- Citing Cases
- Citing Statutes
- Citing Books and Journal Articles
- Citing Electronic Sources
- Finding Abbreviations to Law Reports and Journals
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEGAL CITATION
Legal research relies very heavily on citation. In the first year of law school, citation focuses primarily on cases, statutes, articles and book citation. Case citation serves two major functions: first, a complete citation allows the reader to find the decision; second, it should convey valuable information about the case, including the year it was handed down, court level, jurisdiction and case history (if included). Accurate citation provides a road map that directs the reader to where to locate the law. As with an actual road map, users of citations depend on their accuracy.
This chapter provides an introduction to the citation of:
- Statutes and Regulations
- Books and Journal Articles
- Electronic Sources
Under each of these headings, you will find an explanation and detailed breakdown of how to construct a citation, followed by a series of examples.
McGILL GUIDE: THE CANADIAN GUIDE TO UNIFORM LEGAL CITATION
The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 8th ed (Toronto: Carswell, 2014), a.k.a. the McGill Guide, was created in an effort to standardize Canadian legal citation and provide a nationally acceptable reference system. The guide has been adopted as the authority on legal citation by many of Canadian legal publications including the Queen's Law Journal. There are also other excellent freely-available online legal citation guides available, such as UBC's Legal Citation Guide and the Citation Guide for Saskatchewan Courts. In this chapter, we will focus on giving an introduction to the most recent edition of the McGill Guide. To clarify any points, and for further details, please consult the McGill Guide itself. Queen's Law Library has copies of the McGill Guide on reserve (call no. KE259 .C35 2014).
The citation is a valuable and concise source of information that includes the name of the parties involved in the action, the year the decision was handed down, the jurisdiction and the court in which the case was heard. It also provides information on where a specific case may be found--i.e., in what reporters or databases the case is published. Lawyers use cases to make claims about the strength of their own cases and about the law itself, and other legal professionals--judges, clerks, opposing counsel--are required to determine whether those claims are accurate by finding and reading those cases. As a result, legal professionals are expected to know how to cite cases correctly--the inability to do so can damage one's credibility.
Outline of this Section
1. How to Cite a Case - Building the Citation
- A. The case has a neutral citation: the citation pattern to use
- B. The case does not have a neutral citation: the citation pattern to use
2. How to include Case History
3. Further Citation Examples
4. Citing Cases from Online Databases
5. Citing Cases that are Freely Available Online
6. Citing Unreported Cases
1. HOW TO CITE A CASE - BUILDING THE CITATION
Key Question: Does the case have a neutral citation?
The answer to this question will determine which of the two case citation patterns to follow.
In 1999, Canadian courts began assigning neutral citations to their judgments (the start date varies depending on the court). The neutral citation is only a case identifier and does not indicate where a case can be found. It consists of three parts:
For example, Lovelace v Ontario has the neutral citation 2000 SCC 37:
A. The case has a neutral citation: the citation pattern to use
style of cause, neutral citation, pinpoint [if needed], law report/other source, judge [if needed].
Clearbrook Iron Works Ltd v Letourneau, 2006 FCA 42, 46 CPR (4th) 241.
Let's examine each part of the citation for a case with a neutral citation to understand how it is constructed:
1. Style of Cause
- a case is identified by the names of those who were parties to the litigation
- in general, one uses only the last name of the first mentioned party on each side. For example, "John Smith et al v Mary Jones" becomes Smith v Jones
- "v" is an abbreviation for versus and is pronounced "and" in civil cases and "against" in criminal cases
- the names of the parties and the "v" are italicized
- For more information, consult section 2.3 of the McGill Guide
example: Clearbrook Iron Works Ltd v Letourneau
"Indexed as": for recent cases, an "indexed as" title will appear at the beginning of a case. If you are ever in doubt as to what the style of cause for a case should be, this is a useful bit of information. Check the first page of the judgment and if the case has an "indexed as" reference, use it for citation purposes.
