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Oxford Referencing Basics

The Oxford Style of Referencing: Understand the Basics of the Oxford System 

Citing Sources in Footnotes

Every source of information including quotations and/or ideas borrowed from other places should be acknowledged in a text.

When using the Oxford referencing style, you should insert a superscripted number in any part of an essay where the work of someone else is used or cited. This same superscript number should then be placed at the end of the page where it appears within the text along with a full description of the source. Details should include the page number of the work where the reference can be found (please see fictional examples below). The numbering of footnotes should begin with number     and carry on in sequential order for the remainder of the paper. Please note there should be a line at the page end to separate essay text and footnote(s).

Fictional Example of Footnotes 

… was not the first political analyst to notice this unusual link. As Dr. John Hinds notes of Garvey he ‘turned to the new, youthful and radical political party for ideas and inspiration.1 Yet early-day reports indicate that inexperience can mean a lack of discipline and loss of focus.In the early years the public were divided about the party’s policies and, ultimately, remained faithful to the old school,3 but has now begun to swing again towards the new ideology.4


J. Hinds, ‘The Political Process: Mark Garvey, the Complexities of Modern Politics’, American Political History Journal, vol. 45, no. 4, 2012, p. 285.
C. Kennedy and L. Grimes, Staying Focused in Politics: An Analysis of US Politics, New York, The Parliamentary Press, 2009, p. 6.
Hinds, ‘Choosing Sides’, p. 233.
Kennedy and Grimes, Staying Focused in Politics, p. 21.

NB: These days, the use of abbreviated Latin terms is not popular in the Oxford style i.e. terms like ‘op. cit.’ and ‘ibid.’ Where a writer often cites one particular work, they should provide full information about that work in the first footnote. However, in subsequent notes, the short version for author’s name, abbreviated version of title (e.g., without subtitle), and page number(s) is sufficient. Notice the short format in the example footnotes numbered 3 and 4 above. It is important to always add full information about cited works in a paper’s reference list. If you are instructed by a lecturer or course supervisor to use Latin terms (i.e. in abbreviated form), you will find explanations for these in various online guides or the experts at BestCustomPapers.com can advise.

Reference Lists

In every case, reference lists should begin on a new page at the end of a paper with the title ‘Reference List’ at the top. From there, all details from the paper’s footnotes should be included and presented in alphabetical order (from A to Z) by author surnames. Please check the sample ‘Reference List’ on BestCustomPapers.com’s website for more information. People often use the titles ‘Reference List’ and ‘Bibliography’ in an interchangeable way. Nevertheless, the entries in reference lists are only those used in a paper while entries in a bibliography should include every source consulted or used in the preparation of a paper. Make sure you ask your tutor or lecturer whether they require a reference list or bibliography. Other notable points are:

  • In footnotes, the first name of the author comes before last name, e.g., T. Summers, while the last name precedes the first name in reference lists, e.g., Summers, T.
  • Where there is no known author for a particular work, the first meaningful word from the work’s title should be used (e.g., do not use “a” or “the”) and listed alphabetically.  
  • The complete range of pages (i.e. pp. 216- 270) from a chapter or article (books and journals respectively) should appear in a reference list. It is not necessary to include page numbers for full books in a reference list. 
  • Where multiple works by one author are cited, these should be presented in date order, starting with the earliest date. Where the year of publication is the same, differentiate the works by adding a letter in lowercase to the year, for example, 1971a, 1972b.
  • Please refer to the ‘Referencing Formats’ option on BestCustomPapers.com’s website for additional examples of how to cite different work formats in a reference list.    

NB: Some schools or professors ask that reference lists are divided into the different types of sources i.e. primary and secondary.  

Using Quotes in the Oxford Style

Where direct quotes do not exceed 30 (thirty) words, these can be included in an essay’s main body text within single quotation marks and immediately followed by a superscripted number linking them to an end-of-page footnote. Fictional example: … this is very obvious. As Thomas Langley states ‘… by and large, rainwear is considered any apparel that keeps the rain out’.1

Where direct quotes equal or exceed 30 (thirty) words in length, these are placed in what are known as block quotes. When using a block quote, quotation marks are not needed. The quote should be given a new paragraph indented from the left margin by one cm. They should not be intended from the right margin. These quotes should be introduced with a “:” (colon). As a rule of thumb, block quotes should not be used excessively. And please note that superscripted numbers should be appended to short quotes. Fictional example of block quote with introduction:

Despite enjoying a lot of warm and sunny weather, rainfall is common across all parts of America. Therefore, it is essential that every wardrobe contain some rainproof clothing:   

While rainwear is not usually considered “fashionable,” it is typically required to combat wet weather conditions in the USA. At minimum, it is prudent for individuals to keep a good-quality rain-proof jacket, preferably with a hood, in their wardrobe for those rainy days. Other items such as waterproof leggings can be obtained by those who really do not like getting wet.1

Citing Secondary Source Materials i.e. how to quote a work that another writer has used as a reference

If a book or article you read contains a quotation from the work of another author and you want to use it, these are known as secondary sources or citations. Footnotes should include information about both pieces of work as per the following fictional example:

11 J. Jones, British Architecture, New York, NY, Blake Books, 2010, cited in P. Sinclair, Italian Renaissance Influences, Oxford, Goodman and Goodman, 2012, p. 31. 

The reference list, however, should only show the source where the information was found. Fictional example:  

Sinclair, P., Italian Renaissance Influences, Oxford, Goodman and Goodman, 2012.

NB: The citing of secondary source materials should be used sparingly. It is best to find the original information source of any work you read about. This is sometimes impossible, however, since a work could be out of print or not available in the English language or through normal channels.   



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