Law and Order: McGill Guide to Uniform Legal Citation Rules and Examples


Law and Order: McGill Guide to Uniform Legal Citation Rules and Examples

McGill guide to uniform legal citation is a well-known style mostly used in Canada. Full guide McGill title is The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation. Commonly it is used by legal practitioners, universities, courts, law journals, and other official institutions located in Canada. In this article, we will try to explore more on this interesting Canadian style of citations.

Canadian McGill Guide to Uniform Legal Citation

McGill guide to uniform legal citation was invented in Canada in 1986 and is officially titled as Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation. This citation style was created to set one correct and official standard to use in legal referencing for legal research in Canada. McGill citation guide is bilingual. It is just about law, and it should not be considered in your regular classification essay.

It's another title McGill guide was taken due to the initial publication that was released in McGill Law Journal more than thirty years ago. These days we are using its eighth edition. We will talk about its improvements and changes later. But what you should realize completely is that all law schools, courts, law journals, and practitioners in Canada are using this style on a regular basis and made it a legal citation in Canada.

Students all over the world are familiar with it as a Canadian legal citation guide that serves as a set of different versions of Canadian referencing guides regarding various sources. It can be government documents, jurisprudence, legislation, and even books with journals. Best known as a legal citation Canada guide, McGill legal citation style also has brief sections to use with foreign sources. It is used in the US and UK. Sometimes even for international purposes. There are three main fields guide McGill can be applied to:

  • In-text citations;
  • Footnotes;
  • Bibliographies.

In-text citations and footnotes 

According to the general rules of the updated 9th Canadian McGill, legal writing usually uses footnotes, whereas in-text citations should only be written in memorandums and factums. We listed the core rules and examples of in-text citations and footnotes format in accordance with McGill the 9th edition to help you gain McGill guide quickly.

  • Pinpoint. A pinpoint refers to a specific portion like page/ paragraph/ section/article/ footnote of a text. .
  • Original source. Citation needs to refer to the original source and specific source sections for each document type. 
  • Online references. In case of another format of the content, the writer should refer to that format and include reference (URL) or a digital object identifier (DOI) to let the reader find the source by himself. 
  • Introductory Signals. These signals indicate the relationship between the source and the proposition mentioned in the paper. It is used all the time by default, except  the quoted sources or when the source  title appears for the first time in the text For example, “see, see generally, see also, Contra, etc”. 
  • Short form. Sources that are referenced more than one time, should be skipped to main content in a short form which is dictated by the type of the particular source.
  • Subsequent references. Ibid is used, if  you need to let the reader know that you are including citation to the same source as before. Supra ains to cite a source that was previously referenced, for example, “Short form of the source, supra note X”. 

Bibliography. How to cite:

  • Books. Author, title, edition (if applicable) other elements (if applicable) (place of publication: publisher, year of publication) pinpoint (if applicable)(electronic service) (if applicable).
    Example: Kevin P. McGuinness, Canadian Business Corporations Law Introduction, 3rd ed (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2017) vol 1 at 30.
  • Newspapers. Author,| “Title of Article”, | Newspaper| (Date)|Page (Database Service, if applicable) OR online: .
    Example: Naomi Wolf, “Introduction to the Shame Out of Rape” The Guardian(25 November 2005), online:
  • Journal articles (print/online). Author, “title of article” (year) volume: issue (if applicable)abbreviation of journal page pinpoint (if applicable)(electronic service). Example: Cameron Hutchison, “Understanding Copy Right” (2016) 28 IPJ 315 (WL Can).
  • Legislation (bills, statutes in print /online).Title, statute volume jurisdiction year, chapter, other indexing element, (session or supplement), pinpoint (if applicable). Example: Post-Management, SA 2003, c P-19.5, s.3.
  • Jurisprudence (cases). Style of cause, neutral citation at pinpoint, [short form] (if applicable). Example: Management, 1996 ABCA 274 at para 11 [Vriend ABCA].
  • Government documents. Jurisdiction, legislature, title, legislative session, volume/number (date) pinpoint (speaker) (if applicable). Example: Alberta, Journals of the Legislative Assembly, 29th Leg, 1st Sess, vol 124 (15 June 2015) at 7 (Lois E. Mitchell).