Reference to the Crown: As an element of constitutional monarchy, Canadian executive government authority is formally vested in the Queen, hence the use of "R" for the Latin word for queen, regina, in legal citations. This is used mainly for criminal cases prosecuted by the state, although you may also see R as part of a citation for a civil case, in place of such terms as "The Queen", "The Queen in right of," etc.
- R v Smith (criminal case brought by the Crown)
- Smith v R (a private case brought against the State)
2. Neutral Citation
Use the neutral citation as given by the court.
|example: Clearbrook Ironworks Ltd v Letourneau, 2006 FCA 42|
3. Pinpoint [if needed]
Include a pinpoint if you are citing to a particular passage in the judgment. Since your case has a neutral citation, make sure you cite to the paragraph number.
|example: Clearbrook Ironworks Ltd v Letourneau, 2006 FCA 42 at para 3|
4. Law Report/Other Source
At least two sources (if available) should be cited for any case. The McGill Guide counts a neutral citation as one source, but you still need to cite to another source.
There is a hierarchy of preferred sources. They are:
a. Official reporters (SCR, FC, or Ex CR).
b. Semi-official reporters (check Appendix C-2 of the McGill Guide).
c. Other sources (unofficial reporters, electronic sources, etc.). For more guidance on citing to online databases, consult 3.81 of the McGill Guide. We also cover this later in th
LexisNexis Quicklaw gives the neutral citation and then indicates that Clearbrook Ironworks was also reported in 46 CPR (4th) 241 and 145 ACWS (3d) 809. Looking up CPR and ACWS in Appendix C of the McGill Guide, we see that CPR stands for Canadian Patent Reporter and ACWS stands for All Canada Weekly Summaries. They are both listed as unofficial reporters. Since our case does not appear to be reported in an official reporter or a semi-official reporter, we can cite it to either of the unofficial reporters. We've chosen the Canadian Patent Reporter. The citation given - 46 CPR (4th) 241 - corresponds to volume 46 of the Canadian Patent Reporter, fourth series, beginning at page 241.
|example: Clearbrook Ironworks Ltd v Letourneau, 2006 FCA 42 at para 3, 46 CPR (4th) 241|
5. Judge [if needed]
If relevant, the judge's name may be included, followed by "J" for Justice, "JA" for Justice of Appeal, etc. (consult 3.10 of the McGill Guide).
|example: Clearbrook Ironworks Ltd v Letourneau, 2006 FCA 42 at para 3, 46 CPR (4th) 241, Sexton JA.|
B. The case does not have a neutral citation: the citation pattern to use
style of cause, year of decision [if not part of reporter citation], law reporter volume number, law reporter abbreviation, law reporter series, page number, pinpoint [if needed], other law report/source, jurisdiction and court [if not indicated by reporters], judge [if needed].
Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192, 112 DLR (3d) 67.
Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423, 13 ACWS (2d) 110 (H Ct J).
Let's examine each part of the citation for two cases without neutral citations to understand how they are constructed:
1. Style of Cause
The considerations are identical to a case with a neutral citation.
|example 1: Hopp v Lepp|
|example 2: Fucella v Ricker|
2. Year of Decision [if not part of reporter citation]
To determine if we need to insert a year after the style of cause, we need to look at the reporters we are citing to. If the year of the case is not indicated by the reporter citation itself, we need to insert it here.
In example 1, the two citations provided are  2 SCR 192 and 112 DLR (3d) 67. Since the citation to the Supreme Court Reports (SCR) includes the year, we do not need to include the year again next to the style of cause.
