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Manual of Legal Citation/Court & Litigation Documents

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Manual of Legal Citation
Table of Contents
Indigo Book.png
Foreword and Introduction
Background Rules
Rule 1. Two Types of Legal Documents
Rule 2. Typeface Standards
Rule 3. In-Text Citations
Rule 4. Signals
Rule 5. Capitalization Rules
Rule 6. Signals for Supporting Authority
Rule 7. Signals for Comparison
Rule 8. Signals for Contradictory Authority
Rule 9. Signals for Background Material
Rule 10. Order of Authorities Within Each Signal / Strength of Authority
Rule 11. Full citation
Rule 12. Court & Year
Rule 13. Weight of Authority and Explanatory Parenthetical
Rule 14. History of the Case
Rule 15. Short Form Citation for Cases
Statutes, Rules, Regulations, and Other Legislative & Administrative Materials
Rule 16. Federal Statutes
Rule 17. State Statutes
Rule 18. Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Restatements, and Uniform Acts
Rule 19. Administrative Rules and Regulations
Rule 20. Federal Taxation Materials
Rule 21. Legislative Materials
Rule 22. Short Form Citation of Legislative and Administrative Materials
Rule 23. Sources and Authorities: Constitutions
Court & Litigation Documents
Rule 24. Citing Court or Litigation Documents from Your Case
Rule 25. Citing Court or Litigation Documents from Another Case
Rule 26. Short Form Citation for Court Documents
Rule 27. Capitalization Within the Text of Court Documents and Legal Memoranda
Books & Non-Periodicals
Rule 28. Full Citation for Books & Non-Periodicals
Rule 29. Short Form Citation for Books & Non-Periodicals
Journals, Magazines, & Newspaper Articles
Rule 30. Full Citation for Journals, Magazines & Newspaper Articles
Rule 31. Short Form Citation for Journals, Magazines & Newspaper Articles
Internet Sources
Rule 32. General Principles for Internet Sources
Rule 33. Basic Formula for Internet Sources
Rule 34. Short Form Citations for Internet Sources
Explanatory Parentheticals
Rule 35. General Principles for Explanatory Parentheticals
Rule 36. Order of parentheticals
Rule 37. General Principles for Quotations
Rule 38. Alterations of Quotations
Rule 39. Omissions in Quotations
Rule 40. Special Rules for Block Quotations
Table 1. Federal Judicial and Legislative Materials
Table 2. Federal Administrative and Legislative Materials
Table 3. U.S. States and Other Jurisdictions
Table 4. Required Abbreviations for Services
Table 5. Required Abbreviations for Legislative Documents
Table 6. Required Abbreviations for Treaty Sources
Table 7. Required Abbreviations for Arbitral Reporters
Table 8. Required Abbreviations for Intergovernmental Organizations
Table 9. Required Abbreviations for Court Names
Table 10. Required Abbreviations for Titles of Judges and Officials
Table 11. Required Abbreviations for Case Names In Citations
Table 12. Required Abbreviations for Geographical Terms
Table 13. Required Abbreviations for Document Subdivisions
Table 14. Required Abbreviations for Explanatory Phrases
Table 15. Required Abbreviations for Institutions
Table 16. Required Abbreviations for Publishing Terms
Table 17. Required Abbreviations for Month Names
Table 18. Required Abbreviations for Common Words Used In Periodical Names
Table 19. Table of Citation Guides
Table 20. Tables of Correspondence

R24. Citing Court or Litigation Documents from Your Case

The full citation for a court or litigation document includes:
  1. Document title
  2. The exact page and line (or paragraph) you’re referring to
  3. Date of document
  4. Electronic Case Filing number
  5. Citations to documents

R24.1. Document title

Use the tables to figure out what to abbreviate.
  • Exception: Never abbreviate if the abbreviation would confuse the reader.
  • Always abbreviate an official record, such as the appellate record, to “R.”
Example: For their own profit and advantage, Defendants are misappropriating the non-transformed, copyrighted material in which each Plaintiff has invested heavily. Compl. for Copyright Infringement 11.

R24.2. Page and line

The exact page and line (or paragraph) you’re referring to
  • Use “at” if citing to an appellate record.
  • Don’t use “p.” before the page number.
  • Use commas only if necessary to avoid confusion.
  • Use colon to separate page and line.

