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Law: Reading a Legal Citation

Reading a Legal Citation

Legal citations usually follow the format:

Volume # Publication name (abbreviation) Page number (first page)


Example cases

One case may have multiple citations as different publishers (especially West and Lexis) may have published it in different reporter series.

Skafte v. Rorex: 553 P.2d 830 (Colo. 1976) 



Example legislation

Legislation can be cited with numbers describing different stages of its process--its bill number, its public law number once passed, its citation once published in book-form with other laws, or its codified citation.

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001

Bill: H.R. 3162, 107th Cong. (2001)

Public law number: Pub.L. No. 107-56

Statutes at Large: 115 Stat. 272

US Code: 18 USCA § 1 nt. (2008)


California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

CA Chapter: 1970 Cal. Stat. 2780
CA Code: Cal. Pub. Res. §§21000-21177 (2008)