The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Legal Citations

Reporter’s Handbook: Florida Bar Legal Citations

By Edward M. Mullins and Annette C. Escobar
Astigarraga, Davis, Mullins & Grossman, P.A.

I. Legal Citations–Introduction, Source, Authority
The Judicial System

a. State

i. Florida Supreme Court
ii. Florida District Court of Appeal
iii. Florida Circuit and County Court
iv. Administrative Agency Decisions

b. Federal

i. US Supreme Court
ii. Federal Court of Appeals

III. Statutory and Administrative Materials

a. Florida Constitution; Constitutions of Other States and the Federal Constitution
b. Florida Statutes
c. Laws of Florida
d. Florida Rules of Procedure
e. Attorney General Opinions

IV. Bluebook Default Rules

a. Miscellaneous

i. Legislative Materials
ii. Administrative and Executive Materials
iii. Foreign conventions and treaties
iv. Periodicals and Newspapers
v. Law Reviews
vi. Books
vii. Unpublished Materials
viii. Electronic Databases
ix. Introductory Signals

b. Legalistic Style

i. Quotations
ii. Abbreviations
iii. Font and Formatting
iv. Capitalization


I. Legal Citations–Introduction, Source, Authority

It is customary for attorneys, scholars, the courts, and professionals from all fields to utilize specific, highly technical rules of citation when citing legal authority. These rules are often overly complex and not tailored for use by individuals who have not been exposed to legal writing courses or law school. However, it is important for professionals from other fields to be familiar with these rules. Proper citation increases credibility and adds an additional element of authoritativeness to any piece utilizing legal authority.

Once the citation rules are broken down and taken in their purest form, however, and after eliminating technicalities that rarely arise in practical experience, the rules are quite simple. Basic citation forms exist for most regularly cited legal sources that are easily adapted to different situations once one comprehends the basic rules underlying the citation system.

In Florida, two authorities are helpful for appropriate citation. The Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rule 9.8, sets forth a Uniform Citation System. This Rule applies to all legal documents, including court opinions, and takes precedence over all other citation rules. It is the primary authority in determining how to cite a source.1 The scope of the Rules of Appellate Procedure, however, is limited and the Rules do not encompass many of the sources that one may wish to cite.

Where the Florida Rules do not address a particular citation, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, published by the Harvard Law Review Association controls. The Bluebook, as it is commonly referred to, spans more than three hundred pages. The editors published a new Eighteenth Edition in 2005 that encompasses several changes.

We will briefly review the basic citation forms that are applicable for judicial, executive, statutory, and administrative materials. We will then point out citation forms for several other commonly used sources, such as electronic databases. Finally, we will review several underlying rules that apply to all citations. For purposes of contrast, the citations will be bolded; but it should be noted that, in practice, cites are not bolded.

II. The Judicial System

Citations to cases, administrative agency decisions, and other judicially issued opinions are governed by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Separate and distinct rules exist for each court system, state and federal, and within that, each court level. We will first review Florida judicial citations generally, and then cover federal judicial citations.

a. State

i. Florida Supreme Court

The proper citation for Florida Supreme Court decisions is dependent upon the year in which the opinion was issued. Generally, an opinion of the Florida Supreme Court will appear:

Smith v. Jones, 700 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. 1999).

In this citation, the 79 represents the volume of the Southern Reporter in which the case is found. “So. 2d” represents the reporter, specifically, the Second series of the Southern Reporter. The first series utilizes an “So.” in its place. The third entry, 1350, represents the page of the reporter at which the case is found. Finally, in the parentheses, first is the Court, “Fla.” for the Florida Supreme Court, and second, the year in which the opinion was issued, 1999. This same general citations format which applies to the citations of all state cases.

For cases issued before 1886, “Fla.” was the reporter being utilized and a “Fla” would accordingly replace the “So. 2d” in the citation above

e.g., Smith v. Jones, 79 Fla. 1350 (Fla. 1885).

Between the years of 1887 to 1948, during which time both the “Fla.” and the “So.” reporters were being used, the proper citation includes only the “So.” reporter.

e.g., Smith v. Jones, 76 So. 1350 (Fla. 1936).

For all opinions issued after 1948 which are published in the Southern Reporter, the proper citation form utilizes either So. or So. 2d, depending on the series.

Recent opinions often are not yet published in the reporters. Under such circumstances, one cites to the Florida Law Weekly if possible:

e.g., Jones v. Smith, 25 Fla. L. Weekly S500 (Fla. Oct. 27, 2000).

If the opinion is not in the Florida Law Weekly, then the slip number should be used:

e.g., Jones v. Smith, No. 77,653 (Fla. Oct. 27, 2000).

In the case of yet unpublished Court opinions, electronic databases, such as Westlaw and Lexis, should not be utilized except as a last resort. Unpublished opinions, however, may be cited in that form.

ii. Florida District Court of Appeal

Opinions issued by the Florida District Court of Appeals are governed by largely the same rules as opinions of the Florida Supreme Court. A typical citation for a District Court of Appeals would appear:

Jones v. Smith, 721 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000).

The cite is identical to the Supreme Court cite, except that the designation of the court is different. The “3d DCA” indicates that the Third District Court of Appeals issued the decision. The same principle would apply in the First (1st):

Jones v. Smith, 721 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000);

Second (2d):

Jones v. Smith, 721 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000);

Fourth (4th):

Jones v. Smith, 721 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000);

and Fifth (5th) districts:

Jones v. Smith, 721 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000).