McGill Citation Guide and General Rules

There are few main rules to use McGill guide to uniform legal citation. It is clear that students have to provide their works with proper citation styles. And talking about law and legal studies it is just crucial as most of those studies require their footnotes to be numbered. All the footnotes should be placed at the very bottom of each page and endnotes should appear at the end of the paper.

The initial referencing regarding Canadian McGill guide should be extracted in its full with other things using “ibid” or “supra” markers.

  • Ibid: it is an abbreviation from Latin and stands for “in the same place.” Regarding McGill guide to the uniform legal citation, you should use ibid if you are referencing the same source as the initial citation. One is free to use ibid as a secondary mark to supra or even another ibid.
  • Supra: another Latin word which means “above.” This thing should be used if one has already provided some full citation.

Forms of McGill Guide

There are two main forms of McGill guide to the legal citation to use in legal research:

  • Short forms: in this situation, a student can shorten the form of the source. To be more specific you should create a short form of the case. You will need this to save time and space if you cite one source multiple times. Often this form is used with titles of sources that are longer than three words. One should locate this short form at the end of the initial citation and take it in brackets. If you are citing books or particular articles, just use its author’s last name.
  • Pinpoints: Canadian legal citation is about a serious and proper referencing to another source. You can use it to present your main evidence and the experts do not use it to identify the source completely. They use it to mark a certain paragraph or page of the source they use. That is why it is called a pinpoint.
Important note. Please avoid any types of repetitions. There is no use of repeating the same information if it is already provided in the content of the citation. There is one simple example that describes this requirement. If you have mentioned the name of the source in your paper’s content, there is no need to repeat its title once again in the reference itself.

Legal Citation Canada for Verdicts

Here are few McGill guide to uniform legal citation tips to consider:

  • Neutral citations: if you have a neutral citation, please place it after the title of the case. In 2001 it was decided to release their verdicts in this very style. They just include the year, the number of the verdict, and the court itself. Here it is: “2002 SCC 5”.
  • Case reporters: all those verdicts can also be gathered in one Case report. They are published in this style also. The main organizing marker is the year, volume, and series.

Changes from the 7th edition of McGill Legal Citation Guide

We have mentioned before that these days we are dealing with the 9th edition of guide McGill. Here are its differences from the previous edition:

1. Case Citations. 9th edition of McGill dispenses with the necessity of a second case citation when the paper has a neutral citation, but the use of main citation and parallel citation is highly recommended in case the neutral citation is missing.

2. Parliamentary Papers. 9th edition of McGill provided changes to Parliamentary papers citations. For example, “11th Parl, 2nd Sess” according to the McGill 8th, changed to: “11-2.” Also, bills are an acceptance and are cited as before; however, citing bills, it should be another order, like Sess, Parl. 

3. Online Materials. McGill 9th indicates as preferable an addition of the archived URL, for instance, “perma.cc.” That means, that the 9th edition of McGill does not require the creation of an archived URL for each online source.
  • Twitter posts differ:
  • The author’s name changed from handle to the username
  • Time should be mentioned in 24-hour time format
  • McGill 9th does not involve the full text of the tweet post
4. URLs. McGill 9th requires URLs to be in angle brackets, instead of a backslash. For example, ⟨https://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/Case-Studies.pdf ⟩

Bibliographies by Guide McGill

You will deal with footnotes and endnotes in most cases and sometimes it is very useful to learn bibliography format of legal citation Canada which should be attached to the end of your document. It is a solid and useful addition to all of your footnotes and endnotes.

The bibliography is a list of all sources used in the paper you provide. Please note that you should include even those sources you have never cited in your paper, be attentive, and note everything when preparing your work.

With the above guide, you will be able to format your paper like a pro. However, if you want your paper to be formatted flawlessly according to the McGill guide, you can turn to online writing services. Our writers can not only properly format the paper for you but also proofread or complete your paper from scratch.