Oscola reference guide

OSCOLA Back to basics: Footnote shortcuts

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In the previous blog post I outlined the basics of formatting OSCOLA footnotes. This post takes a look at the various shortened forms you can use for subsequent citations of the same information.

First – a note about ibid

Ibid is an abbreviation of the Latin word ibidem which means ‘in the same place’. It is used in footnotes or endnotes to repeat a citation of the immediately preceding note. The key point is that it refers to the previous footnote, not one elsewhere on the same page or another page. The OSCOLA guide is not keen on what it calls ‘Latin gadgets’, except for ‘ibid’, so avoid using op cit., supra, cf, and the like. If you’re wondering what these are, there’s a blog post all about Latin reference terms here. Note: ibid always has a small case ‘i’ – Word does not like this, and may try to overrule you! The footnote has to end with a full stop, so when you type ibid with a small case i followed by a full stop, watch out. Word has a sneaky way of quickly changing the small i to a capital.

Citation shortcuts

The first time that you cite a reference you need to write it out in full, following the prescribed format. The next time it crops up there are various short forms that you can use, depending on the source material you’re citing.

• Case law: if you are repeating the citation of a legal case, then you can just cite the case name, in italic, no need for the date or the law report information, and the number of the previous footnote. For example, ¹Donoghue v Stevenson (n 55).

• Statutes: repetitions of legislation can be shortened to the Act or regulation’s short title or abbreviation. For example, the Human Rights Act 1998 can become, ²HRA 1998.

• Books and journals: you just need to cite the author’s last name, the number of the footnote containing the full citation and the page number of this reference. For example, ³Bingham (n 56) 27. If the author has more than one work cited in your dissertation then also cite the title. For example, ³Bingham, The Rule of Law (n 56) 27.

I hope these tips for formatting OSCOLA footnotes are helpful, in the next blog post I’ll move on to looking at assembling a bibliography. Don’t forget to download your free creative commons pdf guide to the fourth edition. It’s essential to have a copy at your side when preparing or checking footnotes and references, or if the thought of formatting a few hundred footnotes is too daunting, send me an enquiry. I’m always happy to check the layout of OSCOLA footnotes when proofreading a law thesis or dissertation.

Oscola reference guide
OSCOLA referencing footnote shortcuts
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