Answered By: Lisa Hawksworth
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2017     Views: 74

Statutes are divided into parts, sections, subsections, paragraphs and subparagraphs. In addition, the main text of the statute may be supplemented by schedules, which are divided into paragraphs and subparagraphs. In your work, you can use abbreviations to refer to specific sections of legislation. The abbreviations to use are listed below:

part/parts - pt/pts

section/sections - s/ss

subsection/subsections - sub-s/sub-ss

paragraph/paragraphs - para/paras

subparagraph/subparagraphs - subpara/subparas

schedule/schedules - sch/schs


When citing part of an Act in a footnote, insert a comma after the year, and a space but no full stop, between the abbreviation and the initial number, letter or opening bracket. For example:

Consumer Protection Act 1987, s 2.


Use the full form at the beginning of a sentence (e.g. ‘schedule’ or ‘section’), or when referring to a part of a statute without repeating the name of the Act. Elsewhere in the text, either form can be used, although you would usually use the abbreviation when referring to subsections or paragraphs. Use the short form in any footnotes.


If you are specifying a paragraph or subsection as part of a section, use just the abbreviation for the section. For example, paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 15 of the Human Rights Act 1998 is expressed as:

Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b).


There are several ways in which to refer to sections of legislation within the text of your work. For example:

… section 5(1)(a) of the Race Relations Act 1976… OR … the Race Relations Act 1976, s 5(1)(a) .

… by virtue of section 11(1A) of the Limitation Act 1980…

Sub-section (1) does not apply to…

… as subs-s (3) shows …


In your footnotes:

16Criminal Attempts Act 1981, ss 1(1) and 4(3).

17Sexual Offences Act 2003, s 1(1)(c).


See the OSCOLA referencing page for more guidance.


Please note you should always refer to any departmental/school guidelines you’ve been given.

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