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Oxford referencing is a style that uses a bibliography (a list of references) and footnotes. The prestigious University of Oxford developed Oxford referencing style. These guidelines more comprehensive compared to those of other writing styles. Oxford style provides more detailed guidance to follow when writing. Its main features are:

  • In-text citations
  • Footnotes
  • Endnotes
  • Annotated bibliography

The features above are the reason why people call this style as documentary-note referencing style. Traditionally, it was for humanities subjects. In academic writing, writers mostly use Oxford referencing for History, Law, and Philosophy papers.

The footnote/bibliography method requires you to apply notes throughout your paper and a bibliography at its end.

Creating footnotes

Footnotes also called ‘notes’ are a reference to an individual source of information. You place a note at the bottom (foot) of a page. For footnote referencing, you show reference by:

  • Putting a superscripted number that directly follows the source material. The number is called a note identifier. It sits just above the line of your text looking like a1.
  • Follow it up by citing the source of your information at the foot of the page. You note identifier also called in-text citation should be the same number as the footnote at the bottom of the page. It helps the readers to know the source of note identifier that they are referring to by casting their eyes down the page.
  • Put your note identifiers and footnotes in a chronological and numerical order. The first should be 1, followed by 2 and so on.

Second and consequent footnotes

For the second and other references to the same source, you do not need to include many details as in the first note. You just use minimum information that clearly indicates the text that you are referring.

For a single author: Provide all necessary information in your first footnote. If you refer to this source again, give the name of the author, the title, publisher, year of publication and page number. For example:

1.K Reid, Higher Education for Hire?, Oxford Press, Oxford, 2006, p. 90.
2 Reid, P.100.
If you refer to two or more work by one author in the text, include a title. For Example:
1K Reid, Higher Education, Oxford Press, Oxford, 1999, p. 222.
2K, Reid, Life in College, Oxford Press, Oxford, 2009, p. 100.
3K, Reid, Life in College, p. 150.
Write subsequent references in the same way. Use pp for the information you got from multiple pages e.g. pp. 100-103.

Abbreviating subsequent footnotes

You can shorten second and other references with Latin abbreviations in these ways:
Ibid= same as the last entry
Use it when you have two references from the same source in a row.
Op.cit. to indicate previously cited
Use op.cit when you have already provided the full details of a source in your earlier note. When you use op.cit, you still provide information such as the name of the author to make your source clear. Write the above abbreviations in lower case even if when they at the start of a note. Examples:
10 K Reid, Higher Education or just Education for Hire?, Oxford Press, Oxford, 2006, p. 90.
11ibid., p. 20.
12 J.John, ‘Captain’, Oxford Press, Vol. 10. November 2015, p. 60.
13Reid,op.cit., p. 110.

Presenting Quotations

You should present your quotes in not more than 30 words in texts of related and fresh paragraphs. Present quotations of over 30 words in separate paragraphs. Indent the quotes by ½ inch from left side margin of your paper. Include a superscript following a quotation. For a third party quote, include superscripts, but it is important to cite the author and the information source.

Oxford writing style allows summarizing and paraphrasing of paragraphs. Paraphrasing will involve describing the significance of information sources in few sentences. In summary, you have to describe the whole document in a few statements. It entails highlighting the main points but only the necessary information.

Writing an Oxford Style Bibliography

For bibliography, you should include the names of authors, title, and date of the publication, publisher’s name and place of publication. List all sources you referenced in your footnotes and any other sources that informed the work that you did not necessarily paraphrase or quote. Oxford writing style uses annotated bibliography after the endnotes but before the appendix.

In the bibliography, you must briefly describe the sources that you used in your paper. This description is called annotation. An annotation shows the sources that are relevant to your paper.

Remember to include the list of sources you use when writing a paper. It is in contrast to a list of references that only consists the source of information that you cite in your paper.

  • Arrange sources in alphabetically according to the author’s family name.
  • Number the references numerically
  • Start book citations with the author’s surname, initials of first and the middle name separated by commas.
  • Write the book's full title in italics after the author’s name followed by a comma, the edition, publisher's name and the year of publication.

Format of the Oxford Paper

When writing the actual writing of your Oxford paper, you should write it in the following format.When writing the actual writing of your Oxford paper, you should write it in the following format.


Oxford requires you to include page numbers. The writer has the freedom to decide their placement provided that they will be consistent. When writing the header, use 12 or 14-point Times New Roman font. The margins along the top of the paper are two inches and one inch for the other parts. Type the paper in double-spaced except for reference page.

Cover Page

Oxford requires you to use a very particular title. Enter the title at the top of the page, skip a few lines and write the type of paper (essay, dissertation, thesis, research paper, etc.). Write the date, number of words, writer's name and your school's name.

Example of an Oxford cover page

History of America Elections
Research Paper
November 15, 2016
1000 words
Joy Short
University of Oxford

Requirements of an Oxford Paper

You must include a reference for each in-text citation and vice versa. The reference provides directions for readers to their referenced materials and also acknowledges its author(s).