In example 2, the two citations provided are 35 OR (2d) 423 and 13 ACWS (2d) 110. Since neither citation indicates the year of the case, we need to add it in parentheses.
|example 1: Hopp v Lepp,|
|example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982),|
3. Law Report Volume Number
There are two ways a reporter series may be numbered:
- volume designated first by year, then by volume within the year, which requires the use of SQUARE BRACKETS. There is a new sequence of volume numbers that begins with each new year.
example 1: Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192
This citation indicates that the case can be found in volume 2 of the 1980 Supreme Court Reports, starting at page 192. The year - 1980 - is critical to locating the case, as there would be a volume 2 issued every year.
- consecutive volume numbers are used by the majority of series and simply begin at volume one and continue on indefinitely until the publisher decides to start a new series.
example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423
This citation indicates that the case can be found in volume 35 of the second series of the Ontario Reports, staring at page 423. The date is not necessary for finding the case - there is only one volume 35 in the second series of the Ontario Reports. The volumes are not issued by year. We added the year in the previous step (in parentheses) simply to indicate the year of the case.
- Year in Parentheses: this refers to the date the judgment was issued (the year of decision).
- Year in Square brackets: this refers to the date the judgment was published in the case reporter.
- a comma follows round brackets but comes before square brackets.
What to do when the year of decision and the year of publication in the reporter are different:
In most cases, the year of publication coincides with the year the decision was handed down. Sometimes, however, there is a time lag between when a case was decided and when it was reported. To be sure of the year of the decision, look at the beginning of the case itself.
Include both years in the citation: the year of decision in parentheses (followed by a comma) and then the year of the reporter in square brackets.
In this example, the case was decided in 1987 but not published in the Federal Court Reports until 1988. This requires both years to be included in the citation:
Swiss Bank Corp v Air Canada (1987),  1 FC 71.
The parentheses clarify that the decision was handed down in 1987. The square brackets refer to the law report volume in which the case appears.
4. Law Reporter Abbreviation
- A law reporter is always referred to in the citation by a standard abbreviation of its title.
- There are a great many court reporters. It is not necessary to memorize the abbreviations for each; Appendix C of the McGill Guide provides a list of common reporter names and their abbreviations. For more information, see the section on Finding Abbreviations for Law Reports and Journals.
- The reporter series number, if there is one, is also abbreviated and placed in parentheses directly following the report title. The abbreviations used are (2d), (3d), (4th), (5th) and so on. The series numbers should not be in superscript.
- Note that (2d) and (3d) are used in lieu of (2nd) and (3rd).
example 1: Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192
Appendix C of the McGill Guide indicates that SCR stands for Supreme Court Reports, which, as explained in the previous section, are published by year and volume number. This is volume 2 of 1980.
The McGill Guide also indicates that the Supreme Court Reports are official, so they are cited to first.
example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423
Appendix C of the McGill Guide indicates that OR stands for Ontario Reports, which, as explained in the previous section, are published with consecutive volume numbers. This is volume 35 of the second series.
The McGill Guide also indicates that the Ontario Reports are semi-official. Since Fucella v Ricker is not reported in an official reporter, the Ontario Reports is the first reporter to cite to in this case.
5. Page Number
The first page of the case is the final element in the reporter citation. In the reporter citation so far, we've already indicated the volume in which to find the case and the name of the reporter. This last element will direct the reader to the first page of the decision as published in that particular reporter.
example 1: Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192
The case will begin at page 192 of volume 2 of the 1980 Supreme Court Reports.
example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423
The case will begin at page 423 of volume 35 of the Ontario Reports, second series.
6. Pinpoint [if needed]
Include a pinpoint if you are citing to a particular passage in the judgment. Pagination and paragraphing for the same case may vary among reporters. Make sure you are citing to the page or paragraph number as published in the most official reporter, the one that is cited first. To make this clear to the reader, the pinpoint follows the citation to the first reporter. Sometimes page or paragraph numbers are not included in online versions of cases. This may mean you need to consult a print copy.
example 1: Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192 at 201
example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423 at 426
7. Other Law Report/Source
At least two sources (if available) should be cited for any case, so we still need to include a second source. This is also called a parallel citation. Recall that there is a hierarchy of preferred sources. They are:
a. Official reporters (SCR, FC, or Ex CR).
b. Semi-official reporters (check Appendix C of the McGill Guide).
c. Other sources (unofficial reporters, electronic sources, etc.).
