How to Cite Court Documents

Updated March 23, 2017

If you draw information from court documents when preparing a legal brief or paper, you must cite information parenthetically within the document. Parenthetical citation allows your reader to understand what evidence you are basing your conclusions upon. Bluebook style sets simple guidelines for the proper parenthetical citation of court documents.

Begin your citation with the last name of the author or speaker.

Follow the name of the speaker with an abbreviation for the type of court document you are citing. For example, if you were citing a legal brief, you would use:


End your citation with the page number you are citing. This should be followed by a period. For example:


Place your citation directly after a declaration that refers to the source you are citing. Use parentheses to distinguish your citation from the text of your brief. For example:

In a brief prepared by the defense, counsel argues that the defendant could not have committed the crime because she is blind. (Smith, Br. 11.)

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  • See the resources section of this article for a comprehensive list of abbreviations for common types of court documents.

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