Citation of reference books

OSCOLA Back to basics: books

posted in: Law, OSCOLA | 0

The citation of books using OSCOLA style

First question: what is a book? You might think that seems a little obvious, but in OSCOLA terms a book is any publication that has an ISBN number. This is an International Standard Book Number, a ten or thirteen digit number that identifies a specific book. ISBN numbers have been in use since the 1970s and most books carry one, although you may come across some older books that do not have a classification number.

When using the OSCOLA citation there are basically four types of books to consider: authored books, edited or translated books, contributions to edited books ie chapters in a book written or compiled by someone else, and electronic books. The basic citation layout is fairly simple: first, the author details, second, the title in italics, and finally, everything else, all the publication information, is in brackets. Remember, there’s an important difference in the layout of a book citation between bibliographies and footnotes, and both examples are set out here.

Books in footnotes

Authored books

First name | last name |comma |title in italics | (bracket: edition/comma/ publisher name/ year) full stop
Example: Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law (Penguin 2011).

Contributions to Edited books

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

Example: Scott J Shapiro, ‘The Difference That Rules Make’ in Brian Bix (ed), Analyzing Law: New Essays in Legal Theory (Clarendon Press 1998).

Edited and translated books

Author first name | author last name |comma |title in italics | (bracket: first name or initials of editor/ last name of editor/ed/comma/edition/comma/publisher name/ year) full stop

Example: Glanville Williams, Learning the Law (ATH Smith ed, 16th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2016).

Electronic books

Remember, you only need to cite an electronic source if it is not available in hard copy. Otherwise just cite the book as the examples above. If the book is only available online, then in addition to the usual citation information add:

<http://www. website url details in angled brackets .com> accessed 19 June 2017.

Books in bibliographies

Authored books

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

Example: Bingham T, The Rule of Law (Penguin 2011).

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)

Example: Shapiro SJ, ‘The Difference That Rules Make’ in Bix B (ed), Analyzing Law: New Essays in Legal Theory (Clarendon Press 1998)

Edited and translated books

Author last name | author initial |comma |title in italics | (bracket: last name of editor/initials of editor/ed/comma/edition/comma/publisher name/ year) full stop

Example: Williams G, Learning the Law (Smith ATH ed, 16th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2016)

Electronic or online books

Remember, you only need to cite an electronic source if it is not available in hard copy (see OSCOLA 4th edn guide pg 33). Otherwise just cite the book as the examples above. If the book is only available online, then in addition to the usual citation information add:

<http://www. website url details in angled brackets .com> accessed 19 June 2017

SUMMARY

  • Remember: in a bibliography the author details are styled differently to footnotes
  • Bibliography citation does not have a full stop at the end
  • Book title in always italics
  • All other titles eg the chapter titles in single quote marks
  • Capitalise the first letter of major words in the title (not words such as and, for, of) 

    I hope you’re finding the OSCOLA Back to Basics series helpful, if you need any help with proofreading or editing your legal writing, please contact me.

    Citation of reference books
    Building the bibliography
Share