Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities OSCOLA

OSCOLA is the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities . It aims to facilitate the accurate citation of cases, legislation, and other legal materials.

OSCOLA is a guide to legal citation.   The 4th edition was published in November 2010.  OSCOLA helps you to cite your sources in footnotes consistently, accurately and with consideration for the reader.  It provides rules and examples of citing UK primary sources, European Union sources, European Court of Human Rights material, and cases and legislation from some other jurisdictions.  It also considers how to cite secondary sources: books, journal articles, official publications, material from the internet, newspapers, and other communications.

Guidance on compiling bibliographies is on page 11.  The Appendix includes a guide to neutral citations, guidance on abbreviations, and a useful guide on citing sources for other jurisdictions. A quick reference guide at the end outlines the main rules and gives examples of citations for cases, legislation, EU and ECHR material, and for selected secondary sources.


The 4th edition does not include guidance on how to cite sources of public international law. See the OSCOLA website for guidance on this.

IALS Library also has an online research guide on Referencing and citing legal materials using the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA). OSCOLA is the only UK born legal citation system, and since its inception in 2000 it has become the most commonly used system in UK higher education, providing a simple, uniform way to reference all types of primary and secondary materials. The guide from IALS provides a brief introduction to using OSCOLA, with examples and pointers on where to find extra help. The guide will be of use to legal researchers all across the country. As it is freely available on the IALS website, anyone new to using OSCOLA will benefit from reading it. The OSCOLA guide can be accessed here: http://libguides.ials.sas.ac.uk/referencing.

If you need further assistance using OSCOLA don’t forget that if you are registered with IALS Library you can book a free one-to-one appointment with a reference librarian throughout the Summer. Just ask at the 4th Floor Issue & Enquiry Desk, or email ials@sas.ac.uk to arrange this.