Oscola Referencing Guide

Primary Sources: General principles

  • Put the footnote marker at the end of a sentence, unless it relates to a specific word or phrase.
  • OSCOLA uses little punctuation; no full stops in abbreviations or between initials in author’s names.
  • Close footnotes with a full stop. Use semi-colons to separate multiple citations for a single footnote.
  • If citing legislation and case law for a single proposition, put the legislation before the cases, separated by a semi-colon. If citing primary and secondary sources for a single proposition, put the primary sources before the secondary sources.
  • If a case is unreported but has a neutral citation, give that. If an unreported case does not have a neutral citation (which will always be the case before 2001), give the court and the date of the judgment in brackets after the name of the case. There is no need to add the word ‘unreported’.
  • Pre-1865, if a judgment is reprinted in the English Reports, give the citations of both the original report and the English Reports reprint, separated by a comma.
  • If a case has a European Case Law Identifier (ECLI), insert it after the case name followed by a comma and the law report citation (if there is one). For unreported cases, use the ECLI.
  • If the name of a case is given in the text, it is not necessary to repeat it in the footnote, see:
  • When citing legislation, if all the source detail is in the text, there’s no need for a footnote at all, see:
  • Where the text does not include the name of the Act or the relevant section, use a footnote, see:
  • Statutes are split into parts (pt/pts), sections (s/ss), subsections (sub-s/sub-ss), paragraphs (para/paras), subparagraphs (subpara/subparas) and may have additional schedules (sch/schs). Statutory Instruments also use regulations (reg/regs), rules (r/rr) and articles (art/ats).
  • If a subsequent citation is in the footnote immediately following the full citation, use ‘ibid’. Used alone, ‘ibid’ means ‘in the very same place’ while ‘ibid 345’ means ‘in the same work, but this time at page 345’. If there are other footnotes in between the original footnote and the next time the source is cited, use a shortened version of the case name with a cross-citation in brackets to the footnote with the full citation (n). For legislation, indicate the short form at the end of the first full citation and use this in subsequent citations.

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