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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.

Legal Abbreviations

When starting legal research, legal citations can be extremely confusing to read, comprised essentially of numbers and abbreviations. To understand where the document was published, the court or tribunal that decided the case, and the jurisdiction from which the legal material came you must be able to interpret the abbreviations in the citation.  There are quite a few soures that can assist in this process; however, there will likely be abbreviations that are not contained in any of these guides and you are encouraged to come to the Reference Desk in the Bennett Jones Law Library for assistance in this situation.

McGill Guide Abbreviation Information

The McGill Guide provies abbreviation information for a wide range of Canadian, foreign and international legal materials in its appendices which are located at the back of the volume.  The appendices are arranged alphabetically by the entry's full name rather than by its abbreviation unless specified otherwise below.

  • Appendices A1 to A4 -- Jurisdictional abbreviations for Canada, the United States, Australia and other countries, and Canadian postal abbreviations.
  • Appendix A5 -- Abbreviations for International Organizations and international materials (arranged by abbreviation)
  • Appendix B -- Courts and tribunals from Canada, U.K., U.S., Australia, and other countries, and dates of implementation for Canadian neutral citation
  • Appendices C1 & C2 -- Canadian official caselaw reporters, and official/unofficial reporters from Canada, U.K., U.S., the EU, international courts, and other countries (arranged by abbreviation)
  • Appendix D -- Law journals, yearbooks, legal newsletters and other periodicals
  • Appendix E – Online legal databases

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (see left column) should be consulted if an abbreviation is not found in the McGill Guide.

online Abbreviation Guides

There are several online abbreviation guides which vary in content, as described below.

Print sources of legal abbreviations

Some books and print sets include an index of abbreviations, generally referring to materials cited in that publication.  For example, the Canadian Abridgment has a list of abbreviations used in that set at the front of each volume; including unions, courts, boards, tribunals, law reports and "general abbreviations requiring explanation."

Abbreviation guides may also be found in the reference area of the Law Library (call numbers KF245 & 246).  Bieber's is the most highly respected print abbreviations guide.