I am new to LaTeX and wondering if it is worth using to write up my doctorate. I am a lawyer and there is one thing – perhaps specific to lawyers – which I cannot work out if LaTeX can do. (I have looked on message boards and don’t think it’s dealt with there, but do please point me in the right direction if I’ve missed something.

For our references (at least, in my institution) we need a long title and a short title. So, for instance, I might have footnote 100 as:

Cantiare San Rocco v Clyde Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd [1924] AC 226 HL

and footnote 150 as:

Cantiare San Rocco (n 100).

So far, so good. However, suppose I wanted to move the text attached to footnote 100 so it appears after footnote 150 (say, 200). I then need footnote 150 to appear as:

Cantiare San Rocco v Clyde Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd [1924] AC 226 HL

and footnote 200 to read:

Cantiare San Rocco (n 150).

Is it possible for LaTeX to automatically update footnotes in this way? A further complication is that I really need the initial cross-reference (i.e. to footnote 100) to point to the footnote the citation is in rather than the precise footnote it is in at the moment. That is because I might move Cantiare San Rocco v Clyde Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd [1924] AC 226 HL out of footnote 100 without moving the text attached to that footnote. That is, footnote 100 will not move.

I hope that I’ve made my question clear enough, but do forgive me if I haven’t. It may be that LaTeX can’t do this – but I know that Zotero has this functionality (Endnote doesn’t) so I figure it must in principle be possible.


  • Are these references going to appear at the end of the work in a bibliography, or end notes? or just in the footnotes?
    – HTG
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 22:40
  • 1
    This is possible in LaTeX (and any other type of macro language built on top of TeX). I would say it is much, much easier to keep track of citations in this way than in (say) a word processor. The trickier part, especially for law, is designing a citation style that suits your needs. Because lawyers tend not to use *TeX, there is a dearth of legal bibliography/citation styles. However, biblatex and its closely-coupled engine biber makes complex legal citation styles possible (see, e.g., the provisional biblatex-oscola). *TeX is a front-runner for things like cross-references.
    – jon
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


Biblatex-oscola does exactly what you want. I am a layer writing my PhD in Latex and the Oscola package is brilliant. It does the cross-referencing exactly as you describe here, including short titles, as long as you keep your Bibtex document up to date with all the info you need for every case, and it will create an index that includes a table of cases and tables of legislation, separate from your bibliography of secondary sources. The only problem would be if you don't want to publish your thesis according to the Oscola citation style. I don't know if there is a Bluebook package for Latex, for instance.


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