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Paralegal Research Guide: Legal Citations

Research tools for finding information about court cases, legal resources, and more.

Citing Court Cases and Statutes

Most of the time Court Cases are cited using Bluebook format. Sometimes court cases can be cited using the American Psychological Association (APA) format as well. There are different rules depending on what is being cited and what citation format is being used. If information is not available, omit it. Even if a court case is found online it is usually cited to the printed resource where it can be found.

Most legal citations include:

  • Volume number
  • Names of the parties in the case
  • Page or section number (§ = section)
  • Abbreviated name of the court
  • Year that the case was decided

California codes contain state laws (statutes) in 29 different series. One can use the full name of the code or abbreviate it (e.g. California Welfare and Institutions Code = Welf & Inst. Code)

Legal Citation Examples

In-Text Citations

  • Court Case: Griswald,231, F2d at 324 
  • Statute (Fed): 42 U.S.C. § 5101g
  • Statute (State): section 1164 of the California Penal Code

Reference List Citations:

  • Court Case: Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965).
    • Name v. Name, Volume# Source page# (Court abbrev., Year).
  • Statute (Fed):  Child Abuse and Prevention Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5101-5112 (2012).
    • Name of Act, title number abbreviation of code cited, section symbols and span of sections containing statute date of code edition. cited.
  • Statute (State): Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, Cal. Penal Code §11164 et seq.
    • Name of Act, State Abbrev. Code Abbrev. § Section# (Year).

Creating the § (Section) Symbol

To create the § symbol, hold down the ALT key and press 0-1-6-7 on the numeric keypad. You can also try holding down ALT and pressing 2-1. Note that this only works on the numeric keypad, not the upper numbers on the keyboard.

Smartphones and tablets often have this symbol on the "Other Symbols" section of the keyboard, but not always.

To find the § (Section) symbol in Microsoft Word 2016, go to the Insert tab, click Symbol, then More Symbols. Click the Special Characters tab and highlight the "§ Section" symbol. Click Insert.

Microsoft Word Section Symbol Screenshot