Oxford Referencing: Getting started with Oxford referencing

The Footnote Citation

All sources of information such as quotes or borrowed ideas must be acknowledged in your essay.

In the Oxford style a superscript number is inserted at the point in your essay where you cite another author's work. At the bottom of the same page repeat the superscript number then follow it with the full details, including the page number, of the author's work you are citing, see example below. Start your footnote numbering at 1 and continue the sequence throughout your essay. Note the line at the bottom of the page that separates the text of your essay from the footnotes.

Footnote Example:

... was by no means the first to make this classical connection. As Dr. Peter Londey says of Bean he
'turned for inspiration to the new, young radical democracy of Athens in the fifth century BC'.1 Yet an
early report of the Gallipoli landing indicated that the strain of the battle caused discipline to break
down and for many soldiers to 'lose they way'.In the intervening years public opinion has oscillated
between these two points of view, remaining steadfastly 'pro ANZAC' until the end of the 1950s,3 then
anti-war during the 1960s and 1970s, 'settling in the last decade to somewhere in the middleground'.4


P. Londey, 'A Possession Forever: Charles Bean, the Ancient Greeks, and Military Commemoration  
in Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 53, no. 3, 2007, p. 345.
M. Lake and H. Reynolds, What's Wrong with ANZAC?: The Militisation of Australian History, Sydney, University of New South Wales Press, 2010, p. 8.
Londey, 'A Possession Forever', p. 352.
Lake and Reynolds, What's Wrong with ANZAC?, p. 38.

Please Note: It is now not common practice to use Latin abbreviations such as ibid. and op. cit. in Oxford. If you are frequently citing a particular work in your essay, give the full details of the work in your first footnote and then in subsequent footnotes for this work use the shortened format of: author surname, abbreviated title (i.e. no subtitle), and the page number. See footnotes 3 and 4 in the example above for the shortened footnote format. Always include the full details of the work in your Reference List. 

The Reference List

Your Reference List should be located on a separate page at the end of your essay and titled: Reference List. It should include the details of all your footnotes, arranged alphabetically A-Z by author surname, click on the 'Sample Reference List' tab above for more details. The terms ‘Bibliography’ and ‘Reference List’ are often used interchangeably, however a Reference List only includes items you have referenced in your assignment whereas a Bibliography also includes items used to prepare your assignment. Check with your lecturer or tutor which one they require. Other points to note:

  • In your footnotes, the author’s given name precedes the surname i.e. P. Grimshaw, while in the Reference List the surname comes first i.e. Grimshaw, P.,
  • If the work has no author use the first substantive word of the title (not The or A) to insert it into the alphabetical sequence.
  • In the Reference List include the full page range of a journal article or book chapter, e.g. pp. 165-217. Page numbers are not required for entire books in the Reference List.
  • If you have cited more than one work by the same author, you should arrange them by date with the earliest first. If the dates are the same add a lower case letter after the date to differentiate between two such publications, e.g. 1996a, 1996b. See 'Flannery' in the 'Sample Reference List'. Use this convention in your footnotes as well.
  • For examples of citing different formats of works in your Reference List click on the Reference Formats tab above. 

Please Note: Some teaching staff require your Reference List to be divided into Primary and Secondary Sources. Click on the Sample Reference List tab above for more details.

How to use quotes in Oxford

Direct quotes under 30 words are included in the body of your essay enclosed in single inverted commas and followed immediately with a superscript number that refers to a footnote at the bottom of your page, e.g.

In recent years this has become more apparent. As Jennifer Craik notes 'at best, an Australian sense of style is regarded as anything that is practical, informal and casual'.1


If a direct quote is 30 words or more it is called a block quote. For block quotes, omit the quotation marks, start the quote as a new paragraph on a new line and indent the whole quote 1 cm from the left-hand margin of the page. Don't indent from the right hand margin. Introduce the quote with a colon. As a rule block quotes should be used sparingly in your essay. As for a short quote, a superscript number is inserted immediately after the quote, e.g.

The Australian cultural renaissance of the post-war era is well documented but it is debatable whether the concept of an Australian fashion identity has permeated beyond our shores: 

The idea of "fashion" as being a characteristic of Australian culture is frequently regarded as a non sequitur. Fashion is seen as belonging to far-flung cosmopolitan sites elsewhere while Australia is a far-flung site cut off from the trappings of civilization. Equally, Australia has long been regarded as being cut off from the "finer things" of civility, fashion,and good taste. At best, an Australian sense of style is regarded as anything that is practical, informal, and casual—T-shirts, practical footwear, moleskin trousers, and wide-brim hats; as an outfit thrown together without much thought.1

Secondary Sources: or what if I want to reference a quote that someone else has referenced?

If you read an article or book that includes a quote from another author's work that you want to cite, this is called a Secondary Source or Secondary Citation. For quotes from Secondary Sources include the details of both works in your footnote, as below.

10 R. Ago, Gusto for Things, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2013, cited in D. Biow, On the Importance of Being an Individual in Renaissance Italy, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015, p. 220. 

However, in your Reference List only include the source where you found the information, e.g.

        Reference List

         Biow, D., On the Importance of Being an Individual in Renaissance Italy, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

Note: use this method of quoting Secondary Sources sparingly. You should always try to locate the original source of information which is quoted in a work which you have read. However, this is not always possible as sometimes the original work is out of print, unavailable through your usual sources or not available in English.

ibid & op. cit.

Please Note: The VU Oxford Style format for footnotes as outlined in the 'Footnote Citation' box on this page does not use ibid & op. cit.