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Business Law


Citing Sources

Legal Citations

A legal citation is a reference to a legal document such as a case, statute, law review article, etc.

Most legal citations consist of the name of the document (case, statute, law review article), an abbreviation for the legal series, and the date.

The abbreviation for the legal series usually appears as a number followed by the abbreviated name of the series and ends in another number. For example: First National Maintenance v. NLRB, 452 U.S. 666 (1981) is a citation to a Supreme Court case which can be found in volume 452 of the United States Reports (U.S.) beginning on page 666.

Citing to Cases

The basic components of a case citation are: the party names, the published source where it can be found, and the year of the decision. The first of the two examples below is a Supreme Court case.  The second is from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007)

Phillips Exeter Acad. v. Howard Phillips Fund, Inc., 196 F.3d 284 (1st Cir. 1999)

Citing to Legal Documents

The most commonly used method of legal citation is the Bluebook.  

  • The Bluebook : a uniform system of citation (O'Neill Reference KF245 .B58) The Bluebook is used by most legal practictioners for proper citations to legal materials. The front cover and first page have examples of citations to cases and law review articles.
  • Cite Right: a quick guide to citations styles. (BC Community Only) Provides basic instructions and examples of citing to legal documents.  Click on the arrow next to "Citations in every format" and then select #12 - Bluebook legal citations. Also, available in print at the O'Neill Reference Desk - PN171 .F56 L55.
  • Indigo Book 2.0The Indigo Book covers legal citation for U.S. legal materials, as well as books, periodicals, and Internet and other electronic resources. For the materials that it covers, anyone using The Indigo Book will produce briefs, memoranda, law review articles, and other legal documents with citations that are compatible with the Uniform System of Citation. Although law students, scholars, and legal professionals sometimes talk about legal citation as if it is truly uniform, the fact is that legal citation has never actually been a uniform national system. Accordingly, The Indigo Book also provides insight into some of the discretionary preferences and jurisdiction-specific variations found in legal citation throughout the United States.

Citing to Law Review Articles

To cite to a law review article

The basic components of a law review article citation are:
author's name,article title (in italics), journal volume number, abbreviated journal title and article page number, followed by the year of the publication in parentheses. All of this information is available in LexisNexis Academic.

Steven G. Calabresi & Kevin H. Rhodes, The Structural Constitution: Unitary Executive, Plural Judiciary, 105 Harv. L. Rev. 1155 (1992).
To cite to a particular page in the law reivew, enter the page number after the full citation of the article.  (see example below)
Steven G. Calabresi & Kevin H. Rhodes, The Structural Constitution: Unitary Executive, Plural Judiciary, 105 Harv. L. Rev. 1155, 1158 (1992).