How to Cite a Lawsuit in APA

Law is often based on precedent. The writ of habeas corpus, for example, used by state or federal prisoners to contest the legality of their detainment, is based on English common law. Precedent and expectation also guide formatting and presentation of the sources you use in an APA-style paper or journal article. Unlike more conventional sources, legal cases require special attention to their own supporting sources, such as the jurisdiction of the deciding court in a given case. Follow APA guidelines carefully to keep your lawsuit citations in line.

Consult the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" for a list of common legal abbreviations.

Write the name of the lawsuit. For example, "Weeble v. Whimsy."

Write the volume source page of the case.

For example, "Weeble v. Whimsy, 271 F.2d. 1000."

Write the court date year of the decision.

For example, "Weeble v. Whimsy, 271 F.2d. 1000 (E.D. Penn. 1973)."

Use only the case name and year in your text citation.

For example, (Weeble v. Whimsy, 1973)."


Italicize the case name in an actual APA text citation.

Things You'll Need

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association