We have already cited our cases to the most official source available. The second citation should be to the next most official source.
WestlawNext Canada indicates that Hopp v Lepp was also reported in  4 WWR 645, 13 CCLT 66, 112 DLR (3d) 67, 4 L Med Q 202, 32 NR 145, 22 AR 361, JE 80-515, and 3 ACWS (2d) 129. We've already cited to the official source - the SCRs. The next step is to see if any of these reporters are semi-official.
The list of semi-official reporters in Appendix C-2 of the McGill Guide shows that the Alberta Reports (AR) are semi-official. Therefore, this will be the other law report to use.
|example 1: Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192 at 201, 22 AR 361|
LexisNexis Quicklaw lists two more citations for Fucella v Ricker :  OJ no 3144 and 13 ACWS (2d) 110. The first citation -  OJ no 3144 - is actually a case identifier given by LexisNexis Quicklaw. The second citation - 13 ACWS (2d) 110 - stands for the All Canada Weekly Summaries, Second Series, which is an unofficial reporter. As the McGill Guide instructs us to cite a paper reporter before an electronic reporter, we will use the ACWS citation (see 3.1 of the McGill Guide for guidance on hierarchy of sources).
|example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423 at 426, 13 ACWS (2d) 110|
8 . Jurisdiction and Court [if not indicated by reporters]
A case citation should always indicate both the jurisdiction and court level. Neutral citations take care of this requirement, but for cases without a neutral citation, you need to consider whether this information needs be to added at the end of the citation. Before adding it, look at the names of the reporters to which you have cited. If either the jurisdiction or court is evident from their titles, there is no need to repeat this information at the end of the citation.
If you need to add this information, use abbreviations found in Appendix A-1 (for jurisdictions) and B (for courts).
example 1: Hopp v Lepp,  2 SCR 192 at 201, 22 AR 361
No information was added because the SCR (Supreme Court Reports) citation indicates that this is a case from the Supreme Court of Canada.
example 2: Fucella v Ricker (1982), 35 OR (2d) 423 at 426, 13 ACWS (2d) 110 (H Ct J)
The OR (Ontario Reports) citation indicates that this is an Ontario case, so we do not need to add the jurisdiction. However, because there is no indication of the court from the citation, the fact that it is from the High Court of Justice must be added at the end (using the abbreviation from Appendix B).
example 3: Graham v R,  6 WWR 48, 90 DLR (3d) 223 (Sask QB)
Neither the WWR (Western Weekly Reports) citation nor the DLR (Dominion Law Reports) citation indicates the jurisdiction or court, so both should be added. Using the appendices, Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench is abbreviated to Sask QB.
2. HOW TO INCLUDE CASE HISTORY
- When a case has gone through more than one court level, it may be relevant to reference the complete case history. For more information, see section 3.11 of the McGill Guide.
- While it is possible to begin a citation with the decision from any court level, the conventional method is to cite either the final or initial court level and list each decision sequentially from there.
- When citing in the order of highest to lowest court level (prior history), use the abbreviations aff'g (affirming) and rev'g (reversing).
- When citing in the order of lowest to highest court level (subsequent history), use the abbreviations aff'd (affirmed) and rev'd (reversed).
- These key words all relate to the first case cited.
R v Carosella,  1 SCR 80, rev'g (1995), 26 OR (3d) 209 (CA), aff'g (1994), 25 CR (4th) 301 (Ct J (GD)).
This case history indicates that the Supreme Court's decision reversed the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision and affirmed the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division). In other words, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal but agreed with the trial court.
R v Carosella (1994), 25 CR (4th) 301 (Ct J (GD)), rev'd (1995), 26 OR (3d) 209 (CA), aff'd  1 SCR 80.
