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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.


If there is no specific rule governing the type of decision or the source, apply General Form (Rule 3.2). You can also look at Rule 1.6 if using online resources.

Here are some Canadian case citation examples to get you started (Chapter 3).

Neutral Citations

The McGill Guide requires the use of neutral citation for cases when officially generated by the court. The neutral cite standard began between 1998 and 2006, depending on the court. Therefore, citations to cases prior to 1998 do not have neutral citations. If a neutral citation is available, you do not need to use a parallel citation. Look in Appendix B-3 for court-specific implementation date and abbreviation. Note: CanLII created unofficial neutral citations that are not to be used in citing these cases.

Sharma v Edmonton (Police Service), 2019 ABCA 501.

R v Cole, 2012 SCC 53 at para 67.


No Neutral Citation (on CanLII)

For cases without a neutral citation, but found on CanLII, use the CanLII citation.

Turta (Anton) v. Canadian Pacific Railway, 1951 CanLII 536 (ABQB).


No Neutral Citation (not on CanLII)

For cases without a neutral citation which are not found on CanLII, use print reporters and/or online legal database services (Rule 3.7) in a parallel citation. Parallel citations include a citation to 2 sources where the same case can be found.

R v Littlewolf, [1992] AJ No 236, 1992 CarswellAlta 105.

R v Potts, [1992] 1 CNLR 142, 122 AR 261.

R v Big M Drug Mart, [1985] 1 SCR 295 at 315, 18 DLR (4th) 321.


Pinpoint Citations

Many older cases on CanLII do not have paragraph numbers which make pinpoint citations difficult. In these circumstances, you must use add a parallel citation to a print reporter or online legal database service which has paragraph numbers or page numbers for the case. In this case, CanLII should be used as your second, parallel citation.
Pinpoint on CanLII: Vriend v Alberta, [1994] AJ No 272 at 12, 1994 CanLII 8949 (ABQB).

Pinpoint Not on CanLII: Robitaille v Vancouver Hockey Club, 124 DLR (3d) 228 at 229, [1981] 2 WWR 481 (BCCA).

Note: Although the McGill Guide requires regular edition abbreviations for books, case reporter editions use 2d and 3d instead of 2nd and 3rd, as in the immediately preceding examples. For more information on Pinpoint Citation, see Rules 3.6 and 1.5.


Details for Canadian jurisdictional abbreviations are found in Appendix A. Canadian Court and Tribunal abbreviations are found in Appendix B2.

Here are some Administrative Bodies and Tribunals examples to get you started (Rule 3.15):

Re Sarg Oils Ltd, 2011 Alta ERCB 32.


Here are some Foreign case citation examples to get you started (Chapter 7):

The 10th edition consolidates all foreign jurisdictions, except the United States, into Common Law (Rule 7.1) and Civil Law (Rule 7.2).

Treat all Legal Information Institutes (LIIs) for foreign jurisdictions like CanLII, as the preferred source for citation information.

United Kingdom (Rule 7.1):

The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) has retroactively assigned neutral citations which the McGill Guide indicates to treat as court-assigned neutral citations. Therefore, use these citations for cases from UK courts. One example is Tulk v Moxhay, [1848] 1 H & Tw 105, 41 ER 1143, which is now cited as Tulk v Moxhay, [1848] EWHC Ch J34.


United States (Rule 7.4):

The United States has no uniform standard for neutral citation. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the main authority for citing US cases, including the preferred print reporter to cite.

Massachusetts v Environmental Protection Agency, 549 US 497 (2007).

Animal Legal Defense Fund v United States, 404 F Supp (3d) 1294 (D Or 2019).

South Fork Water and Sanitation District v Town of South Fork, 252 P (3d) 465 (Colo 2011).


Here is an International case citation example to get you started (Chapter 5.2):

Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v United States of America) [1986] ICJ Rep No 14.

Alberta Citation of Authorities

The Alberta Courts website indicates to use the most recent edition of the McGill Guide except where there are discrepancies with it's Citation Guidelines. In the case of discrepancies, the court's Guidelines prevail.