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APA Citation Style (7th edition)

Legal Citation and APA

The APA Publication Manual 7th ed. states that "Existing legal references are usually already written in legal style and require few, in any, changes for APA Style reference list entry" (2019, p. 355). However, the APA Publication Manual 7th ed., uses American legal citation styles including the Bluebook as its foundation.

Your instructor may ask you to modify some APA rules to satisfy Canadian legal citation standards.

The major resource for Canadian legal citation is The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (also called The McGill Guide)Camosun Library has the 9th edition, 2018. Call Number: KE 259 C36 2018 at the Lansdowne Research Help desk.  When you are citing a legal source and there is not an appropriate rule in the APA Manual, you should consult the McGill Guide. McGill Guide examples are highlighted in yellow. To read more about McGill Guide citation style, see the Camosun McGill Guide to legal citation guide.

Some APA 7th style modifications to accommodate McGill Guide and Canadian legal citation practices have been provided below as exceptions to APA rules. These examples include explanatory notes. Consult your instructor for their preference.

Overview of APA legal citation:

  • For your References list, use the format given in the examples below for each resource type and order the citations in your References list in alphabetical order. 
  • For your in-text (parenthetical) citations, use the same form as you would in APA for a work with no author (i.e., style of cause or case name, date, page or paragraph number when appropriate). The title or name of a case for an in-text citation is written in italics, i.e. Wue v. Yang.
  • Unlike other reference types in APA style, the style of cause or case name is written in standard type in the reference list citation while the in-text citation is in italic type. (APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 11.3, p.357 and 11.4, Note, p. 358).

Court Cases

Case Reported by the Court with a Neutral Citation (APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 11.4, p.357-361)

The neutral citation is the official case citation issued by the Court and should always be used for citation purposes when available. APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 11.4, p. 357-361.

Elements of an APA citation for cases

In-text (parenthetical) APA citation: 

(Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009)   
[Include the case name and the year of the decision.  The case name or style of cause are italicized for in-text citations. See APA Publication Manual 7th ed.,11.4, Note, p. 358] 

When you have an in-text citation that includes a direct quotation: 

(Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009, para. 5)    
[This example refers the reader to the 5th paragraph of the decision. See APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 8.13, p. 264]

Reference (for References list) APA citation: 

Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009 SCC 16.   

[The Court and date information are included in the neutral citation so you do not add/duplicate this information at the end of your citation - unlike the following citation example]

Reference (for References list) citation using *Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide): 

Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009 SCC 16.   

*The McGill Guide is the standard Canadian citation style and unlike APA 7th style, uses italics for case names in the reference citation. Consult your instructor for their preference.


Case Published in a Reporter (APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 11.4, p. 358 top of page see "citation" bullet).

The following example is for a case reported in the Dominion Law Reports, a print case law reporter that publishes cases from across Canada.  See a list of other commonly cited reporters in the box to the left.

BCSC case citation example

In-text (parenthetical) APA citation: (Name v Name, year, page or paragraph number if needed.)

(Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada, 1996, p.3).     

[This example refers the reader to the 3rd page of the decision. Paragraph numbers (if available) are preferred over page numbers]. 

Reference (for References list) APA citation: Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Court Date). 

Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Justice), 131 D.L.R (4th) 486 (BCSC 1996).

Reference (for References list) citation using *Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide): 

Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Justice), 131 D.L.R (4th) 486 (BCSC 1996).   

*The McGill Guide is the standard Canadian citation style and unlike APA 7th style, uses italics for case names in the reference citation. Consult your instructor for their preference.

Case decision found via Legal Website: (APA Publication Manual 7th ed.,11.4, p. 358, URL is optional, not strictly required but may aid reader)

In-text (parenthetical) APA citation: 

(Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009, paras 14-15).

Reference (for References list) APA citation: Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Court Date). http://www.xxxxxxx

Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009 SCC 16. http://canlii.ca/t/22zdq.

Reference (for References list) APA citation using *Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide) for case name rule only: 

Canada Post v. Lepine, 2009 SCC 16. http://canlii.ca/t/22zdq.   

*The McGill Guide is the standard Canadian citation style and unlike APA 7th style, uses italics for case names in the reference citation. The example above combines both APA for an online source and McGill Guide for italicized case name. For a complete McGill Guide reference citation example for cases from online database services, see the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 9th ed., 3.8, p. E46--E48. Consult your instructor for their preferred use.

Legislation - Online

Citing a Statute (Law or Act) from a Government Website (APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 11.5, p.361)

*Note-- APA Publication Manual 7th ed. does not italicize the title of the statute in the in-text (parenthetical) citation. Your instructor may ask that you modify this APA rule in keeping with the McGill Guide example of italicizing the title of the statute of in-text citations.

This example taken from BC Laws website:

Statute example from website

 

*In-text (parenthetical) citation: (Title of Act, year.)

(Adoption Act, 1996)

Reference (for References list) APA citation: 

Adoption Act, R.S.B.C. c.5 (1996). http://www.bclaws.ca. 

In-text (parenthetical) citation using Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide): (Title of Act, year)

(Adoption Act, 1996)

Reference (for References list) citation using Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide): 

Adoption Act, R.S.B.C. c.5 (1996). http://www.bclaws.ca

Bills - Online

Bills - Federal or Provincial (APA Publication Manual 7th ed., 11.6, Example 16, p.364)

*Note--APA style does not italicize the title of a bill in the in-text (parenthetical) citation. Your instructor may ask that you modify this APA rule in keeping with the McGill Guide example of italicizing the title of legislative materials for in-text citations.

**Note-- APA Publication Manual 7th ed. only provides examples based on the United States legislative bodies, the House (H.R.) and the Senate (S.), either of which needs to be indicated in the references list citation for a United States bill. The template below has been modified for a Canadian context.

 

 

 

*In-text (parenthetical) APA citation: (Title, year)

(Police (Police Complaint Commissioner) amendment act, 2009).

 

**Reference (for References list) APA citation Template: Title [if relevant], Bill number, xxx Leg. (year). URL

Police (Police Complaint Commissioner) amendment act, Bill 7, 38th Leg.(2009).

         https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/bills/billsprevious/5th38th:gov07-1