Bibliography books

Don’t bungle the bibliography

posted in: OSCOLA | 0

Constructing an OSCOLA style bibliography

Problems with OSCOLA formatting usually relate to the footnotes. ‘Footnotes – little dogs yapping at the heels of the text’ (William James). However, bibliographies – that long list of all the works you’ve read (or should have read) in order to research your dissertation or thesis – cause just as much trouble. OSCOLA style has some specific rules for bibliographies and in this blog post I take a close look at books.

There are basically three types of books: authored books, edited or translated books, and contributions to edited books ie chapters in a book written, edited or compiled by someone else. A book is publication that has an ISBN number, although some older books do not have such a classification number. The citation layout is actually fairly simple: author, title and everything else, all the publication information, is in brackets.

Quick tips

The main points to note are that in the bibliography the author details are styled differently to footnotes and that the bibliography citation does not have a full stop at the end:

  • Surname first then initial, followed by a comma
  • No full stop at the end
  • Book title in italics
  • Capitalise the first letter of major words in the title (not words such as and, for, of)
  • All other titles in single quote marks, ie the chapter titles of edited books
  • No need to cite the electronic version of a book available in hard copy, even if you have read it online
  • Don’t include the chapter or page numbers that you’ve referred to in the bibliography citation (but do include them in the footnotes)


Last name |initial |comma |title in italics | (bracket: 2nd edn/comma/ publisher name/ year)

Contributions to edited books:

Chapter author’s last name | initial |comma |’title in quotes’ | in editor last name| editor initial| (ed) | comma | book title in italics |(brackets: 2nd edn/comma/ publisher/ year)

Edited and translated books:

If there is no author, then cite the editor or translator’s name as you would an author with (ed) or (tr) in brackets, otherwise put the editor or translator’s details in the publishing information

Editor’s last name | initial |(ed) | comma |title in italic | (brackets: 2nd edn/comma/ publisher/ year)
Author’s last name | initial | comma |title in italic | (brackets: Editor name initial ed/comma/edn/ comma/ publisher/ year)

Electronic or online books:

If a book is only available online then after citing the author and title in the usual way the citation should end with the website address enclosed between angled brackets then the date most recently accessed, written: accessed 17 February 2017 – note the date style for OSCOLA and that accessed is small case letters.

Last name |initial |comma |title in italics | (bracket: 2nd edn/comma/ publisher name/ year) accessed 17 February 2017

There is more detail in the 4th edition OSCOLA guidelines, but hopefully this overview demonstrates that compiling a bibliography is not as complicated as it may first appear. Next time I’ll have a look at another tricky area – citing journal articles.

Bibliography books
Citing books in a bibliography