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Current Legal Resources at NYPL: How to read a legal citation

What is a Legal Citation?

A Legal citation is a way of listing of the referenced to items that would be considered an authoritative document and information source,  such as a state or federal constitution, a statute (public law), a reported court case, a treatise, or a law review article. 
A standard citation includes first the volume number, then the title of the source, (usually abbreviated) and lastly, a page or section number.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This guide is not meant to provide guidance for correct legal citation format; rather, it is a basic guide to understanding the parts of a legal citation and a list of sources for looking up legal abbreviations. 
Be sure to follow the rules of your particular court for proper citation format. Court Rules can be viewed in the WestlawNext Patron Access database in the Statutes and Court Rules section.

Anatomy of a Legal Citation

  • Example of Court Case Citation: 59 N.Y.2d 688
    Name of the case: Wehringer v. Helmsley-Spear, Inc.
    Volume of the court reporter series it was published in:  59
    Reporter series abbreviation: N.Y.2d-New York Reports, Second Series
    First page number in the court reporter series volume  688

  • Example of Statute Citation:  NY Bus Corp § 1306
    NY Bus Corp: New York State Business Corporation Law
     §: Statute Section Symbol/Section Number
    Use the Bluebook: a Uniform System of Citation (listed in Legal Citation section) for abbreviations of subject names of statue sections

  • Example of Article: "Copyright in the Texts of the Law: Historical Perspectives", 9 NYU J. Intell. Prop. & Ent. L. 191 (2020)
    Volume of the law journal:  9
    Law Journal Title series abbreviation: NYU J. Intell. Prop. & Ent. L.-NYU Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law
    First page of the article:  191

Legal Citation-Style Guides & Dictionaries

The following items listed will help you with the sources used in most legal citations so that you can find them in the library catalog.