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Most Commonly Used Citation Style Guide from Blue Book, APA & the Indian Citation Guide with Illustrations

Case Studies, Legal Research,

Legal citation is cardinal to authentic and credible legal research and legal writing. The main objective of legal citation is to lead the exact portion or narrative of the document which is used by the author or researcher which is the original source . The genesis of the source of information may be traced back and read in the given context in detail by the readers as dim fit.

It makes research more evidence based so that it can be corroborated and verified as required. This clearly adds more weightage and accuracy to research, writing. It is also ethical as it gives recognition to the original author and his work the requisite due and acknowledgement.

It serves another main purpose of reducing plagiarism as well, as failing to refer to the source may indicate a shoddy work of duplicity and may qualify as plagiarised work.

In India, largely in legal research writing three major forms of citation are referred and used in legal writing particularly among law journal across universities and other publication houses are the APA, The Blue Book and the recent Standard Indian Legal Citation style guide.

Though no standard citation is uniformly followed in Indian legal research writing. Besides no one citation style is adequate to provide templates for referring to all secondary sources used in research writing. The limitation of both these citations namely the APA and the Blue book are that these are not accustomed to the Indian legal sources. The format prescribed there may not particularly meet the needs of Indian legal researchers. In addition to that these formats create more inconsistency or lack of uniformity in legal citation style. Therefore, in light of lack of standardised uniform legal citation style in India, the contemporary Standard Indian Legal Citation style guide. Though in India the case law or the judgements are referred through major reporters as SCC, AIR.

Some of the major citation style guide with illustration are listed for your better understanding as below:

The secondary sources as Book , Journals, newspapers , online portals, Acts , Cases are to be cited under the prescribed citation style as following :

How to Cite BOOKS by Single , Two Authors or More Authors

Under APA Format Citation Guide

The surname of the Author, Year, Page no. indicated by p.
MX (2017) states… Or …(MX, 2017), (MX, 2017, p.104).

The surname of both authors is stated with either ‘and’ or & between, Year, Page no. indicated by p.

MX and SX (2017) Or ( MX & SX, 2017). Difference / pointers

The surname of all authors stated with either comma , ‘and’ or & between, Year , Page no. indicated by p.

OR Alternatively, The surname of first author followed by et al
MX, Sx, and Tx (2017) Or (Mitchell, Smith, & Thomson, 2017).
MX, et al (2017) Or (MX, et al, 2017).

The surname of first author only followed by et al
MX, et al (2017) Or (MX, et al, 2017).
Difference / pointers

In case, the author of the book is unknown, the title of the book, year should be referred.
(A guide to citation, 2017).

How to cite BOOK by Authors – Blue book 19th edition

Volume No. (if any) NAME OF AUTHOR, TITLE OF THE BOOK pg. cited (Editors/Translators Name, edition cited year).
2 , Fd.Pm , THE BOOK OF LAW , Px.205-06 (2d ed. 1911).

Notes – Under Blue book, the first name of author has to be mentioned before Surname  Where as in APA, the surname of author is only mentioned Not the first name.

  • Under Blue book , Name of publisher and Name of editor, is to be mentioned, Where as in APA, Name of publisher and Name of editor  is not mentioned.
  • The common point between the blue book and APA is that under both citation guidelines
  • Names of  two authors has to be separated by „&‟., the rest pattern follows the same.

How to Cite NEWSPAPER Online –

How to Cite a Newspaper Articles in Print or Online in APA Format

Surname of News Correspondent / Author, initial(s). Year, Month Day, Title of the newspiece, Name  of Newspaper, Page no. as p. or pp. Retrieved from URL*
MX, (2020.07.17). Prison reforms, TNX,p.9. Retrieved from  https://www….tnx.com/reference-/…

How to Cite a Newspaper Articles in Print or Online in BLUE BOOK Format

Name of News Correspondent,Title of the newspiece,Abbrv. of name of newspaper, Month Date, Year, at pg. no. URL( web link)
MX, Prison reforms, TNX, (07.17.2020.) p.9. Retrieved from  https://www….tnx.com/reference-/…

Notes –

  • In APA the surname of news correspondent is mentioned where as in blue book the first name of the news correspondent is mentioned.
  • The order of date including months /date/ year is distinguishable,
  • In APA Date is placed as Year, Month, Day
  • In Bluebook, Date is placed as Month, Day, Year,

How to Cite website or online resources INTERNET

Author surname, initial(s). (Year, month day). Title of the web based article. Retrieved from URL
MX, (2020, July 07), Prison reforms, Retrieved from  https://www.prisonreforms.com.

