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Self Paced Lesson - Legal Citation - Subject Guide

General Rules

General Rules

The General Rules of the AGLC, detailed in Part 1, must always be followed.

These rules explain when you should footnote, how to quote and a variety of other key points. 


Rule 1.1.1  When to Footnote

Footnotes should be used to:

  • provide authority for a proposition
  • acknowledge a source relevant to an argument
  • enable the retrieval of relevant sources and quotations that appear in the text
  • provide additional information that is not appropriate to include in the text

Direct quotations should always be followed by a footnote unless their source is provided in full in the text.

The first citation of a source should appear in full.


Rule 1.5.1 Quotation marks

Short quotations (of three lines or less) should be incorporated into the text using single quotation marks.

Rule 1.1.2  The Position of Footnote Numbers

Footnote numbers should appear after the punctuation at the end of a sentence.

However, footnote numbers may appear directly after the relevant text (after any punctuation except em-dashes) if this is necessary for the sake of clarity

Rule 1.1.3  Multiple Sources in Footnotes

Where multiple sources are cited in one footnote, a semicolon (;) should be used to separate the sources.

For instance, when there are two relevant but different sources that provide authority to what is said in the body of the text.

Rule 1.1.4  Closing Punctuation in Footnotes

A full stop should appear at the end of every footnote.

Rule 1.1.6  Pinpoint References

Footnotes should include a pinpoint reference when referring to a specific page, paragraph, footnotes or other section of a source.

Pinpoint references to a page should appear as a number.
Pinpoint references to a paragraph should appear as a number within square brackets.

Rule 1.4.1  Subsequent References General Rule

The first citation of a source should appear in full (rule 1.1.1).

When citing a previously cited source, a shortened form of the citation may be provided with a cross-reference in parentheses to the footnote number in which the citation may be found in full.

Rule 1.4.2  References Within a Text

A footnote may be used to direct a reader to another portion of the same text using 'above' or 'below'.

'Above' and 'below' are used for citations from the same source that occur in non-sequential footnotes.
For instance, I am citing source A in footnote 1 and 3, but source B is in footnote 2.
'Above n' is to be used in footnote 3 to refer to source A in footnote 1.

Rule 1.4.3  Ibid

Use ibid to refer to a source in the immediately preceding footnote, including any pinpoints, where that source was the only source mentioned, whether or not the source was cited in full.

Ibid should be capitalised if it appears at the start of a footnote.

When using ibid with pinpoint references:

  • if the pinpoint is the same as the above footnote, ibid is all that is required
  • if the pinpoint differs, use ibid followed by the new pinpoint. There is no punctuation between ibid and the pinpoint.

'Above n' is to be used where ibid cannot be used as there are multiple reference in the immediately preceding footnote.

Rule 1.4.4  Short Titles

Short titles are a shortened form of the title of a source.

A short title should be provided at the end of the first full citation of a source so that it is clear that this refers to the source. 

The short title should appear in italic text and be enclosed in (non-italic) single quotation marks and parentheses (round brackets) after any pinpoints in the original citation.

Specific rules on what constitutes a short title are found through the AGLC, see rule 3.5 for short titles of Acts, delegated legislation, Bills and other legislative materials.


In text reference:

These decisions were Pape v Federal Commissioner of Taxation ('Pape')81 and Williams v Commonwealth [No 2] ('Williams [No 2]').82


81 (2009) 238 CLR 1 ('Pape')

82 (2014) 252 CLR 416 ('Williams [No 2]')

Rule 1.5  Quotations

Quotations of 3 lines or less should be incorporated into the text using single quotation marks.

Quotations of 4 lines or more should appear indented from the left margin, in a smaller font size, and without quotation marks.

Legislative and treaty extracts, however long, may also appear this way.

Quotation should appear exactly as they do in the original source.

Check the AGLC for exceptions.

Rule 1.5.6  Closing Punctuation of Quotations

Quotations of 3 lines or less should not have closing punctuation included.

Quotations of 4 lines or more should have the closing punctuation included in the quotation.

Rule 4.1.2  Multiple Authors

One, two or three authors - include all authors.

The word 'and' should separate the names of the last two authors.

Four or more authors - include first author, followed by 'et al'. 

2  James Edelman and Elise Bant, Unjust Enrichment (Hart Publishing, 2nd ed, 2016).

3  Paul Rishworth et al, The New Zealand Bill of Rights (Oxford University Press, 2003).
5  Edelman and Bant (n 2) 260. See Rishworth et al (n 3).

Rule 4.4 Uniform Resource Locator ('URL')

Include a URL to aid retrieval

Enclose the URL within pointed brackets ('< >')

Place the URL at the end of the citation after any pinpoints, but before a short title

Do not include retrieval date

Rule 1.12.2 Heading Levels

Heading Level Attributes
I HEADING LEVEL ONE Upper-case Roman numeral not italicised; heading in large and small capitals and centred
A Heading Level Two Upper-case letter not italicised; heading italicised and centred
1 Heading Level Three Arabic numeral not italicised; heading italicised and left-aligned
(a) Heading Level Four Lower-case letter and heading italicised and left-aligned
(i) Heading Level Five Lower-case Roman numeral and heading italicised and left-aligned



Case law and journal citations are made up of the abbreviation for the case report series or journal.
To find the unabbreviated case report series or journal title you can look at a number of different sources:

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

Raistrick's Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations

The Australian Guide to Legal Citation (ALGC) Referencing Guide

The La Trobe University Legal Abbreviations Database

When in CaseBase in Lexis Advance you can access an Abbreviation/Subject List from the help menu.

LCANZ - Legal Citations of Aotearoa New Zealand

Insert Footnotes in Word

Instructions for inserting footnotes into a Word Document.