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Citing and referencing for Law

A guide covering citing and referencing using OSCOLA, with an online tutorial, hints and tips, and links for further help.

Citing Primary Sources


Here are some examples of how to cite a case:

Cases (England and Wales)

For case citations which include a neutral citation:

case name | [year] | court | number, | [year] OR (year) | volume | report abbreviation | first page

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

For case citations where there is no neutral citation:

case name | [year] OR (year) | volume | report abbreviation | first page | (court)

e.g. Page v Smith [1996] AC 155 (HL)

An explanation about brackets: Put the year in square brackets if the year is necessary to identify the law report volume. Use round brackets if the year is NOT necessary to identify it, i.e. because the volumes of the law report series are independently numbered. An example of a law report series where the volumes are independently numbered is the Butterworths Medico-Legal Reports. For further information see pages 13-14 of the OSCOLA guide. There is also a Cardiff University Citing the Law tutorial which has helpful information on citing case law.

UK primary legislation

When citing Acts your citation should be made up of the short title and year, e.g.:

Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995

If referring to a section only, the format would be:

Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995, s1

Other primary sources: the OSCOLA guide (PDF, 437 KB) gives additional guidance for pre-1865 cases, older statutes, bills, secondary legislation, EU legislation and judgments and European Court of Human Rights judgments. See pages 13-32 for full details of how to cite primary legal sources.

Citing Secondary Sources


Here are some examples of how to cite a book:

As a rough guide1, a citation for a book should take the form below.

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

e.g. Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (3rd edn, OUP 2015)

If you need to pinpoint a particular page of the book, you can do this by adding the page number onto the end of the citation:

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

1. Note: there will be situations where it is more difficult to create a citation (e.g. books with more than three authors; books with no authors; edited or translated books; encyclopedias; looseleafs, etc.)  Luckily, there is plenty of advice on these topics at pages 33 to 37.

Journal articles

If a journal article is available in print, you can cite it as follows:

author, | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article


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

e.g. Alison L Young, ‘In Defence of Due Deference’ (2009) 72 MLR 554

If you are citing a journal article which is published ONLY electronically, a different format is used:

author, | ‘title’ | [year] OR (year) | volume/issue | journal name or abbreviation | <web address> | date accessed

But most articles you will be citing will be available in print, so it is only rarely that you would need to use the online journal citation format.

An explanation about brackets: use square brackets for the year of publication if it identifies the volume. Use round brackets if there is a separate volume number.  In the example above, the article is from the Modern Law Review which has separate volume numbers, so round brackets have been used.


A website citation should be as follows:

author, | ‘title’ | (title of website, date of article) | <URL> | date you accessed the website

e.g. Sarah Cole, 'Virtual Friend Fires Employee' (Naked Law, 1 May 2009) <> accessed 19 November 2009

If there is no author identified, begin the citation with the title. If there is no date of publication on the website, give only the date of access. 

Other secondary sources

The OSCOLA guide (PDF, 437 KB) provides examples for citing the following materials: Hansard and parliamentary reports, Command papers, Law Commission reports, European Commission documents, conference papers, theses, blogs, newspaper articles, interviews and personal communications (see pages 33-43).

The OSCOLA FAQs include guidance on how to cite sources not referred to in the OSCOLA guide, including e-books, YouTube, podcasts, and speeches.

If what you want to cite is not contained in the preceding list, for example webinars or tweets, don't worry! The OSCOLA guide sets out some general principles which you can follow for secondary sources at page 39.