Oscola footnotes

Ten tips for your OSCOLA-style law writing

posted in: academic editing | 0

Law essays, dissertations and theses

Friends often wonder why I never go on holiday in July and August. It’s not because I want to avoid the crowds, although that is a benefit, it’s because the summer is the busiest time for academic and student proofreading. Whilst some people may still have the old-fashioned image of students lazing away long summer afternoons idly flicking through the pages of a thick tome, or punting along a shady river, this is far from reality, except in some BBC 1930s reproduction. July and August sees the deadline for many students to submit the dissertations and theses they have been working on all year, and longer.

OSCOLA style

So, whilst I am busy juggling different projects to meet client deadlines and learning some new legal points, I thought I would share a few common mistakes or points to watch out for that I have noticed this week. These ten top tips are particularly relevant to those of you writing law dissertations and using the OSCOLA citation and style format. It’s a very simple format, but many people seem to have difficulty getting to grips with it – perhaps because it is so different from the other citation systems we are used to. Earlier in the year I blogged about some specific points of OSCOLA format, especially the tricky differences between footnotes and bibliography formatting.

Roundup of ten tips for OSCOLA style

  • The Latin abbreviations ie and eg have no punctuation. That means no full stops – weird, I know
  • Remember the difference in author name format for footnotes and bibliographies – check out this blog post for more advice
  • The footnote abbreviation ibid has a small letter i – don’t use other Latin forms like supra and op cit
  • Footnotes always end in a full stop – you’ll have trouble convincing Word about that!
  • Check your formatting – have you used the same fonts for each heading style? is the numbering in order? The easiest way to make sure this is correct is to use Word’s inbuilt Styles
  • Avoid tautology: don’t repeat the same information in a sentence in a different way
  • Remember it’s English Law – not ‘British Law’
  • When referring to case law ‘judgment’ has no e after the g
  • You can refer to the law as ‘the law’ or ‘Law’ – it’s fine to use either according to context
  • Watch out for over repetition of words like moreover, however, furthermore, therefore, thus, on the other hand… the list goes on, at the beginning of sentences

These are all things that the professional proofreader looks out for when checking your text. I hope that you find them useful. Now, back to work…

Oscola footnotes
Entering footnotes in Word