When ordered this way, the case history indicates that the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) was reversed by the Ontario Court of Appeal but affirmed by the Supreme Court. In other words, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court, but the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court.
3. CASE CITATION EXAMPLES
We have examined the individual components of a legal citation. The annotations following the examples below consider what information is being conveyed in each citation and how you should be able to find each case.
Queen v Cognos Inc,  1 SCR 87.
This citation indicates that the Queen v Cognos case was reported in volume 1 of the 1993 Canada Supreme Court Reports, beginning at page 87. The fact that it appears in this reporter indicates that the decision was rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Queen v Cognos Inc (1993), 99 DLR (4th) 626 (SCC).
This citation indicates that Queen v Cognos can also be found in volume 99 of the fourth series of the Dominion Law Reports, beginning at page 626. Because it is not clear from the case reporter, the year of decision (1993) and the level of court (SCC) were added.
Queen v Cognos Inc,  1 SCR 87, 99 DLR (4th) 626, 14 CCLT (2d) 113.
This citation indicates that Queen v Cognos is reported in the Supreme Court Reports, the Dominion Law Reports (4th series), and also in Canadian Cases on the Law of Torts (2d series). The first citation - to the Supreme Court Reports - indicates that it is a Supreme Court case.
Queen v Cognos Inc (1990), 74 OR (2d) 176 (CA).
This citation indicates that the Ontario Court of Appeal made a decision in the Queen v Cognos dispute, in 1990, and the case can be found in volume 74 of the Ontario Reports (2d series) at page 176.
Queen v Cognos Inc,  1 SCR 87, rev'g (1990), 74 OR (2d) 176 (CA), aff'g (1987), 63 OR (2d) 389 (H Ct J).
This citation indicates that the 1993 decision from the Supreme Court of Canada reversed the 1990 decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal but affirmed the 1987 decision of the Ontario High Court of Justice.
The square brackets in this citation refer to the date upon the spine of the reporter where the case is located. The dates in round brackets tell us the actual dates those decisions were handed down.
Lucas v. Antoniak (1978), 7 CCLT 209 (BC SC), aff'd (1980), 15 CCLT 195 (CA), leave to appeal to SCC refused (1981), 15 CCLT 195n.
This citation indicates the 1978 decision of the BC Supreme Court was affirmed by a 1980 decision of the BC Court of Appeal. Leave to appeal was refused by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1981.
4. CITING CASES FROM ONLINE DATABASES
- You can cite a case to a CanLII, LexisNexis Quicklaw, or WestlawNext Canada citation (also called a case identifier) in certain circumstances, such as if the case was not reported in print or if it is the most readily available source (see section 3.1 of then McGill Guide).
- More often, a citation to a database will be a second (parallel) citation.
- A case's neutral citation (if there is one) is always the preference for the first citation.
- See section 3.8 of the McGill Guide for more guidance.
Example #1: neutral citation available
Brown v Douglas, 2010 BCSC 1059, 2010 CarswellBC 1999 (WL Can).
This case was not reported in any print reporters.Its neutral citation always goes first, followed by its WestlawNext Canada citation. The date, jurisdiction and court (British Columbia Supreme Court) are apparent from the neutral citation, so those elements do not need to be added to the citation. The "WL Can" indicates that the case was retrieved from WestlawNext Canada because that is not clear from the citation ("CarswellBC").
Example #2: no neutral citation available
Bank of Nova Scotia v Visentin,  OJ No 4563 (QL) (Ct J (Gen Div)).
This case was not reported in any print reporters, and it has no neutral citation. Therefore, it is simplycited to the case identifier assigned by LexisNexis Quicklaw, followed by "QL" to indicate where it can be found. The "OJ" indicates that it is a case from Ontario but does not indicate the court level, so the "Gen Div" is needed at the end.
