When is Oxford referencing used?
OSCOLA stands for The Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities. This referencing style was developed at Oxford University and is therefore also widely known as the Oxford referencing style. It’s used mainly by law schools and publishers for sources relating to legal cases and legislation in general.
You will need to reference the materials and resources you have used for your own writing in three places:
- In text citations: A small number is added (in superscript) onto the end of the information you need to reference (following any punctuation), which links the info to the full details of the reference found in a footnote at the bottom of the page. These superscript numbers increase in sequence throughout your text –¹, ², ³ etc.
The Tabletop theory¹ is challenged by the studio-based movement.² Farthing argues that ‘the movement was clearly drawing a line under…’.³
- Footnotes: The full details of these materials need to be noted as a footnote at the bottom of the same page you refer to them on. Here, the author’s forename goes first. Note that place of publication is not included.
¹Stephen Farthing, ART The Legal Story (Thames & Hudson Ltd 2010).
- Reference List: Directly after your essay, you then list the sources you’ve used in full. The list is organised by type of source, and then alphabetically by the author’s surname.
Additionally, if you’ve done other reading around the subject, but aren’t referring to those texts specifically, you can choose to list those sources in a Bibliography at the end of your essay. Any bibliography will not be included in your word count.
Exactly what to include depends on the type of source the information comes from. Our referencing tool will ask you for what’s needed for each material type, but if you don’t have everything you need, this guide takes you through what you need to do. As well as this, we explain how in-text citations and footnotes are formatted in the Oxford referencing style.
How to use our free Chicago referencing generator
Don’t forget that doing your referencing incorrectly could impact your marks. Always take some time before you submit your assignment to manually check your reference list once you’ve assembled it.
To use our free referencing tool, simply select which kind of resource you need to reference and fill in all the information that’s needed for that specific source material type. Then click ‘Generate reference’ and your Oxford style reference will be ready for you to paste into your Reference List. It’s as easy as that.
If you don’t have all the information you need, that’s when things get a little more complicated. See the next section if you’re missing some of the essential info.
What to do if you don't have all the information
You don’t know an author’s name
If you’re looking at a source that doesn’t state who it’s been written by, you should firstly question its credibility. There may be times it does need to be included, so if that’s the case, you’ll just need to make do with the information you can find. Use any listed contributors instead – if it’s an online resource, you should be able to find a name on the ‘About’ section of their website.
For a printed resource, you could use the firm or the publication company as the author as the last resort. You’ll find this just inside the cover of the publication. Never use ‘Anonymous’. The publisher, organisation or particular law firm is always better eg Marriott Harrison.
You don’t know the publication date
Again, you should question a resource if it can’t be dated. Sometimes however, you will need to reference historical references that won’t have a precise date. If there are simply no dates to be found, you can use ‘[no date]’.
If it’s an online resource you’re using, you could use the date a page was last updated.
Oxford Referencing - Your questions answered
How do you format judges’ names?
If ever you need to refer to a judge, you should use the judge’s surname followed by their initial. For example, Bloggs J. But, if the judge you are referring to happens to have a special title, this is notes with their initial. For example, Lord Joe Bloggs will be Bloggs LJ.
Can you abbreviate legal terms?
OSCOLA abbreviates a range of legal institutions and sources and you can view this list at legalabbrevs.cardiff.ac.uk. For example, a Supreme Court judge should be referred to as Lord Bloggs BCJ and the Lord Chief Justice can be abbreviated to Lord Bloggs CJ.
Whenever you’re using abbreviations generally within your text, just remember to spell the term out in full the first time you mention it (in parenthesis) after its first use. Then thereafter, you can just use the abbreviation.
How do you reference your own writing?
There may be occasions when you need to refer back to something you’ve already discussed within your writing. To do this, you use cross-citation. It’s best practice to be as specific as you can by using a footnote number.
For example, ‘see n 112 for footnote’.
How do you cite multiple sources within one footnote?
To do this, you simply use semi-colons to distinguish between the sources within your footnote. Unlike with other referencing styles, you should order them in chronological order (by date), rather than the order they appear in the text. But, if you have two or more sources in your footnote and one of these is particularly relevant, you should include it first and use ‘see also’ for the others.
How do you refer to a specific location in a text?
The Oxford referencing style allows you to use pinpoints to direct the reader to a particular part of a report or other document. This works through including numbered paragraphs or page numbers. You simply add your number onto the end of your footnote in brackets. If there are multiple locations within the text that need to be referred to, you just list them all, separated by a comma.
6Dadswell v Carroll  PLTC Civ 4443,  4 WTG 412 , , .
What is secondary referencing and can you use it?
There may be occasions where you need to refer to a text that you haven’t actually read but that is written about in a source that you are using. It’s best practice to use first hand references where you can, but if you find yourself needing to use a secondary one, this is ok to do. To do this, you simply use the footnote for the source you have read (that refers to the secondary source) and add ‘citing…’
21 Stephen Farthing, ART The Legal Story (Thames & Hudson Ltd 2010) citing Strong v Carroll (1996) 21 PWRR (29).
How do you cite the same source multiple times?
When it comes to citing a legal case, you should cite it in full the first time it’s mentioned. After that, you can use a shorter form of the name of the case and a cross-citation [in brackets] to the original footnote. Just remember that you don’t need to include the name of the case in the footnote if it is included in the main body of your text.
If any subsequent citation comes directly after the first citation, you can just use ‘ibid’ (which means ‘in the same place’) and put the superscript number in brackets [like this].
How should you format direct quotes?
If it’s useful to include word-for-word text from a source, make sure it sits between single quotation marks to distinguish it from your own ideas.
If your quote is 1 or 2 lines long, you should integrate the quote within your text.
As Dadswell states, ‘the studio-based moment didn’t…’.¹
But, if you are including a longer quote that is made up of 3 lines or more, you should drop the quotation marks and it should be separated out from the text a little. To do this, you simply move the quote to a new line and indent it.
What’s included in your word count?
Any in-text citations you use are usually included in your word count. Your footnotes, reference list and any additional bibliography are not included in your word count.