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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, 10th edition (Toronto: Thomson Carswell, 2023) 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 on Reference in the Special Collections Room and in the Reserve Kiosk (KF245 .C36 2023) 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.

Many other Canadian law libraries have citation guides you may also wish to consult.

The book may be available for purchase; check at the University Bookstore.

Changes from the 9th ed

  • Increased examples, expanded sections on online legal research services, and additional abbreviations.
  • General rules are consolidated into Chapter 1. These include: 3-em dash is no longer allowed in Bibliographies, using neutral citations for in-text references to cases, and cite to print secondary sources with a parallel citation to a website where possible. Speak to your professor regarding their expectations.
  • No https or www needed for URLs, unless it matters to searching.
  • New sections for emerging technologies, physical objects, and personal communication.
  • General form for online sources.
  • Significant changes to the Jurisprudence chapter for citing cases. Parallel citations are now only required in the absence of a neutral citation with no paragraph numbers; use a parallel citation to a print reporter if paragraph numbers are not available in CanLII or another online legal database source. Speak to your professor regarding their expectations.
  • Simplified online format for Government Documents and Intergovernmental Documents.
  • Include the issue for journal articles where available.
  • Indigenous Treaties is now under Government Documents and has more examples.
  • Extended citation rules for international materials beyond the UN.
  • Expanded Foreign Law Sources chapter and created a general form for case law, except for the United States.
  • and a new section for Islamic Law.
  • Added Legal Research Services to include Practical Law and e-books.

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. The 10th edition explicitly states this is not required for non-published works.

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.

Subject Guide

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Subjects: Law