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The Oxford Essay Format

This guide explains how to apply the Oxford essay format in a piece of writing. Also referred to as the documentary-note system, the Oxford writing style is commonly used in subjects related to the humanities e.g. in subjects such as philosophy and history. This style prescribes the use of standard-type citations in a text’s main body with corresponding footnotes at end of pages. Additionally, annotated bibliographies are often found at the end of Oxford style papers. These pages include information about all the sources used in the main body of an essay or paper. There are three main components to the Oxford citation style i.e. source citations, endnotes and footnotes, and the paper’s bibliography.

Simplified Formatting an Essay in Oxford Style

When citing sources according to the Oxford guide to style, writers should use superscripted numbers when referring to ideas or information taken from external sources. These numbers should then correspond with footnotes at the end of the page where the source was mentioned. It is necessary to acknowledge every source that is used in the text of an essay - e.g., sources from books, journals, the Internet, and other media - and again in more detailed footnotes.

It is important to also reference any other sources and information. Any superscripted numbers you use for reference purpose are placed at the end of the sentence where the source is mentioned and not directly after the actual reference itself. When direct quotations are used, it is recommended that a superscript number is added immediately after them (where possible). 

When using Oxford referencing in text it is recommended that quotes should not be more than thirty (30) words in length. If, however, a quote is longer than this, quotation marks should not be used. Instead, the quotation should start on a new line and it should be indented approximately 1cm from the page’s left-hand margin. The Oxford referencing style differs from other styles in that it allows the writer to paraphrase or summarize any content they are referencing. Where a writer paraphrases or summarizes a piece of text, they should use a superscript number to indicate the fact that the content is borrowed. 

The Oxford essay writing style usually implies the use of endnotes and footnotes. When using footnotes (supplementary notes with superscript numbers at the end of a page) it is usual practice to separate these from the main body text with a line near the end of the page. When you refer to a source for the first time, you should provide more detailed bibliographic information in the corresponding footnote. When that source is subsequently used, there is no need to include all this information again. Instead, you can just use a shortened version. Footnotes are usually numbered in consecutive order and it is not usual to present them in the form of tables. 

Oxford Style Bibliographies

You will see from the Oxford style referencing guide that bibliographies are generally required at the end of papers written in this style. The size of a bibliography depends on the amount of source information to be recorded. In any case, it should contain information about every data source that has been used in a paper as well as any sources the writer consulted or found useful in the course of researching and preparing their paper. When creating references in this system, the order of any source information that involves using capitalization and punctuation is similar to that used in footnotes.

Most importantly, the surnames of authors should appear before their initials and entries should be arranged in alphabetic order according to surname. Bibliography entries should not be numbered. In the event a reference is repeatedly used (or appears more than at least once), there is no need to repeat the entire reference information. All that is needed is the surname of the author and any page numbers that differ from those in the first entry.  

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