• 3-minute read
  • 4th March 2016

Legal Citation – Citing Cases AGLC Style

The Australian Guide to Legal Citation (or AGLC) sets out a uniform approach for citing cases, legislation and other legal sources. If you’re studying law in Australia – or even just reading legal texts published here – it’s vital to understand how this system works.

In this post, we go over the basics of referencing cases using the AGLC style, including how to handle subsequent citations and what you should include in a bibliography.

Referencing a Case

In AGLC, citations are indicated using superscript numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3) in the text, with source information provided in the accompanying footnotes. The basic format of a footnote when citing a reported judgement requires a case name, year and details of where it is reported:

Case Name



Report Abbreviation

First Page


Smith v Jones






A pinpoint reference is only required when citing a particular passage of a report and should be separated from the first page on which the case is reported by a comma. Moreover, all case names should be italicised and all footnotes should end in a full stop.

The format is a little different for unreported judgements, as you will need a unique court identifier:

Case Name


Unique Court Identifier

Judgement Number

Full Date


Jones v Smith




13 January 2006,


However, you should only cite an unreported judgement when no reported version is available.

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Subsequent Citations

If you’re citing the same case twice in succession, you can use ‘ibid’ (a Latin term meaning ‘in the same place’) rather than providing the full source information again. The only difference will be the pinpoint citation if you are citing a different part of the same text:

1. Smith v Jones (1982) 126 CLR 503, 522.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid 517.

Footnotes two and three above, for instance, cite the same source as footnote one. Footnote two cites the same part of the source; footnote three cites a different page from the source, so we give a new pinpoint citation as well as using ‘ibid’ in this case.

If the repeat citation does not follow immediately after the first one, though, AGLC uses a different approach. So for non-consecutive repeat citations, you will need to do two things:

  • Provide a shortened title for the case. This should be placed in brackets at the end of the first citation.
  • Cross reference the shortened title and the footnote number for the first citation in all subsequent citations of the source.

For instance, we would format a non-consecutive repeat citation of the source above like this:

Smith v Jones (1982) 126 CLR 503, 522 (‘Smith’).
2. Kim Stein, When Law Repeats (AGLC, 2002).
3. Smith (n 1) 516.

Here, in the third footnote, we have a shortened title, a bracketed footnote number, and a new pinpoint citation. This ensures the reader can find the source information.


A bibliography is a section at the end of your essay where you provide full detail of every source you’ve cited. Sources should be categorised by type and listed alphabetically.

For case reports, the information provided here is almost identical as in footnotes, though no pinpoint reference is required and you don’t need to use a full stop:

Smith v Jones (1982) 126 CLR 503

However, AGLC conventions don’t always require a bibliography in addition to footnote citations, so make sure to check with your lecturers.

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