Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Guide to Legal Abbreviations and Citations


This guide is intended to provide basic information on how to cite to sources as well as to help you interpret citations you come across in your legal research. The citation formats presented in this guide follow The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 19th ed. [Closed Reserve, KF 246 .U58 2010], which is one of the most widely recognized legal citation manuals in the United States. For help in understanding the citation rules in The Bluebook, consult one or both of the following sources:

  • Dworsky, Alan L. User's Guide to the Bluebook, Rev.ed. Buffalo: William S. Hein, 2010 [Ready Reference, KF 245 .D85 2010].
  • Prince, Mary M. Prince's Dictionary of Legal Citations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students. 8th ed. Buffalo: William S.Hein, 2011 [Ready Reference, KF 245 .B45 2011].

An alternative legal citation manual is the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation [Closed Reserve, KF 245 .A45 2006], developed by the Association of Legal Writing Directors. While the ALWD manual is not as widely used as The Bluebook, its popularity has grown in recent years, and it is used in a number of law school legal writing programs throughout the United States.

There is also a citation manual specifically geared to California called the California Style Manual: A Handbook of Legal Style for California Courts and Lawyers, 4th ed. [Ready Reference and Closed Reserve, KFC 75 .W5 2000]. This manual should be used if you are filing a document in a California state court.

Finally, if you come across a legal abbreviation and it is not listed in this guide, there are two additional sources that might be helpful to you:

  • Prince, Mary M. Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students. 6th ed. Buffalo: William S.Hein, 2009 [Ready Reference, KF 246 .B46 2009].
  • Raistrick, Donald. Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations. 3d ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2008 [Ready Reference, KD 400 .R24 2008]. (This book focuses on British and other foreign/international abbreviations.)