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How to Cite a Legal Brief in MLA Format


The Modern Language Association publishes a handbook that students and others use to write papers and cite sources. This handbooks is primarily used in the humanities and liberal arts disciplines. Citing a legal brief in MLA format requires specific rules that are not applicable to other sources.

In-Text Citation

Citing a legal brief requires citing the case record, because it contains the brief. When citing a case in-text, underlined or italicize the full case name on first use. For example, in a sentence that mentions the famous case Roe versus Wade, either underline the case name or place it in italics, such as: Roe v. Wade. In subsequent uses, list only the plaintiff's name -- the first name in the case -- and underline it or place it in italics: Roe.

Works Cited Page

To list a case on the Works Cited page, use the following format: Plaintiff v. Defendant. U.S. reports citation. Original page numbers if available. Name of the court. Year of the decision. Reprint Information. Print. Do not underline or italicize citations on the Works Cited page. For example, cite Roe v. Wade as follows:

Roe v. Wade. No. 113. Supreme Ct. of the US. 11 October 1972. Print.

About the Author

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dannelle F. Walker is an education lawyer and policy maker. Her areas of expertise include teacher liability, educator ethics, and school operations. She holds a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

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