R24.3. Date

Date of document, if the date is particularly relevant or omitting the date could cause confusion
  • Miller Aff. ¶ 8, Jan. 12, 2015.
  • Pl.’s Br. 4–5, May 7, 2014.
  • Trial Tr. vol. 3, 45, Mar. 5, 2015.

R24.4. Electronic Case Filing number

Electronic Case Filing number, if applicable :
  • Include an ECF number in your own case whenever a document has been filed electronically. For other cases, the ECF number is optional unless it is necessary to find the document.
  • Find the ECF number on PACER, a federal case management system that assigns each case document a document number.
  • Use the page number on the original document, not the ECF page number.

R24.5. Parentheses

Citations to court or litigation documents may also be enclosed in parentheses:
  • (Mem. Opp’n 7)


  • Defendants’ evidence in support of their “fraud on the copyright office” defense consists of nothing more than unsupported assertions in their Motion, multiple irrelevant affidavits from previously undisclosed third parties, inadmissible correspondence between counsel, and examples of prior lawsuits that all ended short of judicial determination. Pl.’s Resp. to Defs.’ Mot. for Summ. J. at 14.
  • Pl.’s Compl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 147.
  • Sanchez Dep. 1:1–2, Jan. 3, 2005, ECF No. 8.

R25. Citing Court or Litigation Documents from Another Case

R25.1. Full citation to case

After you cite to the document according to the rules set out directly above, add the full citation for the case where it comes from, and end with the case docket number in parentheses.

R25.2. Case with no decision

If there has been no decision in the case you’re citing, then replace the year in parentheses with the date on which the filing was made.
  • Pl.’s Resp. to Defs.’ Mot. for Summ. J. 14, Martinez-Mendoza v. Champion Int’l Corp., 340 F.3d 1200 (11th Cir. 2003) (No. 06-19139).
  • Compl. 5, Parsell v. Shell Oil Co., 421 F. Supp. 1275 (D. Conn. 1976).
  • Compl. 2, Jones v. Smith, No. 09-230 (9th Cir. Apr. 17, 2015)

R26. Short Form Citation for Court Documents

Use a short form citation for court documents when:
  1. there is no mistaking what the short citation refers to;
  2. the full citation is not too far away (the full citation can be to the case itself, any other document from the case, or to the same document); and
  3. the reader has easy access to the full citation.
Don’t use “id.” for court documents, unless it saves a lot of space. Unlike cases, court documents may be cited using supra.
Full Form (Original citation) Short Form Citation (subsequent reference)
Pl.’s Resp. to Defs.’ Mot. for Summ. J. at 14, Martinez-Mendoza v. Champion Int’l Corp., 340 F.3d 1200 (11th Cir. 2003) (No. 06-19139). Pl.’s Resp. to Defs.’ Mot. for Summ. J. at 14, Martinez-Mendoza, 340 F.3d 1200 (No. 06-19139).
Decl. of Martha Woodmansee at 7, Salinger v. Colting, 641 F. Supp. 2d 250 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (No. 09 Civ. 05095). Decl. of Martha Woodmansee at 7, Salinger, 641 F. Supp. 2d 250 (No. 09 Civ. 05095).

R27. Capitalization Within the Text of Court Documents and Legal Memoranda

R27.1. When to capitalize "Court"

Capitalize “Court” if:
  • you are referring to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • you are referring to the court you’re sending the document to.
  • you are naming the court in full.
Example: The U.S. Court of Appeals held that actress’s performance satisfied minimum requirements for performance to be copyrightable.
But: The Aalmuhammed court explained that “the word author is traditionally used to mean the originator or the person who causes something to come into being.”

R27.2. When to capitalize party pronouns

Capitalize “Plaintiff,” “Defendant,” “Appellant” and “Appellee,” unless you are referring to parties from other litigation.
  • Example: The Court concluded that it was unclear whether the Plaintiff had a copyright interest in her acting performance.
  • But, if referring to parties from other litigation: In Bobbs-Merrill the plaintiff-copyright owner sold its book with a printed notice announcing that any retailer who sold the book for less than one dollar was liable for copyright infringement.

R27.3. Court document titles to capitalize

Capitalize court document titles if:
  • the document is filed in your dispute and
  • you’re using the exact title or short form. (Do not abbreviate court documents within the text.)

R27.4. Do no capitalize types of court documents

Do not capitalize the name for a type of court document, such as an injunction, petition, etc.