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APA Citation Style (7th Edition)

Legislation & Case Law

Legal References in APA

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) Chapter 11 Legal References: “In APA Style, most legal materials are cited in the standard legal citation style used for legal reference across all disciplines.” The APA manual only provides examples from the United States and the United Nations and suggests, “for more information on preparing these and other kinds of legal references, consult The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation” (2020, p. 355). 

For Canadian legal citations consult the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (10th ed.), also known as "The McGill Guide". Citing according to the McGill Guide would be well within APA standards. 

For additional examples and further information on the McGill Guide refer to the Legal Citation Guide

Legislation & Case Law

Citing Statutes 

The citation for an act or statute tells you the name of the act, the jurisdiction where it was passed (federal or a province/territory), the year it was passed, and the volume and chapter number where it is found. Example:


Administration of Estates Act, RSA 2000, c A-2.

Note: This means that the Administration of Estates Act of Alberta will be chapter A-2 in the 2000 Revised Statutes of Alberta. There are a minimum of five elements in statute citation, which applies to provincial and federal statutes.


Citing Bills

A bill is a proposed act tabled in a legislature or parliament to be considered, debated, amended, and potentially passed into a statute or act. As there are multiple versions on a bill, and some bills are never passed as acts, it is important to note which version of a bill is being referenced. Example:


Bill passed into law:  Bill C-34, An Act to provide jurisdiction over education on First Nation lands in British Columba, 1st Sess, 39th Parl, 2006 (assented to 12 December 2006).

Bill not passed into law: Bill C-6, An Act Respecting the safety of consumer products, 2nd Sess, 40th Parl, 2009 (third reading 12 June 2009). 


Citing Cases 

Canadian courts, and many administrative tribunals, have adopted neutral citations for cases since the late 1990s. Neutral citations are the preferred citation and are issued by the court or tribunal. If no neutral citation for the decision is provided, then a parallel citation either to a print reporter citation or citation to an electronic source is needed. Never create a neutral citation if one does not exist. Example (Neutral Citation): 


Vriend v Alberta, 1996 ABCA 274.

Neutral citation format: Case Name, year | court/tribunal | decision number | pinpoint if applicable. 


Text Citations of Legal Materials (section 11.3)

“Although the reference format for legal materials differs from that of other kinds of works cited in APA publications, in-text citations are formed in approximately the same way and serve the same purpose. Most legal reference entries begin with the title of the work; as a result, most in-text citations consist of the title and year” (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 357). Example:


within a sentence: Vriend v Alberta (1996)

at the end of a sentence: (Vriend v Alberta, 1996)

Additional Tips

Abbreviations in Legal Citations

Legal citations are largely made up of abbreviations. For help with these abbreviations see 

Cardiff Index to Legal AbbreviationsCanada's System of Justice, and Duhaime's Legal Citations - Canada


Including URLs in Legal Citations

The McGill Guide does not require URLs be included in citations for cases, legislation, or parliamentary documents. However, the APA Manual does recommend the inclusion of URLs where it will aid retrieval. For this reason, it is to the writers discretion as to whether or not they will include URLs to legal citations within an APA style paper. If a URL is included, it can be added at the end of the citation without any preceding or following punctuation: 

Privacy Act, RSC 1985, c p-21.