The following pages will show you how to:
- cite cases and legislation, i.e. the ‘primary’ sources of law, in the accepted way
- refer to ‘secondary’ sources such as books, journals and government reports in your work
- cite using OSCOLA, the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities, fourth edition.
View the pages in order using the arrow below or jump directly to a page using the links in the panel on the left.
|This resource was devised by Cathie Jackson and Ian Bradley, Information Services staff at Cardiff University and was partly funded by the UK Centre for Legal Education. The 4th edition revisions have been added by Matthew Davies and Lynn Goodhew. OSCOLA is produced by the Oxford University Law Faculty and further details in the use of the OSCOLA style can be found on the OSCOLA website.|
Cite all publications with an ISBN as if they were books, whether read online or in hard copy. Older books do not have ISBNs, but should be cited as books even if read online.
author, | title | (additional information, | edition, | publisher | year)
Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (OUP 2009)
Gareth Jones, Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (1st supp, 7th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2009)
Christian von Bar, The Common European Law of Torts, vol 2 (CH Beck 2000) para 76
Andrew Burrows, Remedies for Torts and Breach of Contract (3rd edn, OUP 2004) 317 35
Julian V Roberts and Mike Hough, Public Opinion and the Jury: An International Literature Review (Ministry of Justice Research Series 1/09, 2009) 42
If there is no author, cite the editor or translator as you would an author, adding in brackets after their name ‘(ed)’ or ‘(tr)’, or ‘(eds)’ or ‘(trs)’ if there is more than one.
Jeremy Horder (ed), Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence: Fourth Series (OUP 2000) Peter Birks and Grant McLeod (trs), The Institutes of Justinian (Duckworth 1987)
If the work has an author, but an editor or translator is also acknowledged on the front cover, cite the author in the usual way and attribute the editor or translator at the beginning of the publication information, within the brackets.
HLA Hart, Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law (John Gardner ed, 2nd edn, OUP 2008)
K Zweigert and H Kötz, An Introduction to Comparative Law (Tony Weir tr, 3rd edn, OUP 1998)
Citing a book chapter
When citing a chapter or essay in an edited book, cite the author and the title of the contribution, in a similar format to that used when citing an article, and then give the editor’s name, the title of the book in italics, and the publication information. It is not necessary to give the pages of the contribution.
author, | ‘title’ | in editor (ed), | book title | (additional information, | publisher | year)
Justine Pila, ‘The Value of Authorship in the Digital Environment’ in William H Dutton and Paul W Jeffreys (eds), World Wide Research: Reshaping the Sciences and Humanities in the Century of Information (MIT Press 2010)
John Cartwright, ‘The Fiction of the “Reasonable Man”’ in AG Castermans and others (eds), Ex Libris Hans Nieuwenhuis (Kluwer 2009)
When citing articles, give the author’s name first, followed by a comma. Then give the title of the article, in roman within single quotation marks. After the title, give the publication information in the following order:
- year of publication, in square brackets if it identifies the volume, in round brackets if there is a separate volume number;
- the volume number if there is one (include an issue number only if the page numbers begin again for each issue within a volume, in which case put the issue number in brackets immediately after the volume number);
- the name of the journal in roman, in full or abbreviated form, with no full stops; and
- the first page of the article.
author, | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article
author, | ‘title’ | (year) | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article
Paul Craig, ‘Theory, “Pure Theory” and Values in Public Law’  PL 440
Alison L Young, ‘In Defence of Due Deference’ (2009) 72 MLR 554
Put a comma after the first page of the article if there is a pinpoint.
JAG Griffith, ‘The Common Law and the Political Constitution’ (2001) 117 LQR 42, 64
Jeremy Waldron, ‘The Core of the Case against Judicial Review’ (2006) 115 Yale LJ 1346, 1372
Hansard and parliamentary reports
There are three series of Hansard, one reporting debates on the floor of the House of Commons, one debates in the House of Lords, and one debates in the Public Bill committees of the House of Commons, which replaced standing committees in 2007. When referring to the first two series, cite the House abbreviation (HL or HC), followed by ‘Deb’, then the full date, the volume and the column. Use ‘col’ or ‘cols’ for column(s). In the House of Commons, written answers are indicated by the suffix ‘W’ after the column number; in the House of Lords, they are indicated by the prefix ‘WA’ before the column number.
HL Deb OR HC Deb | date, | volume, | column
HC Deb 3 February 1977, vol 389, cols 973–76 40
HC Deb 4 July 1996, vol 280, col 505W
HL Deb 21 July 2005, vol 673, col WA261
HL Deb 12 November 2009, vol 714, col 893
Command papers include White and Green Papers, relevant treaties, government responses to select committee reports, and reports of committees of inquiry. When citing a command paper, begin the citation with the name of the department or other body that produced the paper, and then give the title of the paper in italics, followed by the command paper number and the year in brackets. If additional information is required, insert it within the brackets before the command paper number. The abbreviation preceding a command paper number depends on the year of publication:
1833–69 (C (1stseries))
1870–99 (C (2nd series))
Home Office, Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (Cmd 8932, 1953) para 53
Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2008 Autumn Performance Report (Cm 7507, 2008) 54
Department for International Development, Eliminating World Poverty: Building our Common Future (White Paper, Cm 7656, 2009) ch 5
When citing conference papers that were only available at a conference or directly from the author, give the author, the title in quotation marks and then in brackets the title, location and date of the conference. If a conference paper has been published, cite the published version instead; papers that are available online should include a web address and date of access. Cite conference papers that are not publicly available only if you have the author’s permission.
Ben McFarlane and Donal Nolan, ‘Remedying Reliance: The Future Development of Promissory and Proprietary Estoppel in English Law’ (Obligations III conference, Brisbane, July 2006)
When citing an unpublished thesis, give the author, the title and then in brackets the type of thesis, university and year of completion.
Javan Herberg, ‘Injunctive Relief for Wrongful Termination of Employment’ (DPhil thesis, University of Oxford 1989)
Websites and blogs
Where there is no relevant advice elsewhere in OSCOLA, follow the general principles for secondary sources (section 3.1) when citing websites and blogs. If there is no author identified, and it is appropriate to cite an anonymous source, begin the citation with the title in the usual way. If there is no date of publication on the website, give only the date of access.
Sarah Cole, ‘Virtual Friend Fires Employee’ (Naked Law, 1 May 2009)
When citing newspaper articles, give the author, the title, the name of the newspaper in italics and then in brackets the city of publication and the date. Some newspapers have ‘The’ in the title and some do not. If known, give the number of the page on which the article was published, after the brackets. If the newspaper is divided into sections, and the page numbering begins afresh in each section, put the section name in roman before the page number, with a space but no comma between the two. If the reference is to an editorial, cite the author as ‘Editorial’. If the article is sourced from the web and there is no page number available, provide the web address and date of access.
Jane Croft, ‘Supreme Court Warns on Quality’ Financial Times (London, 1 July 2010)
Ian Loader, ‘The Great Victim of this Get Tough Hyperactivity is Labour’ The Guardian (London, 19 June 2008)
This guide was taken from the Oxford Law Faculty's OSCOLA 4th Edition guide (accessed 07/01/2015) which you can find elsewhere on this page and online at https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxlaw/oscola_4th_edn_hart_2012.pdf.