How do I cite court decisions or case law?

This question came to me from students in Psychology 3313, but I’ve tried to make my answers as general as possible! – HC

Citing legal information can feel like a really un-fun treasure hunt: our APA citation guide, for example, refers you to the Publication Manual, which refers you to Appendix 7.1 which refers to you to the Bluebook. Then when you look at the Bluebook the examples are American. Annoying.

So, first thing’s first:

  1. What country is your court decision/case from? If it’s American use the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. If it’s Canadian, use the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation instead. Either way, these resources are located in the library’s reference section.  If it’s from outside Canada or the US I would suggest asking a librarian or emailing the Law Library’s reference desk.
  2. Build your citation. If you find the books difficult to understand (e.g. if you’re inexperienced with legal terminology, like me), I recommend checking out one of the following helpful resources for actually creating your citation. These guides are helpful as they break down the instructions in the Canadian Guide and the Bluebook.

Canadian guides:

    1. Queen’s University Library – Guide to Canadian Legal Citation
    2. Carlton University Library – Citing Legal Sources (see p. 2 “Citing Jurisprudence”)

American guides:

    1. Cornell University – Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (browse menu on the left)
    2. Georgetown – Citing Cases

If you’d like some additional assistance from a librarian, feel free to contact the Law Library (or come visit us, of course!)

Social media citations: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and more

With citation style guides only updated every few years, many students have trouble finding citation examples for recent technological innovations like Twitter or Facebook.  While you won’t always find the example that you need, some of the Associations responsible for popular style guides (such as the American Psychological Association or the Modern Language Association) are starting to post frequently-asked questions to their websites.

Here are a few places to get you started in those random but hard-to-find references.  As more are released, we’ll make sure to update this post!

  1. Twitter
    1. APA:
    2. MLA:
    3. Chicago:
  2. You Tube:
    1. APA:
    2. Chicago:
  3. Facebook
    1. APA:
    2. Chicago:

If you can’t find precise formatting for the type of citation you need, make sure to consult a library staff member for assistance.

Where can I get help with citing and formatting my paper in APA?

Last updated November 17, 2014. This post now includes sites for formatting your paper!

Citation and Referencing

  • The ultimate guide is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).  Not only does it provide citation help, but it also outlines how you should organize and format your assignments.
  • The library has put together a cheat-sheet for the most common types of references (in all of the formats that your professors require, not just APA).  You can find it on our website at:
  • If you can’t find the precise example you need, make sure to check the APA Style blog, located at:  Here’s what the blog is all about, from their own words: “The APA Style Blog is the official companion to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition. It’s run by a group of experts who work with APA Style every day.”   Some of the helpful posts include: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!
  • The OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue is the next best choice (for APA and many other styles)
  • Further resources about learning APA style, such as tutorials, are available on their website:

Formatting your paper

  • Again, the Publication Manual is the first place to look
  • The APA Style Blog also helps with formatting your papers, including those running headers
  • The OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue is an awesome site for all things APA and even includes sample papers! Yay!

There are a lot of other citation resources available to you, so make sure to use a critical eye before trusting them.  When in doubt, only go with the APA-affiliated resources since they’re the experts.  The Beryl Ivey Library takes care when creating the Citation Guides for our students, but even we’re known to make mistakes!