How to write an essay in Oxford Format

Oxford format is usually referred to as the documentary-note system. This style is seldom used in the United States, as schools usually request that students use MLA or APA formats. Oxford format uses a three occurrence format, similar to Turabian format. A citation appears in the body, a footnote appears at the bottom of each page where a citation occurs, and a bibliography lists all works cited.

A citation appears with a superscript number3. A footnote has to appear on the same page, and includes the number of the citation. In the footnote, the authors name appears first, after the number, but in this style, no whole first names are used, only initials. The author’s initials appear first, with no periods, followed by the author’s last name. Then the title of the book comes, with only the first word capitalized, followed by the publisher, city, year, and page numbers, all comma-separated.

3. H Hesse, Demian: the story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth, Harper & Row, New York, 1965.

The superscript numbers keep increasing, even on new pages. If the same work is cited more than once in succession, then the abbreviation ‘ibid.’ may be used. So if the next citation after number 3 listed above refers to the same book, you would see: ‘4. Ibid.’ If the same work is referenced, but with different page numbers, you would see: ‘4. Ibid. pp. 35-38.’ ‘Ibid’ may only be used for the second citation of the same book in a row. If number 4 was a different book, and number 5 was Demian, then citation number 5 would have to look exactly like number 3 above.

The bibliography lists all works cited in the footnotes, except that they are listed alphabetically. Also, last names appear before the initials. Bibliography entries are also comma-separated.

Internet sites use the following format, and you may omit any information that you do not know, as long as the information can lead the reader to the exact same site. An example would be:

5. Internet Movie Database, Shaft, 1971, retrieved 16 May 2009,

Where possible, a web article citation should include the author’s name. If that is not possible, list the sponsoring website first followed by that article name. If you do not know the name of the website, often, the information can be found at the bottom of the main page, or under a link called ‘about us’ or ‘about our site.’

              Be warned: Oxford Format is seldom seen in the United States these days, although I personally like this style. The rules are easy to follow and papers using this style look very professional.