In Text Citations
Any time a law or a court case is mentioned in the text of a paper, include an appropriate “in-text citation” (usually in parentheses). For court cases, that includes the main party names as well as the year – e.g. (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). For laws (statutes), the preferred form includes the name of the law and the year – e.g. (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974). The APA style manual indicates anything cited in the text should also have a complete listing in the References list.
(Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965)
For court cases, in the text include party name v. party name and the year.
(Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974)
For statutes (bills passed by Congress or a state legislature and signed into law), in the text list the name of the law and the year. The name of the law can sometimes be found at the beginning of the bill as signed into a law and/or the beginning of the appropriate section of the codified version.
Statutes (no name):
(18 U.S.C. § 2258)
It is not always possible to find the name of a law, especially if the citation is to the codified version (published in the U.S. Code or one of the California / state codes). To cite existing law without a name, often a section of the USC or a California code, some authors simply include the legal citation in the text, e.g. (18 U.S.C. § 2258), and omit the entry from the References list.
Party v. Party, Legal Citation (Court abbreviation year)
Christopher S. v. Stanislaus County Office of Education, 384 F.3d 1205 (9th Cir., 2004)
Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)
People v. Stockton Pregnancy Control Medical Clinic, 203 Cal. App. 3d 225 (Cal. App. 3d 1988)
Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, 131 Cal. Rptr. 14 (Cal. 1976)
Legal Citation for a court case = volume # Reporter Abbreviation page number
384 = volume 384
F.3d = Federal Supplement 3rd Series
225 = page 225
Reporters and Legal Citations:
Federal and state supreme and appellate court decisions are usually gathered from the official court releases, and reprinted in commercial sources known as "reporters." Each reporter will provide a "legal citation" to a case, which usually includes a volume or year, reporter abbreviation, and a page number.
140 P. 3d 775 - California supreme court case republished in the 3rd series of the Pacific Reporter (P. 3d), in volume 140 and starting on page 775.
Abbreviation for court that issued ruling (Skip this if you are unable to find the abbreviation, but be sure to include the year.)
U.S. Supreme Court = U.S.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the nth Circuit = 1st Cir., 2nd Cir., etc.
U.S. District Court for California
Central District of California C.D. Cal.
Eastern District of California E.D. Cal.
Northern District of California N.D. Cal.
Southern District of California S.D. Cal.
Party v. Party, Legal Citation (Issuing Court Abbreviation year).
Party names are displayed at top of court opinion in LexisNexis. (In Lexis, if the list of party names is overly long, in the upper left screen under “Show” choose “List” to display “short” party names.)
Legal Citation = volume # Reporter Abbreviation starting page #
Issuing Court: Abbreviation for court that issued ruling (Skip this if you are unable to find the abbreviation, but be sure to include the year.)
Abbreviations for Issuing Courts in California:
California Supreme Court = Cal.
Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District = Cal. 1d.
Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District = Cal. 2d.
Court of Appeal of California, Third Appellate District = Cal. 3d.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974
If a formal name of the law is not available (you only have a U.S. Code citation), some authors only include a citation in the text only, e.g.:18 U.S.C. § 2258
Format 1 – (US Code only):
Name of law, title # U.S.C. § section #.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, 42 USC §§5101–5106.
Format 2 – (with Public Law and/or Statutes at Large information):
Name of law, Pub. L. ##-##, volume Stat. page, codified as amended at title U.S.C. § section #.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-247, 88 Stat. 4, codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§5101–5106.
Format 1 - Code (usually preferred format, using citation to California Codes):
Name of law (if available), State Abbreviation Code Abbreviation § section number(s) (Year if available).
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, Cal. Penal Code § 11164 et seq.
Format 2 – Bill/Chapter (use if new law updates many code sections instead of one):
Name of law, State Abbreviation Branch (Assemb. or S.) Bill number, Chapter number (Cal. Stat. Year).
California Fostering Connections to Success Act, Cal. Assemb. B. 12 (2010-2011), Chapter 559 (Cal. Stat. 2010).
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
"Reporters" publish 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.
Example: 344 U.S. 1 cites the "Brown v. Board of Education" decision as published in the governments Supreme Court series, United States Reports.
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
|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|