An Overview of OSCOLA Referencing Style

When you use various sources of information in your assignment or dissertation, you are expected to acknowledge the consulted journal articles, books, e-books, etc. This can be done by referring the source within the text, footnotes, and mentioning the complete details in an alphabetical order at the end of the work. When the reference is briefly given in the text, it is called citation, on the other hand a list of every consulted item attached in the last is known as bibliography.

Importance of Referencing

One of the most vital parts of any academic writing is referencing. In fact, whether you have followed the correct citation guidelines or not can have a great influence on your grades and scorecard. Some other reasons are as follows:

*It avoids plagiarism-practice of using someone else’s work, ideas, and then passing it as your own. Every college/university treats this very as a punishable activity.
*It also provide readers with the details to locate the original write-up that you have used in your document.
*Readers can check the authenticity and correctness of your sources.
*It demonstrates that you have read a number of materials and done an incredible research.


It is abbreviated for Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities. OSCOLA is most commonly used for both primary and secondary legal materials. It was originally developed for Oxford University, but now various schools in the UK and overseas, legal journals, publishers follow this citation style. When you write something for audience, be it professional or academic, you need to mention evidence for your claims. Legal sources include cases, legislation, reports, under primary materials whereas secondary sources contain books, websites, journal articles, policy statements, etc.

Basically, there are two types of citation styles in OSCOLA Referencing:

Footnote: It indicates the original source of the preceding idea or text. A superscript number is mentioned in-text which corresponds to the relevant authority stated at the bottom of the page.

Bibliography: It is located at the end of your work in an alphabetical order.

General Rules and Guidelines

There is a consistent and uniform manner for each authority under the OSCOLA citation style. Every category of source has a different format for referencing. Before starting with examples for each of them, let’s take a look at the general rules:

1.The footnote should come after the relevant punctuation in the text. For clarity, it is put directly following the phrase or word.
2. In case, idea/phrase is inside the bracket, footnote should also be mentioned in the same bracket.
3.There should be minimal use of punctuation in citation, for example, use UKHL instead of U.K.H.L.
4.Close footnotes with a full stop.
5.Italicize the names of the book and cases.
6.To separate two different sources, you should use semi-colons.
7.If a quotation is longer than three lines, then it is presented in an indented paragraph without quotation marks.

Cross References

Cross citing is when you mention the same authority which has already been mentioned in earlier chapter or page. You need to identify the sources and give a cross reference in brackets to direct the reader to the corresponding footnote. In the following example, the citation directs the reader to the 4th footnote. Have a look:

Initial citation: John Roberts, Understanding the Law. (Oxford University Press 1990)

Subsequent citation: Roberts (n 4)

If the subsequent citation is directly after the previous citation, ibid is used.

Initial citation: John Roberts, Understanding the Law. (Oxford University Press 1990)

Directly following, subsequent citation: ibid.

Primary Legal Sources

  • Cases

While citing cases in footnotes, you need to mention the name of the case; followed by the neutral citation (if appropriate); volume number and first page of the relevant law report; and, where necessary, the court. If the name of the case is already given in the main text, you don’t have to repeat the same in the footnote too.

  • Boulting (n 32) 638. OR 33 Ibid 638.
  • Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884
  • Page v Smith [1996] AC 155 (HL)
Statutes and statutory instruments

In this case, cite the short title and year for an Act. Also, capitalize all the major words without a comma. Follow the order-
Name, years, SI number.


Act of Supremacy 1558

Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b)


For legislation, if information is provided in the text itself, then there is no need to cite it in a footnote.

Secondary Legal Sources

Books with one authors


Author, | Title | (additional information, | edition, | publisher | year).


Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (OUP 2009).

Gareth Jones, Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (1st supp, 7th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2009).

Books with two authors


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


Roger Sexton and Barbara Bogusz, Land Law, (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Books with more than two authors


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


Harry Root and others, Management and Ethics (5th edition, Blackwells, 2002)



Author, | ‘Title’ | [year] | ‘journal name or abbreviation’ | first page of article. (or),

Author, | ‘Title’ | (year) | volume | ‘journal name or abbreviation’ | first page of article.


Alison L Young, ‘In Defence of Due Deference’ (2009) 72 MLR

Ian Dawson, 'Corporate rescue by the upright rescuer – a trap for the unwary' [2016] 29(6) Insolvency Intelligence 81

Online Journals

It follows the same guidelines as the articles in hard copy journals. But, there are some of the elements that are missing in online journals like page numbers. Don’t forget to specify the web address and the last date you accessed the article.


Graham Greenleaf, ‘The Global Development of Free Access to Legal Information’ (2010)1 (1) EJLT> accessed 27 March 2018

Websites and blogs

If there is no author, then begin the citation with the title. Also, when date of publication is not mentioned, give the date you last visited it.


Author | 'Title' | (Website, date) | | accessed


Marilyn Stowe, 'Divorce petitions: then and now' (Marilyn Stowe, August 1 2016) accessed 3 August 2016

Printed newspaper article


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


Robert Simmons, 'Protests held in Australia over the abuse of animals in Zoos' The Guardian (London, 4 November 2011) 22

Online newspaper article


Author, | 'Title' | newspaper | (City of publication, date of publication) |


Sarah Boseley, 'PrEP HIV drugs: fight for limited NHS funds takes unedifying turn' The Guardian (London, 3 August 2016) <>


If you have conducted the cited interview yourself, then specify the name, position, and relevant institution of the interviewee, along with the location and date of the interview. But, if the interview was conducted by another person, then the name of the interviewer should appear at the starting of the citation.


Interview with Irene Kull, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Law, Tartu University (Tartu, Estonia, 4 August 2003).

Timothy Endicott and John Gardner, Interview with Tony Honoré, Emeritus Regius Professor of Civil Law, University of Oxford (Oxford, 17 July 2007).

It demonstrates that you have read a number of materials and done an incredible research.

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