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OSCOLA Citation Guide

OSCOLA Citation Guide

Also known as Oxford referencing, OSCOLA is a citation style that is common in the UK. This style is used in academic works on law when citing statutes and cases, as well as journals and books.

OSCOLA style requires two types of citations:

  • Footnotes
    They indicate the source of the preceding idea. A citation is followed by a superscript number that corresponds to the footnote at the end of the page.
  • Bibliographies
    It’s a separate section of the document that includes a list of all used sources.

Main Guidelines

Every authority must be cited in a clear and consistent manner. Citations for different sources are written according to different rules. However, there are some general rules that apply to all types of citations:

  • If a cited idea or quote is inside brackets, a footnote must be before the closing bracket.
  • Footnotes always follow the necessary punctuation marks.
  • To separate two different sources, you should use semicolons.
  • Footnotes end with a full stop.
  • You should use minimal punctuation if possible (for example, UK instead of U.K.)
  • Names of cases and books are written in italics.
  • Long quotations (more than three lines) are written as an intended paragraph without quotation marks.

Cross-References and Repetition

If you have already mentioned a certain authority, you can identify the source briefly, writing a cross-citation in brackets. This citation should contain only the number of the corresponding footnote:

Original citation: Smith John, The Importance of the Law. (Oxford University Press 1997)

Cross-citation: Smith (n 5)

If a new citation follows the initial citation, you can use ‘ibid.’ You can also include the page number after ‘ibid’ or a cross-reference.

Bibliography Guidelines

The bibliography section should include three parts:

  • Table of legislation
    It includes statutory instruments, treaties, and conventions. They are listed alphabetically, depending on the first significant word.
  • Table of cases
    It includes all cases mentioned in the paper. They are also listed alphabetically.
  • Bibliography
    This part includes all secondary sources. The format is almost the same as in footnotes, but you need to write the last name and the first initial instead of the full name.

Examples of UK Cases

Citing cases, you should include their neutral citations along with the full names. Cases are written in italics everywhere except the bibliography.

Smith v Brown [1970] 1 QB 761

McDonald v Simpson [1963] 2 WLR 1024

Referring to a particular paragraph, its number must follow the citation.

Smith v Brown [1970] 1 QB 761 [1]-[25]

You may need to use either round or square brackets for the year, depending on the type of the report.

UK Legislation Examples

Legislations are cited using their short titles and years.

Sale of Products Act 1956

Environmental Control Act 1970

If you need to cite a particular section of the legislation, include its number after a comma.

Sale of Products Act 1956, s 4

Environmental Control Act 1970, schedule 3

Examples of UK Statutory Instruments

Citations of statutory instruments should include the SI number, the year, and the name.

The Time Off for Public Duties Order 2018, SI 2018/665

The Education (Designated Institutions) Order 2018, SI 2018/654

Examples of EU Cases

Case 13/56 Smith v European Airlines [1972] ECR2

Case 5/34 Brown v IPM [1984] ECR 858

Examples of EU Legislation

Protocols and treaties:

Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union [2010] OJ C125/13

Recommendations, directives, opinions, decisions, and regulations:

Council Directive 2011/34/EC of 12 April 2011

European Court of Human Rights cases:

UK v Ireland App No 3467/83 (ECtHR, 12 December 1973)

Legislation and cases from other jurisdictions:

John Brown v The Queen [2014] NZCA 549

Secondary Sources

Books with one author:

Stan Smith, A History of Justice, (2nd edition, Law Publications, 2011)

Books with three authors:

Belcher, Bob, Smith, Stan and Griffin, Peter, Living in a small town (3rd edition, Good Publications, 2015)

Books with more than three authors:

Bob Belcher and others, Living in a small town (3rd edition, Good Publications, 2015)


Bob Belcher, ‘New horizons of civil rights’ [2013] 12(7) Intelligent Journal 71

House of Commons debates:

HC Deb 5 September 2002, vol 270, col 357

House of Lords debates:

HL Deb 5 September 2002, vol 270, col 357

Public Bill committees:

Health Bill Deb 13 April 2001, cols 87

Citing websites and blogs, start with the author’s name. If there is no author, start your citation with the title:

John Brown, ‘Petitions: Benefits and Problems’ (John Brown, August 3 2010) accessed 4 April 2016

‘Petitions: Benefits and Problems’ (John Brown, August 3 2010) accessed 4 April 2016

Printed newspaper articles:

– Stan Smith, ‘Protests over the civil rights violation’ The Guardian (London, 3 May 2012) 27

Online newspaper articles:

– John Brown, ‘Protests over the civil rights violation’ The Guardian (London, 3 May 2012) <>

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