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About Oscola Referencing Style

Referencing is the process of adding citations of the sources you’ve used to collect information for drafting any document. These are usually the practices of scholars who conduct in-depth research to study any particular topic. Out of a few commonly used referencing styles, OSCOLA is in the top 3.

OSCOLA, the acronym of Oxford Stand for Citation of Legal Authorities, is created for law referencing by Oxford University. This is a referencing style, where the citations are placed in the footnotes and explained in bibliographies. Let’s now take a look at both of them in the below section.

What Are the 2 Types of Citation in OSCOLA Referencing Style?

1. Footnotes

Footnotes are the notes that are placed at the bottom of a page. These include comments, citations, notes, and so on regarding the content on that particular page.

2. Bibliography

The bibliography is the page attached at the end of the whole document that includes the sources that are used as a reference to draft that document.

These are the 2 main types of citations that are used in the OSCOLA referencing style. Let us now look into the principles one must follow for using this style.

What Are Some Principles of Using the OSCOLA Referencing Style?

Here are a few principles that you should follow while citing the sources using OSCOLA referencing style:

1. Quotations

  1. Quotations of three or fewer lines only are incorporated in the text.
  2. Use ‘single quotation marks’ for all purposes.
  3. When submitting work for a Turnitin, use “double quotation marks.”

2. Footnotes

  1. Use the footnote mark at the end of the sentence.
  2. You can also use the same mark after the word or phrase.
  3. The superscript number is to be placed after a full stop or comma.
  4. Separate more than one citation using a semi-colon in the footnotes.

3. Author’s Names

  1. Include the author’s name as it is in the publication.
  2. Omit any postnominals such as QC from the citations.
  3. Include the name of the first author, followed by ‘and others’ if there are more than three authors.
  4. If no author is identified, but an organization or institution takes the editorial responsibility, then cite it as the author.
  5. If there is none to take the editorial responsibilities, then start the citation with the title.
  6. Use the surname before the author’s first name or initial in the footnotes.
  7. If using a bibliophile, then use the surname first, followed by the initial(s) and a comma.

4. Titles

  1. Capitalize the first letter of all major words in a title.
  2. Italicize titles of books, publications with ISBN, and similar ones.
  3. Capitalize the rest but do not italicize any of them.
  4. Do not capitalize words like- ‘for, and, they, or, the’ unless they are at the starting of the title.

5. Pinpoints

  1. Pinpoints to elements such as parts, chapters, pages, paragraphs at the end of the citation.
  2. Pinpoint paragraphs using square brackets for cases.
  3. Separate paragraph numbers in square brackets for more than one.
  4. Insert a dash between the square brackets for citing spans.
  5. If it isn’t for cases, then use- ‘pt’ for the part; ‘ch’ for the chapter, and ‘para’ for a paragraph.
  6. For page numbers, use- p or pp.
  7. To include page number after chapter or part, use a comma before the page number.
  8. To use an unspecified page number after an initial page, use the initial page number followed by ff.

6. Electronic Sources

This is for instances when it is not about cases and legislation:

  1. If the online publication also has a hardcopy, then cite the offline source.
  2. It isn’t mandatory to cite electronic sources for the ones with a hard copy.
  3. If the sources are available only electronically, then they should end with a web address in angled brackets.
  4. The online citation should be followed by the recent access date in the format of- “accessed 1 January 2010.”
  5. Include http:// if the web address doesn’t start with ‘www.’

7. Dates

  1. Use ‘1 January 2015’ whenever a full date is to be included in the citations.
  2. It isn’t mandatory to include ‘st’ or ‘th’ after the day.
  3. If it spans more than one year of the same century, then it should be cited as: ‘1970-1980.’

8. Subsequent Citations

  1. If the citation is the same as the previous one, then include ‘ibid’ in the footnote.
  2. If the citation is the same as others, use a shortened form.
  3. It should be followed by a reference to footnote and by differing pinpoints.

These are some principles that every student should follow while using OSCOLA referencing style to cite their sources.

How to Cite Sources Using the OSCOLA Referencing Style?

