What’s a Citation

What’s a Citation

Citations (and cites) in legal terminology are references to specific legal sources such as constitutions, statutes, reported cases, treatises, or articles in law reviews. An appropriate citation includes first the volume number, followed by the title of the source (usually abbreviated), and finally the page or section number of the source.

There may be a need for help figuring out what citations mean when you locate citations for cases you wish to use. In the front of each volume of the digest, you will find a list of abbreviations used in that jurisdiction.

The case citation indicates the volume number, the name of the reporter, the page number, and the year the decision was published. Thus, each citation can be uniquely identified. It is possible for multiple publishers to publish judicial opinions in a case. An official citation is the one published by the publisher with whom the court has contracted for publishing the reports; any other is deemed “unofficial.” (In some cases, only one reference will be provided, such as in the Federal Reporter; then only that information will be cited alone for the case.) The opinions are the same, whether in the official or unofficial, but unofficial sources may contain more editorial information.

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