Skip to Main Content

Law & Legal Studies: Citing Law & Reading Legal Citations

Key Sources

How to Read Citations

Encyclopedias, digests and other sources giver references to laws and court cases by using citations such as 410 US 113 or 237 F2d 62 or RC 2305.16.


How to Read Citations

Statutes:  A citation to a statute consists of an abbreviation which stands for the name of a law book, plus numbers indicating the title (subject category) and section or paragraph.

     42 USCA 2006d    =   Title 42 of U.S. Code Annotated, section 2006d

     RC 5301.12         =   Title 53 of Ohio Revised Code, chapter 1, section 12

Court Cases: A citation to a court case consists of an abbreviation plus numbers indicating the volume and page number.

     94 SCt 1009        =   Volume 94 of Supreme Court Reporter, page 1009

     113 NE2d 321     =   Volume 113 of Northeastern Reporter 2d, page 321

Selected Abbreviations

For other abbreviations see the tables of abbreviations in the front of the volume from which you got the citation.  There is also a list of abbreviations in Black's Law Dictionary (GOV REF  KF 156 .B53).  Numbers following abbreviations (such as F2d or ALR3rd) indicate particular series.

AmJur   =  American Jurisprudence OJur       =  Ohio Jurisprudence
CFR      =  Code of Federal Regulations OOps     =  Ohio Opinions
CJS      =  Corpus Juris Secundum OS         =  Ohio State reports
F          =  Federal Reporter Ohio ST  =  Ohio State Reports
F.Supp  =  Federal Supplement RC         =  Ohio Revised Code
Fed.     =  Federal Reporter SCt        =  Supreme Court Reporter

LEd      =  Supreme Court Reports,

                 Lawyer's Edition

US         =  U.S. Reports
NE       =  Northeastern Reporter USC       =  United States Code
OAC    =  Ohio Adminstrative Code USCA     =  United States Code Annotated

Sample Citations (Selected)

Citation Styles. 

Most style manuals contain basic formats for citing documents in research. However, because of the variety of types of documents, it can be difficult to figure out how to create a citation. The standard guide is the Blue Book: A Uniform System of Citation, in print. [A short and limited guide is online.] Some samples below, but you may have to adapt the format of your citation to reflect the spirit of the structure if you cannot find an exact match. In general, the idea of citation is that you can find a source again, and that your citations are reasonably standardized and consistent. Some of the databases will supply citations for each document. 

 Samples of Citations
(From the The Bluebook: a Uniform System of Citation): note there are many variations and it is best to check with the Bluebook for specific details for each kind of document).

  • Code of Federal Regulations:  FCC Broadcast Radio Services, 47 C.F.R. § 73.609 (2009). [Title of Rule or Regulation, Title # C.F.R. specific section (year enacted).  For FCC Broadcast Radio Services: Zones.  (The symbol (§) is preferred and can be found under the symbol font, likely under the insert menu.) 
  • US Code17 U.S.C. § 107 (2012) 
  • Hearings: Background and HIstory of Impeachment; Hearing Before the Subcomm. on the Constitution of the H. Comm on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. 22-23 (1998) (statement of Rep. Hutchinson, Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary. [Title of Hearing, hearing, Subcommittee and Committee name, session of Congress, dates]
  • Agency DocumentTribal Water Quality Accomplishments. [Electronic Resource]. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pacific Southwest Region 9, Water Division, Water Pollution Control Program, 2006. [Chicago Manual of Style]
  • Bills and Resolutions (several ways)
    • Unenacted: S. 516, 105th Cong. § 2 (1997); H.R. 422, 106th Cong. (1990); Clear Skies Act, S. 485, 108th Cong. (2003); Protection form Personal Intrusion Act, H.R. 2448, 105th Cong. § 2(a) (1997). 
    • Enacted: the same form as above, but with (enacted) at the end of the citation.
  • Law Review: Bushle, Corey. The Exclusionary Rule, and the Problem with Search and Seizure Law under the Ohio Constitution. 89 U.CIN. L. REV. 530–51 (2021).
  • Cases: Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 348 F.Supp.954, 956-58 (M.D. Pa. 1972), aff'd 483 F.2d 754 (3d Cir. 1973), aff'd 419 U.S. 345 (1974).

Other Useful Guides

Other Citation Styles