Citing Cases From Electronic Databases: Examples
Here are a few examples to look over. Try to identify and understand each part of the citation.
R v Butler,  SCJ No 15 (QL).
Note that it is not necessary to include the court because it is clear from the case identifier that this case was handed down by the Supreme Court. No neutral citation exists. Because the citation "SCJ" doesn't indicate which database it was retrieved from, "QL" has been added at the end for LexisNexis Quicklaw.
R v Howard,  AJ No 1025 (QL) (CA).
Here, it is evident that the case was decided in Alberta (case identifier AJ), but it is unclear which court heard the case, so the court abbreviation must be included. No neutral citation exists. Because the citation "AJ" doesn't indicate which database it was retrieved from, "QL" has been added at the end for LexisNexis Quicklaw.
Harris v Beck Estate, 2007 CarswellPEI 11 (WL Can) (SC(TD)).
The case identifier shows the case is from PEI but does not indicate the court, so the court abbreviation should be added. No neutral citation exists. Because the citation "CarswellPEI" doesn't indicate which database it was retrieved from, "WL Can" has been added at the end for WestlawNext Canada.
OEX Electromagnetic Inc v Coopers, 1991 CanLII 1336 (BC SC).
The only additional information needed is the jurisdiction and court; the case identifier gives the year and electronic database information. No neutral citation exists. Because the citation "CanLII" clearly indicates which database it was retrieved from, nothing needs to be added to identify that the case came from the CanLII database.
5. CITING CASES THAT ARE FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE
Legal materials, including cases and statutes, are increasingly available online for free, particularly from government agencies and tribunals. This is a boon in terms of audience accessibility, but when you are deciding whether to cite to an online case from such a source, remember to also consider how reliable and trustworthy the source is. The McGill Guide offers direction in how to cite to such materials. See section 3.14.2 of the McGill Guide for more details.
Where the case has not been reported, use style of cause, date, docket or number (if applicable), the designation "online:", court/tribunal abbreviation, followed by name of the homepage of that court/tribunal from which you retrieved the case.
Jovian Capital Corporation et al. (3 October 2013), online: OSC <http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/ >
6. CITING UNREPORTED CASES
Print law reporters are selective about publishing cases. Reported cases are chosen because of their relevance in expanding on or clarifying a point of law. Because of this selectivity, many cases remain "unreported". However, the distinction between reported and unreported cases is blurring because these "unreported" cases are often available through an electronic sources such as CanLII, LexisNexis Quicklaw, or WestlawNext Canada. In that situation, the case should be cited to the database identifier/citation (see section 4, above). Where a case is not available electronically, however, it must be accessed directly from the court that handed down the decision.
To cite an unreported case that is not available from a database and does not have a neutral citation, use the following form: style of cause, date of decision, judicial district, docket number, jurisdiction and court.
Example: Stephenson v Stephenson (6 December 1984), Nanaimo 5920/004143 (BC SC).
CITING STATUTES AND REGULATIONS
While you may be using online versions of statutes and regulations, particularly for recent years, the citation of legislative materials still depends on their organization in print volumes. However, all the information that you will need to create the citations for legislative materials should be available in their online equivalents in reliable sources.
Citation of statutes is quite straightforward. It takes the following form:
short title, statute volume (including jurisdiction and year), chapter number, section number (if needed)
Example of a statute in an annual statute volume: Fewer Politicians Act, SO 1996, c 28, s 3.
Example of a statute in a revised statute volume: Mining Act, RSO 1990, c M.14.
A. Short Title
- Most statutes have lengthy titles. To save time and space the "short title" is acceptable for citation purposes.
- This title is easy to find at either the beginning or end of the act and will be prefaced by the words, "This act may be cited as". Use the short title as given and remember to italicize it.
- Newer statutes may also include the year as part of the title. If you find a statute with a year in the title, make sure you include this as part of the title in your citation (e.g., Pharmacy Act, 1991, SO 1991, c 36).