Blue book 19thedt.

  • First Name of the Author, Name of article, Domain name,  (Month date, year, time), URL or Weblink. 

MX, Prison reforms, WebPortalTBNX, (07.17.2020.), https://www….tnx.com/reference-/…

How to Cite CASES

APA format

  • The case title or the case name, in italics, year of judicial pronouncement or decision in small brackets or parentheses ( ), volume number with abbreviated title of the case reporter, the page no. mention only the starting page no, Name of Court as abbreviated  in small brackets or parentheses ( ),      

In Re Baby M, 525 A.2d 1128 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1987)

How to Cite CASES

BLUE BOOK Format

Name of Party with Versus as V., Vol. No. of Case Reporter, Case Reporter Abbrv. Form , First Page no. of Case, also mention  the Specific Page Reference (Year) in bracket or parentheses(). 

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 164 (1973)

Case title or name, (year as cited in reporter in small bracket or parentheses ) Vol No. of case Reporter in Abbreviated form , First page no. of decision (year of decision ( mention name of country as India,) 

ADM Jabalpur vs Shivkant Shukla, 2  SCC 521, (1976)(India).

Notes –

  • In blue Book the case name needs not be in Italics. But in APA format the case name has to be in Italics.
  • In blue book there is mention of specific page no of judgement along with the first page no. This is better for easy reference.
  • In both APA and Blue book citation style guide, the name of case reporter is in abbreviated form.
  • In both APA and Blue book citation style guide, the name of the Court is in abbreviated form and in small brackets or parentheses(). 
  • Though blue book provides a specific style of citing Indian case and also the manner of citing US cases.
  • The most cited law report series containing Supreme Court decisions is SCC followed by AIR and SCR. Indian cases are often reported in multiple report series – for example: (1970) AIR 1133, [1970] 3 SCR 383, (1970) KLT 181(SC), (1970)1 SCC 189. 

How to cite CONSTITUTION, STATUTES /ACTS

  • APA CITATION FORMAT

Mention  Full Name of the Act,  section of the USC or a California code in small bracket or parentheses() year all together .

 (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974)

  • It may be pertinent to note that in US or California law , the specific name and year of the statute is not always available, in such cases where the name is not available,
  • Mention the  ( section of the USC or a California code in small bracket or parentheses()year if available .(18 U.S.C. § 2258)

Citing Constitution as

  • Name of constitution in capitals, article, section.

U.S. Const. art. IV, § 3.

BLUE BOOK CITATION

  • U.S.  Statutory Law / Act

Official name of Act, U.S.C. title number Abbreviation of Code cited, sections symbols and range of sections referring to statute (Date of Code edition cited). 
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act 42 U.S.C., 88 Stat. 4, §§5101–5106 (1974) .

  • Constitution in abbreviated name, ( mention  amendment in abbreviated form , No of amendment cited) , article, section cited in roman symbol

U.S. Const. art. I, § 4, cl. 2. 38.
U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 2.

How to Cite JOURNAL

APA CITATION FORMAT

  • Sur name and the first name as Initials of Author of article, year in small bracket or parentheses (), Title of the research paper or article, Name of Journal, Bol. Series no. , Page no from beginning  to last page denoted by -.

Mxmn, J.A. (2020).  Trends in criminal justice system BRX Journal of AMN Legal Studies Vol. 9 Issue 1 , 15-25.

  • In case the journal is online, the weblink should be add as Retrieved from  https://www.

Mxmn, J.A. (2020).  Trends in criminal justice system, BRX Journal of AMN Legal Studies Vol. 9 Issue 1 , 15-25Retrieved from https://brx.blob.core.net…

BLUE BOOK FORMAT

J.A. Mxmn, Trends in criminal justice system, Vol. 9 Issue 1 ,Journal of AMN Legal Studies, 17, 25 (2020).

