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A guide to referencing styles at GSM London

OSCOLA general principles

The OSCOLA referencing system uses different standards for primary and secondary sources.


  • Primary sources include domestic and foreign law cases, Acts, Statutory Instruments (SI) and Bills, International Treaties, EU Legislation and laws from foreign jurisdictions.

         primary source image

  • Secondary sources encompass books, scholarly articles, parliamentary papers, websites, newspapers and other material.


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OSCOLA does not use in-text citations like the Harvard system. Instead, it uses a footnote style with all citations appearing within the footnotes.

Only longer works, such as books and theses, require the compilation of tables for cases, legislation and other primary sources and the creation of bibliographies for secondary sources. 

The systems also uses minimal punctuation with letters and abbreviations not separated by full stops.


Tables only need be compiled for longer works and are used for primary sources. Distinct tables are created for cases and legislation with entries listed in alphabetical order, including the number of the page where the source is cited.

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Secondary sources (e.g. books or journals) should be listed in a bibliography immediately after the tables. In contrast to the conventions of writing citations in the footnote, the author's surname precedes the initial of the first name.

Bibliography image GSM pink

Citations in bibliographies differ from those in footnotes for the following referencing rules:

  1. The author's surname should precede his or her initial(s) with no comma separating them but with a comma after the final initial
  2. Only initials should be used and not forenames
  3. The titles of unattributed works should be preceded by a double em-dash (- -)
  4. Remove pin point.




Elizabeth Fisher, Risk Regulation and Administrative Constitutionalism (Hart Publishing 2007),46


Fisher E, Risk Regulation and Administrative Constitutionalism (Hart Publishing 2007)

Further rules on the use of tables and bibliographies are listed in the OSCOLA official guide

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