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The OSCOLA referencing style...

Overview of OSCOLA 4th Edition

The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is designed to facilitate accurate citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials. It is widely used in law schools and by journal and book publishers in the UK and beyond. OSCOLA is edited by the Oxford Law Faculty, in consultation with the OSCOLA Editorial Advisory Board.

   OSCOLA has been regularly updated and is now in its 4th edition (2012).

   It is a footnote style used in Newcastle Law School.

   If you are using EndNote, there is an OSCOLA 4th edition style available.

   Details of the OSCOLA style are available from the following pages on Oxford Law's website.

The Oxford Law's website includes a FAQ and a Quick Reference Guide for the current version of OSCOLA, bringing this guide up-to-date with suggestions for podcasts, YouTube, and other resources.

OSCOLA's 4th edition (2012) does not contain citation advice for international law sources. Information on citing these sources is available from OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law or the New York University's Law School Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations.

We highly recommend all Newcastle Law School students refer to the full and descriptive OSCOLA guide before addressing their formative and summative coursework. Click on the images below for the full (left) and quick (right) guides:

          OSCOLA Quick Reference Guide

[Source: OSCOLA website]

If you are citing an element of international law (e.g. a Treaty) you will need to consult separate guides:

A handy list of A-Z OSCOLA examples provided by Cardiff University is also available:

An image of the Cardiff University A-Z Guide to OSCOLA references homepage.

If you are citing an element of international law (e.g. a Treaty, UN documents, ICJ publications) you will need to consult separate guides:

An image of the OSCOLA International Law sources guide.  An image of the NYU Foreign and International Legal Citations Guide.

OSCOLA is a guide and offers a consistent method of citing legal materials in your work. It is not definitive. If the material you wish to cite is not included in the OSCOLA rules or guidelines then check the OSCOLA FAQs section on the Oxford University website which is being used to record advice on new or updated resources, pending discussion by the OSCOLA editorial board. Alternatively, use the general principles of the standard to maintain consistency. You will not be penalised for this. If you need to cite international law, please see the tab above. 

Specific examples with Newcastle Law School approval:

  • WLUK citations

WLUK are Westlaw's own neutral citations and are not a published case series or law report. As noted in the current Practice Direction you should cite a published series in preference, e.g. The Law Reports, the Weekly Law Reports, the All England Law Reports or a specialist series. If this is the only version of the case available then please note the difference in detail:

Stream v Environment Agency [2019] 4 WLUK 397


[2019] is the year the case was heard

4 is the month of the hearing (not the volume)

WLUK is Westlaw United Kingdom

397 is a sequential number given to the case by Westlaw (not a page number)


  • A source cited in a secondary source (as noted in OSCOLA FAQs)

If it is not possible to find the original source, cite the source as cited in the secondary source. In brackets, put 'as cited in' then cite the secondary source including the page number.

Quoted in WL Clay, The Prison Chaplain: A Memoir of the Reverend John Clay (London 1861) 554 (as cited in M Wiener, Reconstructing the Criminal Culture, Law and Policy in England 1830-1914 (CUP 1990) 70)


  • Westlaw Insight*

*Please note: this is historic unless you are using the old Westlaw interface (being phased out through 2019).

Jonathan Coad and Lewis Silkin, 'Defamation: Internet Publications' Westlaw Insight (26 November 2013) [1] accessed 7 October 2016

Insight articles should be cited using the rules for newspapers articles (see OSCOLA's full guide), with Westlaw Insight in place of the newspaper name, no publisher information, the date when you accessed the article (as they do get updated), and paragraph numbers (where necessary) in square brackets.

EndNote is a useful tool for managing your references, but the OSCOLA_4th_edn style in EndNote does require some manual inputting and amending of references to ensure that footnotes and bibliographies comply with the published guidelines for the OSCOLA referencing style. To find out about how to use EndNote and OSCOLA, please go to the OSCOLA section on the EndNote Library Guide.

Teach Yourself OSCOLA 4th Edition

The Cite Them Right Referencing Tutorial includes the OSCOLA referencing style.

This is a comprehensive interactive exercise which reinforces the principles of referencing and use of the OSCOLA style, advised for use in Newcastle Law School. You do not have to register to take the tutorial, but your progress will not be saved if you explore the exercise without registration.

An image of the Cite Them Right Referencing Tutorial start screen.

Check out this OSCOLA tutorial on citing the law:

It 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.

The 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

Law PORT is a collection of training resources from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). These resources have been designed by a team of knowledgeable IALS Librarians to support postgraduate researchers in Public International Law and in the correct use of OSCOLA.

An image of the #LawPORT start page for the OSCOLA tutorial.

Cite them right

Cite them right

Cite them right is an online guide (also available in print) designed to help students understand the importance of referencing accurately. It can be used to help cite and reference just about any source, in any style you need: make sure you check it out.