Here are the OSCOLA referencing style formats for various sources with examples:

1. Cases

a. Cases with neutral citations

Case name | [year] | court | number, | [year] OR (year) | volume | report abbreviation | first page

Example: Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884

b. Cases without neutral citations

Case name | [year] OR (year) | volume | report abbreviation | first page | (court)

Example: Barrett v Enfield LBC [2001] 2 AC 550 (HL)

c. Cases where judgement with neutral citations has not been reported

Example: Re Guardian News and Media Ltd [2010] UKSC 1

2. Preliminary Acts

a. Cite an Act

Example: Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995

b. Add jurisdiction

Example: Water Resources Act 1991 (UK)

3. Preliminary Bills

a. Title | HC Bill | (session) | [number]

Example: Consolidated Fund HC Bill (2008-09) [5]


b. Title | HC Bill | (session) | number

Example: Academies HL Bill (2010-11) 1, cl 8(2)

4. Legislation

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

Example: Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union [2008] OJ C115/13

5. Regulations and Directives

Legislation Type | Number | Title | [year] | OJ L issue/first page

Example: Council Regulation (EC) 1984/2003 of 8 April 2003 introducing a system for the statistical monitoring of trade in Bluefin tuna, swordfish, and bigeye tuna within the Community [2003] OJ L295/1

6. Judgments of the European Court of Justice and General Court

Case Number | Case Name | [year] | Report Abbreviation | First Page

Example: Case 240/83 Procureur de la Republique v ADBHU [1985] ECR 531

7. Decisions of the European Commission

Case Name | (Case Number) | Commission Decision Number | [Year] | OJ L Issue/First Page

Example: Alcatel/Telettra (Case IV/M.042) Commission Decision 91/251/EEC [1991] OJ L122/48

8. Books

a. General Format

Author | Title | (Additional Information, | Edition, | Publisher |Year)

Example: Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (OUP 2009)

b. Books with Two Authors

Author 1 and Author 2, | Title| (Edition, | Publisher, | Year)

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

c. Books with Three Authors

Author 1, Author 2 and Author 3 | Title | (Edition, | Publisher, | Year)

Example: Stephen Mayson, Derek French and Christopher Ryan, Mayson, French & Ryan on Company Law (18th edition, Blackstone 2001)

d. Books with Four or More Authors

Author 1 and others, | Title | (Edition, | Publisher, | Year)

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

e. Citing information from a specific page

Author | Title | (Additional Information, | Edition, | Publisher | Year) Page Number

Example: Gary Slapper and David Kelly, The English Legal System (Routledge 2016) 17

f. If the book has more than one volume

Author | Title | (Additional Information, | Edition, | Publisher | Year) Page Number

Example: Andrew Burrows, Remedies for Torts and Breach of Contract (3rd edn, OUP 2004) 317

g. If the publication details of volume vary

Author | Title, Edition| (Additional Information, | Publisher | Year) Page Number

Example: Christian von Bar, The Common European Law of Torts, vol 2(CH Beck 2000) para 76

h. Contributions to edited books

Author | ‘Title’ | in Edition (ed), | Book Title | (Additional Information, | Publisher | Year)

Example: John Cartwright, ‘The Fiction of the “Reasonable Man”’ in AG Castermans and others (eds), Ex Libris Hans Nieuwenhuis (Kluwer 2009)

9. Encyclopedias

a. Offline Encyclopedia

Example: Halsbury’s Laws (5th edn, 2010) vol 57, para 53

b. Online Encyclopedia

Example: Leslie Green, ‘Legal Positivism,’ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall edn, 2009) http://... Accessed 20 November 2009

10. Articles

a. General Format

Author | ‘Title’| (Year) | Volume | Journal Name or Abbreviation | First page of the article


b. If only one volume was published in that year

Author | ‘Title’| [Year] | Journal Name or Abbreviation | First page of the article

Example: JAG Griffith, ‘The Common Law and the Political Constitution’ (2001) 117 LQR 42, 64

11. Online Articles

Author | ‘Title’| [Year] OR (Year)| Volume/issue | Journal Name or Abbreviation | | Date accessed

Example: Graham Greenleaf, ‘The Global Development of Free Access to Legal Information’ (2010) 1(1) EJLT http://ejlt... Accessed 27 July 2010

12. Case Notes

Example: Andrew Ashworth, ‘R (Singh) v Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police’ [2006] Crim LR 441 (note)

13. Hansard

HL Deb OR HC Deb | date, | volume, | column

Example: HC Deb 3 February 1977, vol 389, cols 973-76

14. Command Papers

Example: Home Office, Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (Cmd 8932, 1953) para 53

15. Websites and Blogs

Example: Sarah Cole, ‘Virtual Friend Fires Employee’ (Naked law, 1 May 2009) <www…> accessed 19 November 2009

16. Newspaper Articles

Author, | ‘Title’ | Name of the newspaper | (city of publication, | date) | page if known

Example: Jane Croft, ‘Supreme Court Warns on Quality’ Financial Times (London, 1 July 2010) 3

17. Interviews (If not yourself)

Interview with name, position, the institution of interviewee | (location, date of interview)

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

18. Personal Communications

Example: Letter from Gordon Brown to Lady Ashton (20 November 2009)

These are the major formats using which a student can cite the sources he has referred to for drafting their documents. Scholars use this style to ensure they cite the sources in the most appropriate way.

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