Skip to content

Law: Citing FAQs

Resources for legal research and writing, including guides to broad areas of law.

General tips

It is important to complete your referencing as you work through your writing, and not to leave it all to the end. This way, you won't forget who said what or where ideas came from, you will save time and ensure you don't plagiarise.

While you are adding in your referencing, do not use 'Above n' or 'Ibid' until you are sure of your final structure. If you move sentences and their references around, those subsequent references won't link back to the correct places anymore and this can be a huge headache.

If you're not sure how to cite a source, try searching AustLII for articles in the Melbourne University Law Review or Melbourne Journal of International Law  to see if and how it has been cited. These journals are edited by the editors of AGLC.


How do I create a footnote?

In Word, click the REFERENCES tab in the toolbar, then click Insert Footnote. 

The footnotes will be created in sequential numbers for the entire document.

How do I position a footnote?

In the text of your document, the footnote number always appears after punctuation, i.e. after a full stop or comma.
Always add a full stop at the end of each footnote citation.
A semicolon is used to separate multiple references in one footnote.


What’s the difference between footnotes and a bibliography?

  • Your bibliography is a list of all the sources that you have referred to or used in your assignment. 
  • Sources should be categorised under headings as per AGLC Rule 1.16
  • Citation of sources is the same as footnotes, EXCEPT that the first author’s name should appear as Surname, First name, eg Smith, John. 
  • There are no full-stops at the end of each source in the bibliography.

Subsequent references

How do I cite a source that I have already referred to?

If the footnotes are immediately before/after each other, you should use 'Ibid'. You can also add in a different pinpoint reference. See the example below. Refer to AGLC Rule 1.4.1 for more details on using 'Ibid'.

If the citations are not immediately before/after each other, you should use 'Above n'. This also applies if they are immediately preceding each other, but there is more than one source in that footnote. See the example below. Refer to AGLC Rule 1.4.2 for more details.

*Important note: You cannot use 'Above n' for cases (see AGLC Rule 2.14) or legislation (see AGLC Rule 3.9). 


Internet Sources

How do I reference something from the Internet?

Electronic versions should only be cited when a print version does not exist.

Electronic journals are covered in AGLC Rule 4.9 and electronic newspapers are covered in AGLC Rule 6.5.3. You can even cite a blog using AGLC Rule 6.15.7.

For other internet materials such as webpages, see AGLC Rule 6.15

The rules generally try to maintain as similar a citation to the print versions as possible. A URL should be included if there is no print version; if in doubt include the URL for ease of access.. 

Sources referring to other sources

How do I reference a source that refers to another source?

You should always consult the original source. However, it may be important for you to show that one source is referred to in another source. See AGLC Rule 1.3 for a table summarising the clauses you can use to achieve this.

For example, you may reference the first resource, then use 'quoting' or 'cited in', and then reference the second resource:

Mason v Freedman [1958] SCR 483, cited in Shelanu Inc v Print Three Franchising Corporation (2003) 64 OR (3d) 533, 556.

Short titles and popular case names

When/how can I abbreviate the title of a source?

Creating a 'short title' can make it easier to refer to a resource that you use multiple times, or that has a long title. You must spell out the full title the first time, and abbreviate it afterwards. Follow AGLC Rule 1.4.3 and also see the example below.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, Parliament of Australia, Opportunity not Opportunism: Improving Conduct in Australian Franchising (2008) 4 (Opportunity not Opportunism Report) ; 6 Opportunity not Opportunism Report, above n 2, 7.

When/how can I use an abbreviated/popular case name?

If the case has a popular name you can use this as a 'short title', following the same steps as above. If a case is referred to more than once you can also create a  abbreviated short title to refer to the case. Remember to spell out the full case name the first time it is referenced. See AGLC Rule 2.1.14 and the example below.

Example for a popular case name:The external affairs power has been interpreted widely in many recent decisions, such as Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1 (‘Tasmanian Dam Case’).

Example for an abbreviated case name:

See also Roxborough v Rothmans of Pall Mall (2001) 208 CLR 516, 544-4 (Gummow J) (‘Roxborough’)

When should I omit the case name in the footnote?

If the case name appears in full (or as a defined short title) in the sentence text accompanying the footnote, it can be omitted from the footnote citation (see AGLC Rule 2.1.15). For example:

example of footnote

Pinpoint references, paragraph numbers and unreported judgments

When do I need a pinpoint reference in my footnote?

You need a pinpoint reference whenever you quote, paraphrase, or use an idea from a source.

How do I write a pinpoint reference?

For general rules, see AGLC Rule 1.1.5

CCH IntelliConnect resources, including cases from law reports published by CCH (eg. Australian Torts Reports) use paragraph numbers instead of page numbers.

To reference CCH IntelliConnect sources you must use the paragraph symbol ¶ followed by the paragraph numbers. The pinpoint will be the page number.

For example:  Mules v Ferguson (2015) Aust Torts Reports ¶82-191, 68 054.

Unreported judgments found online (always reference a reported judgment if possible) do not have page numbers. You can reference only the paragraph number as a pinpoint (within square brackets). This is also known as medium neutral citation (see AGLC Rule 2.8.1). 

For example: Quarmby v Keating [2009] TASSC 90 (9 September 2009) [11]. 

Note: for some older cases, a medium neutral citation will not be available. This has a different format for citation and does include page numbers where available (see AGLC Rule 2.8.2).

For example: Ross v Chambers (Unreported, Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Kriewaldt J, 5 April 1956) 77-8.

Italics and parentheses

Which part of my citation do I italicise?

This depends:

  • For a case - italicise the case name (i.e. the parties)
  • For a statute - italicise the Act title (Bills do not have any italics)
  • For a book - italicise the book title
  • For a journal - italicise the journal name

Where do I put brackets?

This depends:

  • For a case - brackets are for the year e.g. (2015) or [2015] depending on the type of law report.
  • For a statute - brackets are for the jurisdiction e.g. (Vic)

Visit our main citing and referencing page for more information and to view some examples.

Identifying Judges

How do I refer to a judge?

This depends on whether the judge was writing within a judgment ('curially') or not, as well as whether you are referencing them in text or in a footnote citation. See AGLC Rule 1.14.4 for a helpful summary table with examples.

If you need to use an abbreviation in your reference (for example, Justice abbreviated as J) refer to AGLC Rule 2.9.1 for a list of the abbreviations. 


You must reference your sources whenever you quote or paraphrase.

Quotations are covered in AGLC3 Rule 1.5

Quotation example:

Groves’ analysis of the OG judgment that ‘disclosure of academic misconduct should not be limited to formal disciplinary findings or proceedings.' 1

Paraphrase example: 

Groves argues that the decision in the OG case applies to situations beyond university study. 1