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Citing Legal Information


OSCOLA is an acronym which stands for the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities. It is a guide to legal citation developed by the Oxford Law Faculty and is an authoritative way to prepare legal citation in the UK academic world. The latest edition is available from 

It gives rules for

  • the main UK legal primary sources,
  • many types of secondary sources.

OSCOLA is footnote style, all citations appear in footnotes. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of a page. Close footnotes with a full stop. See the examples below. Endnotes or in-text citations are not used.



Incorporate quotations of up to three lines into the text, within single inverted commas. Present quotations longer than three lines in an indented paragraph. Do not use quotation marks. Refer to the examples below.

Subsequent citations

When a source is cited subsequently, briefly identify the source and provide a cross-citation in brackets to the footnote in which the full citation can be found. Observe these principles for subsequent citations. Details are available from the OSCOLA manual, p. 5-7.

Subsequent citation of cases: use a short form of the case name



Subsequent citation of legislation: may use abbreviations or other short forms



Subsequent citation of secondary sources: use only the author's or authors' surnames



Subsequent citation is in the footnote immediately following the full citation: use "ibid" 


List of abbreviations, tables and bibliography

When writing a longer work, such as a book or a thesis, you need to compile a list of abbreviations and tables of all the cases, legislation and other primary 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 be: table of cases, table of legislation and other tables. A bibliography listing secondary sources should also be provided after the main body of text and any appendices. Please also note the followings.

List of abbreviations

Do not define abbreviations that are part of everyday legal usage.

Table of cases

  • Case names are not italicized in a table of cases.
  • Cases are listed in alphabetical order of the first significant word.
  • Divide the table into separate sections for different jurisdictions.

Table of legislation

  • Legislation should be in alphabetical order of the first significant word, not chronological order.
  • If there is legislation from more than one jurisdiction, have separate list for each jurisdiction.


  • For each entry on the list, the author's surname comes before his/her initials.
  • Replace the given names with initials.
  • Works should be arranged in alphabetical order of the author surname.

However, if you are writing a shorter work such as journal articles or essays, list of abbreviations, tables and bibliography are not required. Only footnotes are sufficient.


Citing cases

A typical UK case citation is as follows.

Neutral citations are relatively recent development. Many cases without neutral citations are typically cited as follows.

Case names

  • Use italics for case names.
  • Separate the names of the adverse parties with an unpunctuated italicized "v".
  • In a table of cases, case names are not italicized.
  • If the name of the case is given in the text, it is not necessary to repeat it in the footnote.


Neutral citations

Neutral citations are available from these sources:

Law report citations

  • Cite a law report by its abbreviated title.
  • Always include the starting page, regardless if you pinpoint any particular page.
  • Since unreported judgment is generally available online much earlier than the law reports, so check all neutral citations you prepared to see if reported decision is published subsequently before submitting your work.

Citing statutes

Cite an act by its short title and year, without a comma before the year. Use capitals for the major words.


When referring to part of the statute in a footnote, use abbreviated form: s/ss, para/paras, pt/pts, sch/schs. If specifying a paragraph or subsection as part of section, use only the abbreviation for the section.


A citation in a footnote is not required when citing legislation if all the information the reader needs about the source is provided in the text. But when the text does not include the name of the act, this information should be provided in a footnote. 



Secondary sources refer to commentaries on law, such as books, journal articles, legal encyclopedias and so on. Please note the following general practices in citing secondary sources. Individual material types will be covered next.

  • Name of authors
    • Give the name exactly as it appears in the publication, but omit post-nominal letters. Examples of post-nominal letters: JP, SC.
    • In footnotes, the author’s first name or initials precede their surname.

  • In bibliographies, the surname comes first, then the initials, followed by a comma. Only initials should be used but not forenames.

  • If there are more than three authors, give the name of the first author followed by "and others".
  • In situation where no person, organization claims responsibility, follow this practice. In the footnote, begin the citation with the title of the work. In the bibliography, such works should be preceded by a double em-dash. Entries in a bibliography should be arranged in alphabetical order of author surname, with unattributed works listed at the beginning. See the following examples.

  • Title of works

Capitalize the first letter in all major words in the title.

Citing books

  • A book citation should include these elements.

author, | title | (additional information, | edition, | publisher | year).

N.B. Additional information refers to any other types of details about the book, such as series, translator, etc.

  • Authored books: use italics for the title, put publication information within parenthesis.
  • Edited and translated books: apply the same rule, insert “(ed)” or “(tr)”. When there are two editors or translators, use “(eds)” or “(trs)”.

Citing articles

  • A journal article citation should include these elements.

author, | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article.


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

  • The style for authors is the same as that for books.
  • Put the article title within single inverted commas.
  • Use full form or abbreviation for journal title.

Citing a chapter or essay in an edited book

  • An essay or chapter in edited book should be cited with these elements.

author, |‘title of chapter' |in book editor (ed), |book title |(additional information, |publisher | year).

Citing other secondary sources

When citing other secondary materials, observe this general rule. If a source has an ISBN, cite it like a book. If the source does not have ISBN, cite it similarly, but put single quotation marks around the title.

Secondary sources with ISBN, cite this way: Author, | title | (additional information, | publisher | year).

Secondary sources without ISBN, cite this way: Author, | 'title' | (additional information, | publisher | year).

  • Conference papers

author, | 'title of the paper' | (title of the conference, | location, | date).

  • Theses

author, | 'title' | (type of thesis, | institution | year).

  • Website adn blogs

author, | 'title' | (title of website, | date of publication) | <URL> | accessed date.

  • Newspaper articles

author, | 'title' | newspaper title | (city of publication, | date) | starting page.

The guides below also provide useful hints and tips about OSCOLA.

There are examples for different types of sources.

You can find there updates to OSCOLA and ways of citing sources that are not specifically referred to in the 4th edition.  

An online tutorial. Lots of activities to help you understand OSCOLA.

Online tutorial plus step by step guide.

You may also want to consult these library books.