Referencing: A How-To Guide


In this blog post, I will talk to you about a feature of legal studies that can be boring, tedious, but also very helpful and useful: referencing!

Within the legal academic community, many types of referencing styles are used. This diversity can cause confusion and uncertainty amongst students, especially when their teachers tell them to adopt whichever style they like, “as long as you are consistent”.

In order to help you adopt a legal citation style, I will provide some guidance on legal citation in this blog post. Three of the most common types of legal referencing will be discussed: OSCOLA, APA and Bluebook. I will also give you some examples and links to extra information. Of course, you do not have to strictly adopt one of these referencing styles. However, since they are renowned and widely used, it would be recommendable to adopt one of these styles or a style similar to these!


OSCOLA is an abbreviation for the Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities. OSCOLA is used by most law schools and scholars in the UK, and has been adopted internationally as well.

The OSCOLA referencing rules have been updated in various editions, the most recent being the 4th edition. You can find the online version of the 4th edition here and a quick reference guide here.

A book is cited by: Author, Title (Edition, Publisher Year) page. An example of an OSCOLA book citation is: Gareth Jones, Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (7th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2009) 55

European Union cases and legislation are respectively cited as follows:

Case C-176/03 Commission v Council [2005] ECR I-7879, paras 47-48

Council Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society [2001] OJ L167/10


APA is a more general style of referencing, originating from the United States. APA is considered to be an easy-to-use and comprehensive guide, which makes citing any source easy. Useful guides for APA referencing can be found here and here.

The core components of an APA reference are: Author’s surname, initial(s). (Date Published). Title of source. Location of publisher: publisher. Retrieved from URL (if retrieved from an internet source).

An example of a book reference would be: Mitchell, J.A., Thomson, M. & Coyne, R.P. (2017). A guide to citation. London, England: My Publisher.

A journal article or European Union case would be cited as follows:

Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Citation: Why is it so important. Mendeley Journal, 67(2), 81-95

Case T-107/04 Aluminium Silicon Mill Products GmbH v Council of the European Union [2007] ECR II-669


The Bluebook is an US format of citation, which has become an international standard of referencing. It contains rules that prescribe how to cite a variety of legal documents.

The Bluebook provides detailed rules for various types of legal sources. Thus, there is no general formula that applies to each type of legal source. Therefore, it is wise to consult a Bluebook guide when using this citation style. Examples of guides are: Mary Miles Prince – The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, and this guide.

For example, a book would be cited by: Volume number, Author’s full name, Title, Page/section/paragraph cited (Edition Year of publication). An example is:

9C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure §2552 (3d ed. 2008)

Examples of citations of European Union cases and legislation are:

Case C-89/95, Joined cases Ahlström and others v Comm’n, 1993 E.C.R. I-1307 para. 64

Commission Communication No. 528/2 of 14 January 2011, 2011 (C 11/1)


– Maurits

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