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Legal research and writing

Introduction

Proper citation and organization of your research is important for academic and practical purposes. Citation styles outline standard ways of recording references in research papers, memos and legal documents. There are standards for abbreviation, punctuation, italicization and capitalization. There are many citation styles, each one considered standard in different fields

Canadian Legal Citation

A commonly accepted citation standard for Canadian legal writing is The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation. It is often known as the McGill Guide. The McGill Guide is in its 9th edition and is available in the library and in Westlaw.

Finding legal abbreviations

Online

  • Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations - This database allows you to search legal abbreviations of English language legal publications. Publications are from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and others, including those covering international and comparative law.
  • UBC Legal Citation Guide, Law Report Abbreviations & Journal Abbreviations - Database of law reports and journal titles that are available through the UBC law library.

Print resources

  • The McGill Guide - Available in the Law Library Reference and Reserve Collection. Abbreviation information for Canadian, foreign and international legal materials is located in the appendices.
  • Beiber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations - Available in the Law Library Reference collection. A complete reference work to more than 17,000 domestic and international abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols used in legal literature. 

Other Citation Styles

There are many citation styles and the library has many citation style guides both online and in print.

Research Management

Research management tools help you keep track of your research. They can also help you cite sources using proper citation standards—but their output isn't perfect.

Research management tools are also called

  • citation managers
  • reference managers

Most reference managers work best with web-based secondary materials or Library records. They are less useful for case law and legislation found on the web.

The subscription legal research databases contain their own research management tools.

Lexbox is a free tool that manages research and formats citations for primary materials accessed in CanLII and the Supreme Court of Canada website. It integrates with an extension to the Chrome browser.

Zotero is a free and open-source citation management tool developed specifically for academic researchers, and it suits the needs of lawyers as well. It outputs citations in the McGill Guide style and is an excellent tool for assembling research materials, especially web-based documents.

Download links, and further information about using Zotero see the Zotero for Law guide.

Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.