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How Do I: Do Legal Research?: Legal Citations

How to search for legal cases and materials, without being a lawyer..

Citation formats

Citations in legal writing

  • identify the document and document part to which the writer is referring,
  • provide the reader with sufficient information to find the document or document part in the sources the reader has available (which may or may not be the same sources as those used by the writer), and
  • furnish important additional information about the referenced material and its connection to the writer's argument to assist readers in deciding whether or not to pursue the reference.
           (from Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2014) by Peter W. Martin, §1-200. Purposes of Legal Citation)

There are two main styles used in legal writing: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation published and distributed by the Harvard Law Review Association; and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation published by the Association of Legal Writing Directors. If you are writing for a non-legal audience, and using the APA/MLA/Chicago/Turabian citation styles, see the examples given on the "Citation of..." page for each type of law.


ALWD Guide