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Referencing - OSCOLA

Secondary sources

Primary sources are the law itself -- cases, legislation, regulations.  Secondary sources explain, analyse, critique and discuss the law.  Secondary sources include books, journal articles, legal blogs, encyclopedias like Halsbury's, Topic guides in Westlaw, and anything that isn't 'the law'.

There are special rules for citing books and journal articles. 

Book: Author, | Title  | (publication information).

Journal article with no volume:  author, | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article 

Journal article with volume: author, | ‘title’ | (year) | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article

For examples, see the secondary source subsections of this guide.

Other secondary sources

The general rule for referencing reports and other secondary sources is:

author,  | 'title' | (additional information, | publisher | year)

See section 3.4 of the OSCOLA guide for examples of reports and other secondary materials.


Pinpointing: secondary sources

You need to include a specific page number for your reference if:

  • Direct quote
  • Idea is from a particular page, or pages, rather than the entire book or article

Pinpoints may be to page numbers, chapters, sections, or paragraphs (depending on how the source is organised).  The pinpoint comes at the end of the footnote.  In the example below, 317 is the page number:

Andrew Burrows, Remedies for Torts and Breach of Contract (3rd edn, OUP 2004) 317.

Author names

Give the author’s name exactly as it appears in the publication, but omit postnominals such as QC. When judges write extra-curially, they should be named as in the publication in question.

If there are more than three authors, give the name of the first author followed by ‘and others’. If no individual author is identified, but an organisation or institution claims editorial responsibility for the work, then cite it as the author. If no person, organisation or institution claims responsibility for the work, begin the citation with the title. Treat editors’ names in the same way as authors’ names.