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How does a person properly cite a legal case?

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Quick Answer

To properly cite a case in most legal documents, rely on the guidelines for citations as delineated in "The Blue Book," according to the Georgetown University Law Library. The specific manner of citation depends on several things, such as the jurisdiction, the court and the type of case cited.

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Full Answer

It is helpful to know the general format for citing cases according to "The Blue Book," says the Georgetown University Law Library. The general format is structured in the following order: the name of the case followed by a comma; the volume number, reporter abbreviation and the first page in which the case appears followed by another comma; the pinpoint; and in parentheses, the abbreviation of the court followed by the year of the case.

The reporter is the record a court keeps of all its cases, in chronological order, states the Georgetown University Law Library. Some courts, such as the Supreme Court, have their cases published in more than one reporter. A "pinpoint" in a citation number is the page number on which the material referenced in the text appears in the reporter. In some legal court documents, the case name is italicized when cited, but in academic legal writing, it is not.

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