Introduction to Basic Legal Citation

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Peter Martin, Cornell Law School

Pub Date:

ISBN 13:

Publisher: CALI's eLangdell® Press

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Reviewed by Robert Kerr, Professor, University of Oklahoma, on 1/13/2015.

This book is comprehensive in relation to its objective, which is not comprehensiveness in terms of a citation reference work but rather in providing … read more


Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Basic Legal Citation: What and Why?
  • Chapter 2: How to Cite
  • Chapter 3: Examples - Citations Of
  • Chapter 4: Abbreviations and Omissions Used in Citations
  • Chapter 5: Underlining and Italics
  • Chapter 6: Placing Citations in Context
  • Chapter 7: Reference Tables


About the Book

This is not a comprehensive citation reference work. Its limited aim is to serve as a tutorial on how to cite the most widely referenced types of U.S. legal material, taking account of local norms and the changes in citation practice forced by the shift from print to electronic sources. It begins with an introductory unit. That is followed immediately by one on "how to cite" the categories of authority that comprise a majority of the citations in briefs and legal memoranda. Using the full table of contents one can proceed through this material in sequence. The third unit, organized around illustrative examples, is intended to be used either for review and reinforcement of the prior "how to" sections or as an alternative approach to them. One can start with it since the illustrative examples for each document type are linked back to the relevant "how to" principles. 

The sections on abbreviations and omissions, on typeface (italics and underlining), and on how citations fit into the larger project of legal writing that follow all support the preceding units. They are accessible independently and also, where appriopriate, via links from the earlier sections. Finally, there are a series of cross reference tables tying this introduction to the two major legal citation reference works and to state-specific citation rules and practices. 

The work is also designed to be used by those confronting a specific citation issue. For such purposes the table of contents provides one path to the relevant material. Another, to which the bar at the top of each major section provides ready access, is a topical index. This index is alphabetically arrayed and more detailed than the table of contents. Finally, the search function in your e-book reader software should allow an even narrower inquiry, such as one seeking the abbreviation for a specific word (e.g.,institute) or illustrative citations for a particular state, Ohio, say.

If the device on which you are reading this e-book allows it, the pdf format will enable you to print or to copy and paste portions, large or small, into other documents. However, since the v work is filled with linked cross references and both the table of contents and index rely on them, most will find a print copy far less useful than the electronic original. 

About the Contributors


Peter W. Martin, the Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Emeritus, and former dean of Cornell Law School, writes, speaks, and consults on topics that concern the impact of technology on the functioning of law and legal institutions.

After his graduation from Harvard Law School, Professor Martin spent three years in the Air Force General Counsel's Office, and then began his teaching career at the University of Minnesota Law School in 1967. He joined the Cornell Law School Faculty in 1972, and served as Dean from 1980 to 1988.

Professor Martin co-founded Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) with Thomas R. Bruce in 1992, the first Internet law resource and still the most heavily used non-profit legal Web site. In addition to serving as the LII's co-director for over a decade, Professor Martin has created an electronic treatise and database on Social Security law, a Web reference, ebook, and accompanying online tutorials on legal citation, and written numerous articles on uses of digital technology in law and legal education. Between 1996 and 2007 he offered law courses employing electronic materials prepared by him to students at over a dozen law schools via the internet. His most recent articles are available on SSRN. He blogs at: