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OSCOLA Referencing Overview

OSCOLA referencing style

OSCOLA invites you to follow two “golden rules” when citing legal authorities. The first is consistency and the second is a consideration for the reader. Legal writing is considered more persuasive when you refer to legal matters in a clear, consistent and familiar way. An integral part of this is having an easy way of identifying your sources. OSCOLA does not use endnotes or in-text citations, instead, all citations appear as footnotes. Lengthy works such as already published books and theses also include citations in tables of cases and legislation, as well as bibliographies.

Citations required in OSCOLA Referencing:

There are two types to do the same, read further and know more:


-These are used to indicate the authority for the preceding text or idea. Also, there will be a superscript number in-text which corresponds to the relevant authority at the bottom of the page.


-These are located at the end of the work and are categorized properly depicting all sources used in work.

What Are the General Guidelines That a Student Has to Follow?

Under the OSCOLA guidelines, each authority should be cited in a consistent, uniform manner. The different categories of sources are cited in different formats. Before examples are given, some general rules should be mentioned:

  • 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 the 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 italicized.
  • Semi-colons must be used to separate different sources in a footnote.
  • Quotations longer than three lines should be presented within an indented paragraph with no quotation marks.
Bibliography guidelines and examples

The bibliography should be split into three main sections:

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

Let’s discuss about them in detail!

Table of legislation

This table must include all treaties, conventions, legislation and statutory instruments cited. Moreover, these entries should be ordered in alphabetical order by the first significant word of the title. You may choose to separate the legislation by jurisdiction.

Table of cases

The table of cases should include any cases cited in work. These should be sequenced in alphabetical order of the first significant word. You may choose to separate the cases by jurisdiction if needed.


The bibliography section should include all secondary sources cited in alphabetical order.

The referencing in the bibliography for all sources should be identical to the referencing in the footnotes, the only difference lies is in the formatting of the author's name.

OSCOLA Reference Examples

The following guidelines give examples of the citation required in the footnote, so remember to make the necessary amendments to the author's name in the bibliography.

Primary sources

1. UK Cases

When referencing a case as authority, you must give the full name of the case along with its neutral citation. Case name should always be in italics both in-text and the footnotes, but not in the bibliography.

For example: Nettleship v Weston [1971] 2 QB 691
Partridge v Crittenden [1968] 1 WLR 1204

If you have said the full name of the case in the text, then only the subsequent information is required in the footnote. For the above examples, the footnote would only read as follows:
[1971] 2 QB 691
[1968] 1 WLR 1204

If you are including an exact paragraph/passage of the judgment, then a pinpoint reference to the relevant part of the judgment should follow the citation.

For example: Partridge v Crittenden [1968] 1 WLR 1204 [1]-[37]
2. UK Legislation

Legislation should be cited using its short title and the year. The format to be followed is discussed below, and the example follows the same:
Format: Short title | Year

For example:Sale of Goods Act 1979
2)Environmental Protection Act 1990

To reference a particular section of the legislation, insert a comma with the section following. For instance, consider the example given below:
Sale of Goods Act 1979, s 3
Environmental Protection Act 1990, schedule 2

3. UK Statutory Instruments

The Statutory instruments require the name, year and the SI number. To cite the same, use the format given below:
Format: Name | year | SI number

For example: The Transfer of Tribunal Functions Order 2010, SI 2010/22
Education (Recognised Bodies) Order 1997, SI 1997/1
4. Treaties and protocols

To cite the treaties and protocols in the document are cited as:
Format: | [year] | | <issue/first page

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


5. Directives, regulations, decisions, recommendations, and opinions

When these things are to be cited in your legal document, do not follow any haphazard structure, go with the predefined one that is:
Format: | number | title | [year] | OJ L issue/first page

For example: Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation


6. European Court of Human Rights cases

You may cite the authoritative reports or the reports of judgments and decisions. Just ensure to be harmonious with your approach.
Ireland v UK App No 5310/71 (ECtHR, 25 January 1976)

7. Cases and legislation from other jurisdictions

The cases and other jurisdictions may also have some relevant data that might come handy to you. These should be cited as follows:

For example:West v Barnes 2 US 401 (1791
Kerryn Mitchell v The Queen [2015] NZCA 643


1. Books with one author

Most of the time, students rely on the books they find, but the books undergo constant revisions. To make sure you do not get accused of including faulty data in your document, make sure you include the publisher and year as well. Use the format given below:
Format: Author, | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

For example: James Mattey, Quantity Surveying, (2nd edition, Butterworths, 2012)
2. Books with two authors

When a book has more than one author, but you need to include their work in your scholarly document, you are required to use the following format:
Format: Author 1 and Author 2, | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

For example: Roger Sexton and Barbara Bogusz, Land Law, (Oxford University Press, 2010)
3. Books with three authors

If a book has three authors, then the format given below is advised to use:
Format: Author 1, Author 2 and Author 3 | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

For example: Stephen Mayson, Derek French and Christopher Ryan, Mayson, French & Ryan on Company Law (18th edition, Blackstone 2001)
4. Books with four or more authors

In the rarest of rare cases, if a book has too many authors, then you should use the format given below:
Format: Author 1 and others, | title | (edition, | publisher, | year)

For example: Harry Root and others, Management and Ethics (5th edition, Blackwells, 2002)
5. Articles

Many a time, the articles too deliver an important message, verdict or information. To cite them use the format given below:
Format: Author, | 'title' | [year] | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article

For example: Ian Dawson, 'Corporate rescue by the upright rescuer – a trap for the unwary' [2016] 29(6) Insolvency Intelligence 81
6. Websites and blogs

If there is no author, then begin the citation with the title. If there is no date of publication, provide the date you accessed it. The format to be followed is given below:
Format: Author | 'title' | (Website, date) | | accessed

7. Printed newspaper article

Newspapers are flooded with instances which can be used directly to conclude or provide any relevant argument in your academic document. To cite the same, use the following:
Format: Author, | 'title' | newspaper | (City of publication, date of publication) | page number

8. Online newspaper article

The online newspaper portals are also a sea of information from which the required ones can be fished out easily. To cite the following, use the format that follows:
Format: Author, | 'title' | newspaper | (City of publication, date of publication) |

Hope you were accurately guided by this write-up and will prefer taking help from the same while completing your next academic paper.

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