Basic Legal Citation

Blue Book for APA and MLA

APA and MLA use a modified Blue Book style that is more academic, and good for indicating  electronic sources.


  • Treat legal citations as you would references that do not have an author.
  • Use Bluebook abbreviations. Several websites duplicate the Bluebook list.
  • APA and MLA do not follow Bluebook on the underlining of titles. Handle titles as you would for any other reference.
  • APA uses the section symbol §. MLA uses the abbreviation Sec.
  • APA and MLA require you to italicize case names in text only. Case names are not italicized in the References or Works Cited list.
  • MLA requires format type (web or print) and database/source information for "web" items, but no URL.
  • APA does not differ differentiate between format types, so it does not require database information or URL information. However -- see below...
  • APA allows you to use the LEXIS or Westlaw databse record/case number instead of slip opinions.This is helpful when you want to cite something that is not yet published in an offical reporter.

From Lexis-Nexis to APA and MLA

Many students do their legal searching in Lexis-Nexis. The database will provide citation format suggestions for APA and MLA, but do not take these "as-is." Citation formats suggested by the database are "branded" LexisNexis® Academic, giving a trademark symbol that is not needed. Other elements may not conform. Lexis-Nexis will often suggest that database and URL information be used in APA citations. This is not necessary. However, if you use the LEXIS record number for slip opinions, look for the LEXIS number included at the top of a document.

Lexis-Nexis and citation management programs

Lexis-Nexis is designed to export with RefWorks; however, information in parenthesis (such as jurisdiction or year) may often appear in the wrong fields.

If you use EndNote, you will not be able to direct export. You can export from RefWorks to EndNote, or you can cut and paste into a new EndNote reference record, or use other work arounds.

Be very careful when using Lexis-Nexis and citation management software. It may be one case in which cutting and pasting may yield more accurate results for both EndNote and RefWorks.

Cases & Statutues in APA and MLA

Name v. Name, citation, page numbers, docket number, name of the court, year of decision, Internet address, and date of accessing the site

Fullilove v. Klutznick. 448 U.S. 448. 448-554. No. 78-1007. US Supreme Court. 1980. LexisNexis. University of Georgia Libraries. Web. (11 Feb. 2010).

Name v. Name, Volume Reporter Abbreviation Page (jurisdiction if needed, year(s) of decision)

Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 , U.S. 448 (1980).

for unpublished cases-

Case title, docket number, LEXIS case/record number (jurisdiction if needed, year(s) of decision)

Dougherty v. Royal Zenith Corp., No. 88-8666, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10807, at *2 (E.D. Pa. july 31, 1991)

The at *2 is a way of citing a particular paragraph, and indicates that your information comes from the electronic record and not the slip opinion, where there would be page numbers.

Lexis-Nexis Suggestion for a Statute Citation in MLA

42 US Code. Sec. 405. 1998. Online. LexisNexis® Academic. 13 February 2010.

MLA Statute template

Title number, statute book of the U.S. Code. section. year. publication medium, name of computer service, and date of access.

42 US Code. Sec. 405. 1998. LexisNexis Academic. 13 February 2010.

LexisNexis suggestion for APA statute

Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §2301 et seq. (2006). Retrieved 13 February 2010 from LexisNexis Academic database.

APA Template for Statute
Name of Act, Volme Abbreviated Source § section number (Edition or year of the Code)

Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §2301 et seq. (2006).

Some examples taken from

Last Update: 13 Jul 16:58 | Tagged with: law legal citation Bluebook