  • In case the journal is online , the weblink should be add as starting with http…

J.A. Mxmn, Trends in criminal justice system, Vol. 9 Issue 1 ,Journal of AMN Legal Studies, 17, 25 (2020), http://www….com ..

Standard Indian Legal Citation

Standard Indian Legal Citation(SILC) has been formally initiated  as recently as in the year 2018 with the support of law students, researchers  and academic from the premiere law institutions across India with the major objective to simplify the and also to standardise and make the legal citation style more uniform across numerous law journals. This uniform and standard system also is more amenable to the Indian legal resources and reference. As the western citation style guide do not provide necessarily for the citation style for the cases, statutes.

How to cite: Name of Author(s), Title of Book, Page Number (Editors(s), Publication House edition, Year in small bracket or parentheses ()).

M.P. Jain, Indian Constitutional Law 98 (Kamal Law House, Calcutta, 5th edn., 1998).

  • How to cite NEWSPAPER Print /Online

Name of Author(s) (if given), Title of News piece /Article, Name of newspaper( Date as DmY in small bracket or parentheses (), URL or weblink, , last accessed on… dd/mm/yyyy.

SKX, SC dismisses plea against.., TNX Times, ( Date as DMY in small bracket or parentheses (), URL or weblink, , last accessed on… dd/mm/yyyy.

Name of author(s), Title of Article, Full Name of Journal/ Magazine / online database, ( Date as DMY in small bracket or parentheses (),URL, last seen on dd/mm/yyyy.
SKX, No Record of Surrogate Mother and Child at Regional, (  04/06/2014),www…URL, last seen on 20/07 /2020.

  • How to cite NEWSPAPER ONLINE –

Name of Author(s) of news piece or news article, Title of News Article, Name of newspaper, ( Date as DMY in small bracket or parentheses (), (date), URL, last seen on Date as DMY
SKX, The quantum of punishment in Surrogacy bill, EcnxTmx, ( 14/11/2017) available at last seen on www.economic…com 20/07/2020

Notes –

  • The URL may be prefixed with available at
  • The date of publication of news should be put in small bracket But the date of last accessed need not be in small bracket.

Names of the Parties, Case Reporter name in Abbreviated form year and Citation.
Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461, 1480.

  • How to cite ACT /STATUTE

Section number/, Sub clause Number in small bracket or parentheses (),Full Name of the statute, Year.
S. 144(1), The Criminal Procedure Code 1973

  • How to cite INDIAN CONSTITUTION

Art., Sub clause Number in small bracket or parentheses (), / Schedule the Constitution of India.
Art. 14, (1) the Constitution of India.

Name of Author of article(s), Title of Article/ research paper, Volume no. | Full Name of Journal| Starting page, Cited page (year in small bracket or parentheses).
SKX, Legality of surrogacy.., 1, IJLP, 10, 15 (2015)

Name of Author of article (s), Title of Article/ research paper , Volume no. | Full Name of Journal| Starting page, Cited page (year in small bracket or parentheses ), URL or weblink , last seen or accessed  on dd/mm/yyyy.

The URL may be prefixed by available at ..

SKX, Legality of surrogacy.., 1, IJLP, 10, 15 (2015) available at http//…www… last seen or accessed  on 20/07/2020.

At the outset, it may be noted that though in India , most journal s or legal portals the on line or print publications houses have their own prescribed citation format which is to be complied strictly for submitting the research for publication, the citation style is prescribed in the  respective websites too,.. the researcher or author  must peruse the same and follow the same, this is verified by the editor before final print and publication.

However in legal research degrees as LLM dissertation and also under M.Phil, Ph.D the citation style is prescribed by the concerned university  which is to be followed by the research scholars.

However a broad understanding of major citations style helps one prepare for better and authentic writing so that the legal writing ad research is authentic and easy to check for relevant facts , data and narratives as referred in. The ethics of writing research also mandates compliance with uniform  citation style.

-Dr. Sonali Kusum
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