Students Studying Law should use the OSCOLA referencing system. 

Guides to OSCOLA:

What is OSCOLA referencing?

There are three parts to OSCOLA referencing:

  • the footnote marker
  • the footnote, and
  • the bibliography
The footnote marker appears in your text to acknowledge a case or piece of legislation. It is also there to reference where an idea, piece of research, statistic, quotation etc came from - this avoids plagiarism.
 
The footnote appears on the bottom of the page with details of the resource, ie book, case, legislation etc. Footnotes should be written and formatted according to OSCOLA.
 
The bibliography appears at the end of your work, listing all primary and secondary sources. The bibliography should be written and formatted according to OSCOLA.
 

Reference types

Below are a few of the main types of resource you'll need to reference. These are just examples.  What's included in your reference can vary depending on a number of different factors. For example, what's included in a case footnote and how it's formatted, will depend on whether a neutral citation is available, and jurisdiction.  So always refer to the Law Division's OSCOLA guide as your definitive guide to referencing legal materials.

Books

Books are secondary sources. An example of a footnote and bibliography entry would be:

Footnote:

Gillian Black and Josephine R Bisacre, Business Law in Scotland (3rd edn, W Green 2015).

NOTE: name the author(s) as they appear in the publication

Footnote with pinpoint:

Gillian Black and Josephine R Bisacre, Business Law in Scotland (3rd edn, W Green 2015) 23.

NOTE: add a pinpoint at the end of your footnote when you have made a direct quotation, or are referring to something from a specific page. This example pinpoints page 23.

Subsequent footnote:

Black and Bisacre (n1) 65.

NOTE: when footnoting something you've already footnoted earlier in your work, the subsequent footnote is abbreviated, as above. (n1) indicates where the full footnote can be found. This example now pinpoints page 65.

Bibliography:

Black G and Bisacre J R, Business Law in Scotland (3rd edn, W Green 2015)

NOTE: the bibliography is ordered alphabetically by surname. Format the authors names here by surname followed by initial(s).

For further guidance, see the Law Division's OSCOLA Guide.

Journals

Journals are secondary sources. An example of a footnote and bibliography entry would be:

Footnote:

Paul Craig, ‘Theory, “Pure Theory” and Values in Public Law’ [2005] PL 440.

Footnote with pinpoint:

Paul Craig, ‘Theory, “Pure Theory” and Values in Public Law’ [2005] PL 440, 442.

NOTE: pinpoint by adding the page number after the first page of the article, ie 440=first page, 442=pinpoint

Subsequent footnote:

Craig (n1).

NOTE: (n1) indicates where the full footnote can be found

Bibliography:

Craig P, ‘Theory, “Pure Theory” and Values in Public Law’ [2005] PL 440

For further guidance, see the Law Division's OSCOLA Guide.

NOTE: journal titles are always abbreviated, in this case PL standing for Public Law. You should abbreviate journal titles correctly according to the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.

Cases - England and Wales

A case is a primary source. An example of a footnote and table entry would be:Case citation

Footnote:

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884.

Footnote with pinpoint:

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884 [42].

NOTE: when pinpointing, give paragraph numbers in square brackets. If there are no paragraph numbers, give the page number unbracketed.

Subsequent footnote:

10 Corr (n 1) [45].

NOTE: (n 1) indicates where the full footnote can be found, but this citation refers to a different paragraph

Bibliography table of cases entry:

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] UKHL 13, [2008] 1 AC 884

Different rules apply depending on a number of factors eg whether a neutral citation is available, or whether or not the year is essential to find the source. For further guidance, see the Law Division's OSCOLA Guide.

Cases - Scotland

A case is a primary source. An example of a footnote and table entry would be:‌

Footnote:

Davidson v Scottish Ministers [2005] UKHL 74, 2006 SC (HL).

Footnote with pinpoint:

Davidson v Scottish Ministers [2005] UKHL 74, 2006 SC (HL) [41].

NOTE: when pinpointing, give paragraph numbers in square brackets. If there are no paragraph numbers, give the page number unbracketed.

Subsequent footnote:

Davidson (n 1) [45].

NOTE: (n 1) indicates where the full footnote can be found, but this citation refers to a different paragraph

Bibliography table of cases entry:

Davidson v Scottish Ministers [2005] UKHL 74, 2006 SC (HL)

Different rules apply depending on a number of factors eg whether a neutral citation is available, or whether or not the year is essential to find the source. For further guidance, see the Law Division's ‌.

Legislation

Legislation is a primary source. An example of a footnote and table entry would be:‌

Footnote:

Food (Scotland) Act 2015 (asp1).

NOTE: a footnote is not required if all the information has already been given in the body of your text. If the title or section are not in your text, provide a footnote.

Subsequent footnote:

Food (Scotland) Act 2015 (asp1) (FSA 2015) s 19(1).

FSA 2015, s. 21(2).

NOTE: if you are planning to refer to the same Act a number of times, include the abbreviated form eg (FSA 2015) in the first footnote, then use the abbreviated form thereafter.

Table entry:

Food (Scotland) Act 2015 (asp1)

Different rules apply depending on a number of factors. For further guidance, see the Law Division's OSCOLA Guide.

Frequently asked questions

How should I lay out my bibliography?

The bibliography should follow your work and include all sources cited in your work. It should be arranged alphabetically under the following headings:

  • Abbreviations (if appropriate)
  • Table of cases (subdivided by jurisdiction)
  • Table of legislation (subdivided by jurisdiction)
  • Secondary sources, subdivided by type: 
    • Books
    • Journal Articles 
    • Government Reports
    • Websites etc
What should be in my footnote?

OSCOLA is a footnote style, therefore all citations must appear as footnotes.

To insert a footnote into your Word document:

  • place the cursor where you would like to insert a footnote - the footnote marker should be placed at the end of a sentence, after any punctuation eg ...sentence end.1 or mid-sentence, if needed for clarity
  • go to References (in Word horizontal menu)
  • insert footnote
  • insert the details required for your footnote depending on what type of legal resource it is