Further Instructions for Police Law

Tip! Authors writing for our Police list should use these instructions alongside the main Instructions for Authors. Please be advised that any style points listed in this document override the main document where a conflict occurs.

General style points for legal texts:


You may wish to include a date on your preface and/or a statement showing when the Law was updated.

The Law is stated as on 1 July 2011


In legal works, full points should not be used for acronyms and abbreviations.

eg not e.g


Law titles do not usually contain artwork, please consult your OUP Editor if you wish to include any artwork (this includes photos, line drawings, graphs, maps.)

Presentation and style for police titles

Titles on the police list are often intended for day-to-day use by practising members of the police force, and so the presentation and writing style differs from the style used in an academic or practitioner law title. The following guidelines outlines the key-points regarding police style and important points you should consider when writing.

Tip! If your title will be in the Clarendon Studies in Criminology series, or if your book is of a more academic nature, please refer to the standard academic law guidelines, as these are more applicable to your title.

Sample material

Before you start writing, your OUP Editor may send you some sample material from another book in the series, consisting of the script and the finished pages, so that you can see how to present your work and how it will look in published form.

While you are writing, your OUP Editor will ask you to deliver three sample chapters of your book (see below for more detail on this); peer reviewers will be asked to read this material and comment on the content.

Target audience

Readers want practical information, clearly presented, and simple to locate. You can help readers to retrieve information from the text by the way you construct it:

  • Use a clear and logical structure for the title as a whole.
  • Keep chapters short and self-contained—between 15 and 30 double-spaced A4 pages. If they are longer, consider whether they could successfully be subdivided.
  • Use an introduction and conclusion or a summary section in each chapter to account for the approach taken and the key points discussed.
  • Use a large number of succinct headings (at least one per page on average), following a clear and consistent hierarchy (see also ‘Headings’), and list them in a table of contents at the top of each chapter. (If this structure is not appropriate for your title, please consult your OUP Editor).
  • Use numbered lists, bullet points, checklists, flow diagrams, examples, scenario boxes, and other features (see ‘Textual features’) to make the material easier to absorb.
  • Keep paragraphs short—ideally no more than 15 lines—and deal with one idea or issue in each paragraph.
  • Do not bury key points in the middle of paragraphs.
  • Use short, clear sentences.
  • Avoid cross-referring to discussion elsewhere if the point can be effectively and succinctly restated.
  • When you need to cross-refer, do so accurately to the appropriate heading, and make as clear as possible what the reader can expect to find on following up the reference.
  • Do not cross-refer to citations or references elsewhere in the title: instead, repeat them wherever they are required.

Tip! It might be helpful to look at similar or related published books for ideas on layout and approach. Your OUP Editor can recommend relevant books and in some cases provide you with examples.


Unless otherwise agreed with your OUP Editor, you should use the following method for structuring and numbering headings, which is standard for our Police titles. If you believe that your title needs a different structure, please discuss this with your OUP Editor before starting to write.

Police titles use chapter headings and three levels of subheading, which you should style as follows:
1 Chapter Title
1.1 Level 1 heading (major subdivision within the chapter)
1.1.1 Level 2 heading (main subsection of a Level 1 heading section)
Level 3 (minor heading, unnumbered)

Notes and references

For more practical texts, footnotes should not be used: they are unsuitable and they may put off target readers. If you wish to include references in the text, please use one of the following methods:

an author–date (Harvard style) reference in the text (for example: ‘Allan, 2005’) with a full citation given in a list of references at the end of the title (see Reference Styles for more information)

a boxed feature at the end of each chapter which gives key references and provides a short commentary (ask your editor for an example)

If you believe that your title is an exception to the series style and that footnotes are essential, please discuss this with your OUP Editor before starting work.

Textual features

We encourage authors to include a broad range of features to draw attention to key points and to break up the text so that readers can easily find the information they want. Please discuss textual features in detail with your OUP Editor before starting work, to ensure that the ones you plan to use are appropriate for the target readers of the title.

Tip! Once you have selected the features you wish to use, use them consistently throughout the text, following the same pattern of features in each chapter and / or section.