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 http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/published/OSCOLA_4th_edn_Hart_2012.pdf.
It gives rules for
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.
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
Table of legislation
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.
A typical UK case citation is as follows.
Neutral citations are relatively recent development. Many cases without neutral citations are typically cited as follows.
Neutral citations are available from these sources:
Law report citations
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.
Capitalize the first letter in all major words in the title.
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.
author, | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article.
author, | ‘title’ | (year) | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article.
Citing a chapter or essay in an edited book
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).
author, | 'title of the paper' | (title of the conference, | location, | date).
author, | 'title' | (type of thesis, | institution | year).
author, | 'title' | (title of website, | date of publication) | <URL> | accessed date.
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.