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Referencing and citations - OSCOLA: The Basics

Referencing and citations - OSCOLA

Major points to note

  • All OSCOLA citations to appear as footnotes on each page.
  • No use of end notes or in-text citations.
  • Footnote markers to appear at the end of the relevant sentence.
  • Materials can be specified in tables of cases/statutes etc at the start of your work.
  • Keep punctuation to a minimum, but close all footnotes with a full stop.
  • Clarity and consistency to be the guiding rules.
  • IALS library card holders are welcome to make a reference appointment with a librarian to discuss their use of OSCOLA.


Items in bibliographies take the same form as all other citations in OSCOLA, with three exceptions: (1) the author’s surname should precede his or her initial(s), with no comma separating them, but a comma after the final initial; (2) only initials should be used, and not forenames; and (3) the titles of unattributed works should be preceded by a double em-dash. Works should be arranged in alphabetical order of author surname, with unattributed works being listed at the beginning of the bibliography in alphabetical order of first major word of the title.

A longer legal work, such as a book or a thesis, generally has a list of abbreviations and tables of all the cases, legislation and other primary legal sources cited in the work in the preliminary pages. The list of abbreviations should come before the tables, and the order of the tables should generally be: table of cases; table of legislation; other tables.

Lexis & Westlaw

You should never need to include Lexis or Westlaw in a citation. The cases, statutes and journal articles on these databases are treated as authentic versions, and should be cited exactly the same as the hard copy.

Similarly, if you source a publication online which is also available in hard copy, cite the hard copy version. There is no need to cite an electronic source for such a publication.


Incorporate quotations of up to three lines into the text, within 'single' quotation marks. Punctuation follows the closing quotation mark, and the footnote marker comes last. NB - If you need to submit your work through Turnitin, use "double" quotation marks.

Longer quotations should be presented in an indented paragraph, with no further indentation of the first line. Leave a line space before and after the indented quotation, and do NOT use quotation marks.

Further detailed information about how to present quotations (including quotes in quotes, quotes which are fragments) can be found on page 8 of the OSCOLA guide.