Most legal citations consist of three parts:
Abbreviation of the name of the source
Page or section number ( § denotes section ).
For example, 163 U.S. 537 consists of the following:
163 = Volume #
U.S. = United States Reports (source publication)
537 = starting page
Example: 344 U.S. 1 cites the "Brown v. Board of Education" decision as published in the governments Supreme Court series, United States Reports.
The legal source is a "reporter" which publishes the opinions issued by a court in an ongoing series of volumes. While court cases are usually referenced by name (e.g. Roe vs. Wade), most legal materials also include a legal citation indicating where the decision is found in a specific reporter.
Citations to the same law or opinion published in different sources are called parallel citations. Many legal citations include references to the same case published in several different sources. The first cite is usually considered the official or primary cite. The subsequent cites reference additional sources published by private companies which include additional editorial features.
Example: Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113; 93 S. Ct. 705; 35 L. Ed. 2d 147)
Source Publication : Parallel Cite
United States Reports (U.S.) : 410 U.S. 113
Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.) : 93 S. Ct. 705
Lawyer's Edition (L.Ed.) : 35 L. Ed. 2d 147
Codes arrange all laws (e.g. statutes) or regulations by subject, and are cited by section (instead of page number). Section numbers are denoted by the § symbol.
34 CFR §300.300
Code of Federal Regulations
20 USC §1400
United States Code
California codes are typically cited as the code name/abbreviation followed by the sections. Sources outside of California usually add a "Cal." to the citation.
Typical format: Code name/abbreviation § #
Example: Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 10050 - 10063
Note: Sources outside of California usually add a "Cal." to the citation.
Example: Cal. Welf & Inst. Code §§ 10050 - 10063
Abbreviations: California organizes its codes by name instead of title number, such as "Education Code," "Penal Code," "Vehicle Code," and "Welfare and Institutions Code." Very frequently, code names are abbreviated.
Example: WIC §§ 10050 - 10063
|US||546 U.S. 189||U.S. Supreme Court opinions||United States Reports|
|127 S. Ct. 2738||U.S. Supreme Court opinions||Supreme Court Reports|
|22 F. 354||U.S. Appellate Court opinions||
F. Supp. 2d.
F. Supp. 3d.
|246 F. Supp. 780||U.S. District Court opinions||
|39 Cal. 4th 970||California Supreme Court opinions||
|140 P. 3d 775||State supreme court opinions - western states (including CA)||
Cal. Rptr. 2d.
|47 Cal. Rptr. 3d 467||California Supreme and Appellate Court opinions||
Cal. App. 2d.
Cal. App. 3d.
Cal. App. 4th.
|39 Cal. App. 4th 970||California Appellate Court opinions||
California Appellate Reports
|USC||42 USC § 5106||Codified statutes||United States Code|
|USCA||42 USCA § 5106||Codified statutes (with annotations)||United States Code Annotated|
|Stat.||49 Stat. 153||Statutes as written when passed into law||United States Statutes at large|
|FR||49 FR 10395||Proposed or final new regulations||Federal Register|
|CFR||8 CFR § 327.35||Codified regulations||Code of Federal Regulations|
|Educ. Code||Educ. Code § 3423||Codified Statutes||California Codes|
|Cal. Edu. Code||CAL Edu. Code § 3423||Codified Statutes with Annotations||Deering's California Codes|
|Cal. Reg. Notice Register||2003 Cal. Reg. Notice Register 685||Proposed regulations||California Regulatory Notice Register|
|CCR||8 CCR § 327.35||Codified regulations||California Code of Regulations|
|Cal. Jur.||California law by topic||California Jurisprudence|
|CJS||Federal law by topic||Corpus Juris Secundum|
|L. Rev.||Law review article||Harvard Law Review|