles of books and case names are to be italicised
  • Semi-colons may be used to separate a reference to two different sources in a footnote
  • Quotations longer than three lines should be presented within an indented paragraph with no quotation marks

Repeating references and cross-references

When you want to repeat an already referenced reference, you will be needed to provide a cross-citation in bracketing leading the reader to the corresponding footnote. The example below shows that, the citation was used in the 5th footnote. Hence, therefore, the subsequent citation directs the user to the footnote.

Initial citation: Sam Victor, Understanding Project Management. (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Subsequent citation: Victor (n 5)

If the subsequent citation is directly following the previous citation, you may use ibid.

Initial citation: Sam Victor, Understanding Project Management. (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Directly following, subsequent citation: ibid.

You can insert a page number following the cross-reference or ibid to cite a different page of the same authority.

Footnotes example

In the text:

Leadership and management are two core principles that must be effectively executed to ensure success of businesses in the 21st Century.23

In the footnote:

23 John V.E. Leadership and management for small businesses' (2015) Am. J. Crim. L. 17,211

Bibliography guidelines and examples

The bibliography should be split into three main sections:

  • Table of legislation
  • Table of cases
  • Bibliography of secondary sources

Table of legislation

The table of legislation includes items such as treaties, conventions, legislation and all the cited statutory instruments. These should be done alphabetically by the first significant word of the title. There should be a clear separation of legislation by jurisdiction.

Table of cases

This should include all the cases cited in your work. These should be listed in alphabetical order of the first significant word. Additionally, choose to separate the cases by jurisdiction.


These include all the secondary sources cited and they should be arranged alphabetically. All the references in the bibliography list should be identical with footnotes with minor changes on the author’s format.

The referencing in the bibliography for all sources will be identical to the referencing in the footnotes, aside from one minor difference in the formatting of the authors name.

Footnotes: First name, surname – Sam Victor

Bibliography: Second name, first name initial – Victor, S.

OSCOLA Reference Examples

The guidelines below give direction on how citation for footnotes should be done, therefore it is important to make the necessary changes on the authors name in the bibliography.

Primary sources

UK Cases: As authority

In this case scenario, it is important to use the full name of the case alongside its neutral citation. Ensure that case name is in Italic in both footnotes and in-text. This, however, should not be the case in the bibliography.

Government v Public [2013] 2 QB 691

NYPD v People [2014] 1 WLR 1204

If you have actually said the full name of the case in the text, only the subsequent information is required in the footnote. In the examples illustrated above, the footnotes will be as follows:

[2013] 2 QB 691

[2014] 1 WLR 1204

Just in case you want to reference a particular paragraph of the judgment, , a pinpoint reference to the relevant part in the judgment should follow the citation.

NYPD v People [2014] 1 WLR 1204 [2]-[34]

The years of cases could be in either round or square brackets according to the style of the law or the report use that correspond to the required style.

UK Legislation

This should be cited using its short title and year.

Short title | Year

Relief food Act 1980

Environmental Pollution Act 1989

In case you want to reference a particular section of the legislation, them the format above should be followed.

Relief food Act 1980, s 4

Environmental Pollution Act 1989, schedule 3

UK Statutory Instruments

Statutory instruments require the name, year and the SI number.

Name | year | SI number

The Change of Presidential Guard Order 2012, SI 2012/24

Education (Recognized Bodies) Order 2001, SI 2001/3

EU Cases

Case number | case name |[year]| report abbreviation | first page

Case 23/70Van Gen den Loos v Nederlandse Administratie Der Belastingen [1960] ECR 1

Case 6/64 Costa v ENEL [1964] ECR 585

EU Legislation

Treaties and protocols

<Legislation Title> | [year] | <OJ series> | <issue/first page

Consolidated procedures for EU Exit [2013] OJ C115/13

Directives, regulations, decisions, recommendations and opinions

<Legislation type> | number | title | [year] | OJ L issue/first page

Municipal Directive 2001/80/EC of 25 October 2000 establish a standard employment and pension scheme

European Court of Human Rights cases

You may cite the official reports, or the reports of judgments and decisions. Just ensure to be consistent with your approach.

Ireland v UK App No 5310/71 (ECtHR, 25 January 1976)

Cases and legislation from other jurisdictions

These should be cited as they are cited in their own jurisdiction.

Martin v Spectre 2 US 401 (1791

Michelle Adams v The King [2014] NCZA 645

Secondary sources

Books with one author

Author, | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

John Stevenson, The Treaty, (4th edition, Harvard University press, 2014)

How to cite books with two authors

Author 1 and Author 2, | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

Martin Sexton and Julie Bogusz, The law of tort, (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Books with three authors

Author 1, Author 2 and Author 3 | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

Steve Adree, Dick Wu, and Christ Zee, Company law (20th edition, McGraw Hill 2013)

Books with four or more authors

Author 1 and others, | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

Henry Cook and others, Business Ethics (6th edition, Blackwell, 2010)


Samuel Dean, Business management: [2017] 9 JBM LR 597

David Keen, 'Corporate Leadership [2015] 30(7) entrepreneurship management 81

Hansard - House of Commons debates

HC Deb | date, | volume, | column

HC Deb 5 July 2014, vol 280, col 300

Hansard - House of Lords debates

HL Deb | date, | volume, | column

HL Deb 23 February 2011, Vol 48, Col 220

Public Bill committees

Title of bill followed by Deb | date, | column

Health Bill Deb 21 JULY 2000, cols 90

Websites and blogs

If the website or Blog doesn’t have an author, start the citation with the title. And if the date of publication is not provided, insert the date you accessed.

Author | 'title' | (Website, date) | <Website URL> | accessed <date>

-Johnson Lee, 'successful marriage’ (Johnson Lee, September 1, 2017) http://www. / accessed 3 Sep 2017

Printed newspaper article

Author, | 'title' | newspaper | (City of publication, date of publication) | page number

-Smoking Davis, 'Las Vegas shootout victims’' The Telegram (London, 4 September 2010) 22

Online newspaper article

Author, | 'title' | newspaper | (City of publication, date of publication) | <Website URL>

- Eunice Jakes, “Las Vegas suspect had more than 40 firearms in hotel and home ” The Guardian (London, 3 October 2017)

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