Legal citation

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For Wikipedia's template for case citation in the U.S.A., see {{Template:Cite court}}.

Legal citation is the practice of crediting and referring to authoritative documents and sources. The most common sources of authority cited are court decisions (cases), statutes, regulations, government documents, treaties, and scholarly writing.


Typically, a proper legal citation will inform the reader about a source's authority, how strongly it supports the writer's proposition, its age, and other, relevant information. This is an example citation to a United States Supreme Court court case:

  Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 480 (1965). 

This citation gives helpful information about the cited authority to the reader.

Concurring and dissenting opinions are also published alongside the Court's opinion. For example, to cite to the opinion in which Justices Stewart and Black dissent, the citation would appear as the following:

  Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 527 (1965) (Stewart & Black, JJ., dissenting). 

This citation is very similar to the citation to the Court's opinion. The two key differences are the pin cite, page 527 here, and the addition of the dissenting justices' names in a parenthetical following the date of the case.

Of course, legal citation in general and case citation in particular can become much more complicated.

Legal citation analysis[edit]

During a legal proceeding, a 'legal citation analysis' - i.e. using citation analysis technique for analyzing legal documents - facilitates the better understanding of the inter-related regulatory compliance documents by the exploration the citations that connect provisions to other provisions within the same document or between different documents. Legal citation analysis uses a citation graph extracted from a regulatory document, which could supplement E-discovery - a process that leverages on technological innovations in big data analytics.[1][2][3][4]

Citation by country[edit]

Some countries have a de facto citation standard that has been adopted by most of the country's institutions.

Australian legal citation usually follows the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (commonly known as AGLC)
Canadian legal citation usually follows the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (commonly called the McGill Guide)
German legal citation
Dutch legal citation follows the Leidraad voor juridische auteurs[5] (commonly known as Leidraad)
United Kingdom
The Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (commonly known as OSCOLA) is the modern authority on citation of United Kingdom legislation. Guidance for UK government drafters is provided in Statutory Instrument Practice.[6]

U. S. legal citation follows one of:

A number of U.S. states have adopted individual public domain citations standards.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Mohammad Hamdaqa and A. Hamou-Lhadj, "Citation Analysis: An Approach for Facilitating the Understanding and the Analysis of Regulatory Compliance Documents", In Proc. of the 6th International Conference on Information Technology, Las Vegas, USA
  3. ^ "E-Discovery Special Report: The Rising Tide of Nonlinear Review". Hudson Global. Retrieved 1 July 2012.  by Cat Casey and Alejandra Perez
  4. ^ "What Technology-Assisted Electronic Discovery Teaches Us About The Role Of Humans In Technology - Re-Humanizing Technology-Assisted Review". Forbes. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Kluwer - Leidraad". Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  6. ^ "Statutory Instrument Practice – 4th edition". OPSI website. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. November 2006. pp. 23–24 (s. 2.7) and 25–28 (s. 2.11). Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  7. ^ "Universal Citation.". Retrieved 2008-08-07. 

External links[edit]