• 5-minute read
  • 23rd June 2019

Oxford Referencing – Citing a Book

You need two things when citing a book in the Oxford referencing system: a footnote citation and an entry in a bibliography. The exact format for this can vary, so make sure to check your style guide if you have one. But if all you need is a clear, simple way of referencing sources in your written work, then you can follow our guidelines below next time you cite a book.

Citing a Book in Footnotes

To cite a book, you’ll first need to add a superscript number in the main text:

Citations usually go after end punctuation, like this.1

These superscript numbers point to footnotes at the bottom of a page. This is where you provide source information. And the first time you cite a book, you will need to use the following format:

n. Author Initial(s). Surname, Book Title, publisher, place of publication, year, page number(s).

The page numbers here refer to the specific section cited. Using this format, then, you should end up with a footnote that looks something like this:

1. H. Kane, Discovering Rome, Penguin Roundhouse, London, 2002, p. 10.

When referencing a book with two or three authors, meanwhile, use “&” to separate the last two:

2. J. Jones, L. Larkin & W. Ellis, How to Beat the System, Harper Collins, New York, 2004, p. 16.

And if a book has four or more authors, use “et al.”  – meaning “and others” – after the first named author rather than writing each author name out in full:

3. I. King et al., The Human Mind, Continuum, London, 2010, p. 3.

After citing a book for the first time, you can use a shorter footnote format for repeat citations. We will look at how this works below.

Repeat Citations: Latin Abbreviations

Most versions of Oxford referencing use a set of Latin abbreviations for repeat citations. Typically, this includes the following:

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  • Ibid. (meaning “in the same place”). You can use this when citing a source more than once in a row. If you’re citing a different page number, remember to include this in the citation.
  • Loc. cit. (short for loco citato, or “in the place cited”). You can use this alongside the author’s surname for non-consecutive citations of the same page of a source. If you have cited more than one work by that author, you may also need to include a shortened title.
  • Op. cit. (short for opere citato, meaning “in the work cited”). Similar to “loc. cit.” but used when citing a different page of a previously cited work.

We can see how this works in practice with the repeat citations below:

4. P. Walker, London Fields: A Guide for the Uninitiated, Penguin Roundhouse, London, 2002, p. 10.
5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. T. Williams, Going the Distance, Harper Collins, New York, 2010, p. 34.
7. Walker, op. cit., p. 16.

Here, the Walker source is cited in footnotes 4, 5 and 7. We use “ibid.” for footnote five as it comes immediately after the initial citation, but we give a new page number because we’re citing a different part of the book. And in footnote 7 we use “op. cit.” because we’re citing a different part of the Walker book after citing a different source, making it a non-consecutive citation.

Other Shortened Citations

If your version of Oxford referencing does not use the Latin abbreviations above, you will still need to shorten repeat citations. Usually, this means citing just the author’s surname and a page number. If you are citing more than one source by the same author, however, you should also provide a shortened version of the book’s title in repeat citations. For instance:

4. P. Walker, London Fields: A Guide for the Uninitiated, Penguin Roundhouse, London, 2002, p. 10.
5. T. Williams, Going the Distance, Harper Collins, New York, 2010, p. 34.
6. P. Walker, Urban Rambling, Penguin Roundhouse, London, 2010, p. 211.
7. Walker, London Fields, p. 10.
8. Williams, p. 35.

Here, we have two sources by Walker and one by Williams. As such, when we cite London Fields a second time, we include the shortened title to show which source we’re referencing. But when we cite Williams for a second time in footnote 8, we only give his surname and a page number.

The Reference List

Finally, with Oxford referencing, every source you cite in the main text should also appear in a reference list. The format for a book here is similar to the first footnote except for two things:

  1. You should give the author’s surname before the initial. This is so you can list the sources in your document alphabetically by author surname.
  2. You do not need to give page numbers for a book in the reference list.

As such, the basic format for a book in an Oxford reference list is:

Surname, Initial(s), Book Title, publisher, place of publication, year.

And in practice, this would look something like this:

Kane, H., Discovering Rome, Penguin Roundhouse, London, 2002.

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