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LAW Legal Citation (McGill Guide) Quick Reference

Intended to be a quick reference for footnoting some common types of citations for Canadian legal publications.


The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 9th ed (Toronto: Thomson Carswell, 2018) or the "McGill Guide" was developed to standardize Canadian legal citation. The information contained in this guide is intended to be a quick reference for footnoting some common types of citations based on the McGill Guide and, to the best of our ability, is accurate and current. The McGill Guide is the authoritative source for legal citation in Canada.

For complete information or for information on other aspects of citation, please consult the McGill Guide which is available in Reference and Reserve (KF 245 .C28 2018) at the Bennett Jones Law Library.

If you don’t see an example of what you are looking to cite in the McGill Guide, please consult the Chicago Manual of Style from which the McGill Guide is based.

The UBC Law Library has created a more detailed "Legal Citation Guide" you may also wish to consult. It is based on citation rules from a variety of  legal citation styles.

The book is also available for purchase; check at the University Bookstore.

Changes from the 8th ed.

  • Improved coverage of Indigenous legal sources (Indigenous constitutional documents, inter-governmental documents, etc.)
  • The default rule regarding the use of Introductory Signals (see, see also, etc) has changed from "where appropriate" to "put an introductory signal in all cases," with two exceptions.  See rule 1.3.6.  Speak to your professor regarding their expectations.
  • Encouraging use of permanent links (i.e. requires an archived URL in addition to regular URL – see 1.6.2 for general rule). Speak to your professor regarding their expectations.
  • Reconfigured hierarchy of jurisprudential sources to elevate online sources – online case databases are now on equal footing with unofficial reporters in terms of where to cite from, although preferred reporters are still marked in the Appendix.
  • Citation formats for more online items.
  • Removal of “infra”.
  • Encouraging including a DOI if available
  • “Semi-official reporters” are no longer a designation in the jurisprudential hierarchy.
  • Parallel citations are now only required in the absence of a neutral citation. Also, if there are no court assigned paragraph numbers, use a parallel citation.
  • Extended citation rules for international materials beyond the UN.
  • Some case law and international materials moved to Foreign Materials chapter.

Changes to be Aware of in Online Resource Citations

In an effort to prevent link rot (broken links or pages in the future), when you cite to an item found online, you must provide a Permanent or Archived URL after the regular URL in square brackets. A permanent link (also called a Permalink or Archived link) is a URL that is intended to maintain permanence for many years despite the changes to links on a website that may occur in the future.  The McGill Guide strongly recommends the Perma.CC system to create permanent links where none is provided by the site you are citing.  Please refer to Chapter 6.19 for more detail.  If your resource is from a traditional database, you can continue to simply place the abbreviation of the database in round brackets after your traditional citation.

Legal Citation in Other Citation Styles

Other citation styles such as APA require using legal citation for legal materials such as legislation and case law: "most legal materials are cited in the standard legal citation style used for legal references across all disciplines" (APA, 7th ed, p. 355). The examples in this guide should provide the basic information you need to create these for your coursework, under Legislation and Cases. Chapters and rule numbers are included in this guide to to help you navigate through the McGill Guide should you need to consult it directly.