B. Volume Title Abbreviation
- Revised Statutes or Regulations: Periodically the federal and provincial governments publish consolidations of all the statutes or regulations in force in their respective jurisdictions as of a particular date. These are referred to as the Revised Statutes or the Revised Regulations. The last time Ontario issued revised statutes was 1990. The last time the federal government issued revised statutes was 1985.
RSO 1990 stands for the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990
RSC 1985 stands for the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985
Employment Standards Act, RSO 1990, c E.14.
Canada Elections Act, RSC 1985, c E-2.
- Annual statutes: While Revised Statutes are published periodically, annual statute volumes are published every year. These contain both new and amending statutes which have received Royal Assent during the past year. If a statute is passed after the most recent Revised Statutes, it will be cited to the annual volume in which it appears. These annual statutes are cited as follows:
SO 1991 stands for Statutes of Ontario 1991
SC 1991 stands for Statutes of Canada 1991
Photo Card Act, 2008, SO 2008, c 17.
Species at Risk Act, SC 2002, c 29.
C. Chapter Number
- This element of the citation refers to the specific chapter number which the statute has been assigned in the volume.
Photo Card Act, 2008, SO 2008, c 17.
Species at Risk Act, SC 2002, c 29.
D. Section Number
- If necessary, include a reference to the section(s) of the statute you are discussing. This is known as a "pinpoint reference".
Photo Card Act, 2008, SO 2008, c 17, s 8.
Species at Risk Act, SC 2002, c 29, ss 5, 7-12.
Note that "section" is abbreviated to "s" and "sections" is abbreviated to "ss". Unlike books and journal articles, there is no "at."
- Some provinces also publish statutes in loose-leaf format. The loose-leaf version may or may not have official status depending on the jurisdiction. Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia all have an official version.
- Sessional volumes: In the past, bound volumes of Federal and Ontario statutes were published at the end of each legislative session, rather than on a calendar year basis. When citing to statutes in these volumes, you may need to include the session number. See section 2.1.8 of the McGill Guide.
Revised Statutes which have been amended:
When you cite to a statute, it is assumed you are citing to the current version of the statute. It is only necessary to include a reference to an amending statute in the citation if it is relevant to a point being discussed. To include an amending statute, cite the original statute first, followed by "as amended by" and the citation of the new act. Include the name of the amending statute only if it differs from the original act.
Hay and Straw Inspection Act, RSC 1985, c H-2, as amended by An Act to Amend the Department of Agriculture Act and to amend or repeal certain other Acts, SC 1994, c 38.
This citation is referring to federal legislation, the Hay and Straw Inspection Act, chapter H-2 in the 1985 Revised Statutes, which has been amended by a statute found in chapter 38 of the 1994 annual statutes.
Regulations are passed under the authority of a particular statute at either the federal or provincial level. They are published with a citation to the year they were filed, and, like statutes, they are periodically consolidated. Listing the title of the regulation is optional.
Federal regulations are cited as "Statutory Orders and Regulations" (SOR) with the year they were filed, and a number.
- Example: Competition Tribunal Rules, SOR/87-373 = this regulation was the 373rd filed in 1987.
Consolidated federal regulations are cited to the "Consolidated Regulations of Canada" (CRC) with a chapter number.
- Example: Government Annuities Regulations, CRC, c 879 = this regulation is found in chapter 879 of the Consolidated Regulations of Canada.
Ontario regulations are cited as "Ontario Regulation" (O Reg) followed by a number and the last two digits of the year in which the regulation was filed.
- Example: O Reg 45/91 = this regulation was the 45th filed in 1991.
Consolidated Ontario regulations are cited to the "Revised Regulations of Ontario" (RRO) 1990 (the most recent time regulations were consolidated), and then the regulation number.
- Example: RRO 1990, Reg 737 = this is Regulation 737 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario 1990.