Oxford relies on a bibliography and footnotes for references.

In-Text Citation

Use notes for in-text citations. You do it by clicking on your "Insert" tab the "Reference and Footnote." Your computer will add a number and similar space at the bottom of your page for you to insert a footnote. Your footnote will the same citation describes in the reference section. Insert this citation in the footnote and the reference page.


As the title page, your reference page should be totally separate from the other paper. After you completed writing the paper and reached the last part of the document, hit enter to create extra space then click "Insert" on the toolbar. Look at the drop-down menu and click "Page Break.” A new page will appear, and this is where you will record the reference list.

Oxford is different from other citation styles as it allows a writer to include works that are not necessarily referenced in their paper to appear in the bibliography. It may even suggest other articles about the same subject or other interesting related books that are a writer did not cite anywhere in the paper. It also contains those citations appearing in the paper in this style:

Differences in Citing for footnotes and bibliography


  • For works from unknown authors, begin the footnote with the title
  • Use n.d as the date for works without a date.


  • Replace authors with ‘Anon’ or ‘Anonymous’ for work without an author.
  • If you cite dateless work, use n.d where you usually write the data

You cite your sources in this format:


1A.Author, B.Author. , Title of the book, book edition number, volume number, Publisher, Place of Publishing, year, page.

If it is relevant, you add names of translators and editors after the title. Precede their names by ‘tr,' ‘ed. Or eds.’


Writer, A., Author, B., Title of the book, edition number, volume number, Publisher, Place, year.



2A. Author, Title of the book, Publisher, Place, year, Database, page and paragraph reference, accessed day month year.


Author name, A., Title of book, Publisher, Place, year, Database, page or paragraph reference, accessed day month year.


Journal Articles


3A. Author, 'Title of the article', Journal‘s Title, volume, issue, year, page.


Author A., 'Article’s Title ', Title of Journal, journal’s volume, issue, year, page range.< b /> Journal Article from an online database via the web < b /> When citing:

  • Provide page range if available.
  • Cite the date for journals without issue or volume number
  • Avoid long URLs. You can just cite the journal’s homepage URL.


4A. Author, 'Title of the article', Journal’s Title [online journal], volume, the issue, year, page/paragraph reference, access day month year.


Author, A., 'Title of the article', Title of the Journal [online journal], volume, issue, the year, page range, day month year accessed.

Journal Article accessed Via Electronic Database

Place the online database after the database name. You can skip a URL of a widely-known database. Footnote

5A. Author, ' Article Title’, Title of the Journal, volume, the issue, year, page/paragraph reference, Database [online database], access day month year.

Provide paragraph references for articles without pages.


Author, A., 'Title of article', Journal Title, volume, issue, the year, page range, the Database [online database], accessed day month year.

Newspaper Article-Print


6A. Author, 'Title of article', Title of the Newspaper, Title of Newspaper Section, day month year, page. Bibliography

Author, A., ‘Article Title’, Title of Newspaper, Title of Newspaper Section, day month year, page range. Newspaper article from online database


7 A. Author, 'Title of the article', Title of Newspaper, Title of Newspaper Section, day month year, the paragraph reference, access day month year.


Author, A., 'Title of the article', Title of Newspaper, Title of Newspaper Section, day month year, accessed day month year. Newspaper article Via Electronic database

  • Place [online database] after database name.
  • A URL for a popular database is not necessary.


8A. Author, 'Title of the article', Name of Newspaper, the day month year, page, Database [online database], access day month year. Bibliography

Author, A., ‘Article title’, Newspaper Title, Day Month Year, Page (range), Database[online database], access day month year.


Copyright protects pictures of other people. If you use a drawing, photograph or picture, state the owner in your reference list.

For example

Len, Anders. City in the night [photography]. 2016. http:www.oxfordrefrencingguide.uk/cityinthenight/(Accessed 2016-11-11) For work in print whereby the illustrator and the author are different people, you should state it. If you can, provide the page of this illustration.

Informal sources

You can also get your sources for an Oxford paper from informal sources such as e-mails, letters, phone calls and conversations. For example:

Joanne, A. Student at Oxford University. Interview 2016-11-11.

Informant 1: Grammar School, Oxford. 6 boys and 8 girls, individual interviews 2016-11-11.

Joan, S; Professor at the department of Literature, Oxford University. Oxford, Lecture 2016-11-15.

A reference to a personal conversation must have much detail as possible. It should include the name, position/profession, detail of the conversation and date. Seek permission before quoting a source and retain a copy for reference. If you promise anonymity to the source, keep your word. Note that personal communication it is not a requirement to have a conversation in the reference list especially when the sources are not traceable. In such cases, you provide it just in the footnotes.

There are many other traditional and modern sources of information for an Oxford paper. The most important thing is for you to cite the references in the proper format for footnote and bibliography.

If your work is long with multiple sections such as dissertation or thesis, you can restart numbering when you begin each chapter or at a major section break. It makes reading simpler.

See our Academic paper writing service page.