As with statutes, a pinpoint reference will refer to a specific section number within the regulation. The pinpoint appears at the end of the citation.
- Example: RRO 1990, Reg 737, s 8(1).
CITING BOOKS AND JOURNAL ARTICLES
This is the citation pattern for books:
author, title, edition (if needed), place of publication, publisher, year of publication, pinpoint (if needed).
SM Waddams, The Law of Contracts, 3d ed (Toronto: Canada Law Book, 1993).
A. Author's Name
- initial(s) or first name (as it appears in the book), then last name
B. Book Title
- the title should be in italics
C. Edition Number
- include if this is not the first edition (note that 2d and 3d are used, not 2nd and 3rd)
D. Place of Publication
- the city name is followed by a colon and contained in parentheses along with the publisher name and year of publication
F. Year of Publication
PW Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada, 2d ed (Toronto: Carswell, 1985).
Citing Journal Articles
This is the citation pattern for journal articles:
author's name, title of article, year, volume and issue number, journal or review name, first page number
H Patrick Glenn, "A Concept of Legal Tradition" (2008) 34:1 Queen's LJ 427.
A. Author's Name
- initial(s) or first name (as it appears in the journal), then last name, followed by a comma
B. Article Title
- the title of the article is placed in quotation marks
- the year is always contained in round brackets
D. Volume and Issue Number
- always include the volume and issue number
- the issue number follows the volume number with a colon, e.g. 25:4 (volume 25, issue 4).
E. Journal or Review
- use the proper abbreviation for the journal. Refer to the McGill Guide Appendix D for a list of periodical abbreviations. For more information, consult the section on Finding Abbreviations for Law Reports and Journals.
F. Page Number
- this number refers to the first page of the article within the journal
Pinpoint to a page or section. See the following examples:
PW Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada, 2d ed (Toronto: Carswell, 1985) at 73.
RJ Delisle, Evidence: Principles and Problems (Toronto: Carswell, 1984) at 129.
Michael G Bridge, "Discharge for Breach of the Contract of Sale of Goods" (1985) 28:4 McGill LJ 867 at 913.
Citing Electronic Sources
As a general rule, when citing electronic sources, give the traditional citation for the type of secondary sources it is - whether it is an article, a government document, etc. - followed by a comma, and then "online:", and give the name of the website, and the URL. The URL should not be underlined, but it should be enclosed with "<" and ">".
Polly Donda-Kaplan & Natasha Bakht, The Application of Religious Law in Family Law Arbitration Across Canada, online: Women's Legal Education and Action Fund <http://www.leaf.ca/legal/submissions/2006-application-religious-law-in-familiy-law.pdf>.
There are some variations to this rule depending on the type of material being cited. Consult section 6.22 of the McGill Guide for more details.
Sources from a Database
If you retrieved an article or e-book from a database such as LexisNexis Quicklaw or WestlawNext Canada, you can indicate this by adding the name of the database in parentheses after the traditional citation.
Paul D Paton, "Accountants, Privilege, and the Problem of Working Papers" (2005) 28 Dal LJ 353 (QL).
Finding Abbreviations to Law Reports and Journals
Sometimes you need to find what a particular abbreviation stands for in order to track down the reporter or journal, and other times, you might need to find the abbreviation for a journal or reporter in order to cite it. There are a number of places to check:
Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 8th ed (Toronto: Carswell, 2014).
Call number: KE259 .C35 2014 (copies are shelved in the Reserve area).
Canadian Abridgment - note that there is a list of abbreviations at the front of each volume.
(shelved in the Reference section along the north wall of the law library)
Donald Raistrick, Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations, 4th ed (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2013).
Call number: Ref. KD400 .R35 2008 (copies are shelved in the Reserve area).
Mary Miles Prince, Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations, 6th ed (Buffalo: W.S. Hein, 2009).
Call number: Ref. KF246 .P79 2009 (shelved in the Reference section of the law library).
Last Updated: 15 May 2015