The rules for not yet published and unpublished opinions are likewise the same as those for Supreme Court decisions.

iii. Florida Circuit and County Court

Many opinions from the Circuit and County Courts of Florida are not published. However, some of them appear in the Florida Supplement. When such opinions do appear in the Florida Supplement, Circuit and County Court cases are respectively cited as follows:

Jones v. Smith, 79 Fla. Supp. 1350 (Fla. 11th Cir. Ct. 1999);

Jones v. Smith, 79 Fla. Supp. 1350 (Fla. Dade Cty. Ct. 1999).

Once again, unpublished opinions are governed by the same rules which govern such opinions issued by the Supreme Court.

iv. Administrative Agency Decisions

In all but two instances, which will be discussed shortly, the citation for administrative agencies appears as follows:

Jones v. Department of Ins., 7 F.A.L.R. 324-A (Fla. Dept. of Ins. 1999).

The department that issued the opinion is substituted for “Department of Ins.” F.A.L.R. is the reporter in which administrative agency decisions appear; the letters stand for the Florida Administrative Law Reporter.

Special citation forms are applicable to The Public Employees Relations Commission and the Florida Public Service Commission. In the instance of the former, the cite would appear as:

Jones v. School Bd., 7 F.P.E.R. ΒΆ 2413 (1999).

Decisions from the Florida Public Service Commission are cited as:

In re Application of Jones, 7 F.P.S.C. 2:413 (1999).

Once again, the first number represents the volume and the sequence of letters represent the reporters. In the former citation, the second number employed represents the paragraph of the volume in which the particular opinion appears. In the latter citation, the number before the colon represents the column and the number after the colon represents the page number.

b. Federal

i. US Supreme Court

Cases decided by the United States Supreme Court appear in several different reporters, including the United States Reports, the Supreme Court Reporter, The Lawyer’s Edition, United States Law Week, and Florida Law Weekly Federal. If a particular opinion is cited in all the aforementioned reporters, a party should first choose the United States Reports,

e.g., Jones v. Smith, 530 U.S. 1350 (2000).

In the absence of the opinion being published in the United States Reports, one should cite the next available reporter in the order in which they are listed above.

e.g., Jones v. Smith, 162 S. Ct. 756 (2000);

Jones v. Smith, 147 L.Ed.2d 597 (2000);

Jones v. Smith, 68 U.S.L.W. 4643 (2000);

Jones v. Smith, 13 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S457 (2000);

ii. Federal Court of Appeals

Opinions issued by the Federal Courts of Appeal are generally cited as

Jones v. Smith, 35 F.3d 440 (11th Cir. 1999).

There are presently three series of the Federal Reporter, F., F.2d and F.3d, in which opinions from the Federal Court of Appeals are published. If an opinion is not cited in the Federal Reporter, the Florida Law Weekly Federal is then cited, which would appear:

Jones v. Smith, 79 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C198 (11th Cir. May 27 1999).

. Federal District Courts

Federal District Court opinions are generally cited as:

Jones v. Smith, 35 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (S.D. Fla. 1999).

There are presently two series of reporters F. Supp. and F. Supp. 2d. Additionally, the particular court which issued the decision is indicated as S.D., Southern District, illustrated above, M.D., Middle District and N.D., Northern District, illustrated below:
Jones v. Smith, 35 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (M.D. Fla. 1999);


Jones v. Smith, 35 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (N.D. Fla. 1999).

III. Statutory and Administrative Materials

a. Florida Constitution; Constitutions of Other States and the Federal Constitution

The Florida Constitution is cited:

Art V, 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.3

The first portion before the comma represents the article of the constitution which one is citing. The second portion represents the section within the Article. Finally, the last portion stands for the state constitution which is being cited, here, the Florida Constitution.

The Florida appellate rules do not set forth model citations for the constitutions of other states or for the Federal Constitution. Accordingly, the Bluebook provides the proper citation methods. The constitutions from other states are cited as follows, using New York and Texas as examples:

N.Y. Const. art. IV, 7;

Tex. Const. art. II, 1.

First, cite the particular constitution, then the article, and then the section.

The Federal Constitution is cited:

U.S. Const. art. I, 6, cl. 1;4 or

U.S. Const. amend. XIV, 2; or

U.S. Const. pmble.

The citation always begins with U.S. Const. then lists the article or amendment. Subsections within each amendment or article are then cited, with being used for sections and cl. for clauses. Note that the preamble, “pmbl.,” has no article, section, or clause subsections.

b. Florida Statutes

The Florida Statutes are cited in the following manner:

857.102, Fla. Stat. (1998).5

The Florida Statutes are not republished every year. Supplements are published on a yearly basis to update any statutes that have been amended, enacted, or repealed. When the Florida Statute Supplement contains a version of the statute, that version always should be utilized. In such instances, the supplement should be cited:

857.102, Fla. Stat. (Supp. 1998).

In citing the several Florida Rules, which will be discussed shortly, or other statutory materials which do not appear in the official reporter, one may cite the annotated versions of the statutes. The annotated version of the statutes, which contains cases that have cited the referenced rule or statute, are cited:

857.102, Fla. Stat. Ann. (1998).6

The supplements to these rules are cited in the same manner as the supplements for the Florida Statutes.7

c. Laws of Florida

Generally, the laws of Florida are not cited unless the particular statute does not appear in the general statutes or one wishes to make particular reference to the enactment of the statute. If one is citing the Florida Laws, which are the form in which the statutory materials appear as originally enacted by the Legislature, all such general laws after 1956 are cited:

Ch. 74-177, 4, at 489, Laws of Fla. (1997).

Before 1957, the Florida laws would be cited:

Ch. 22000, Laws of Fla. (1942).

First, set forth the chapter in which the law appears in the Laws of Florida Reporter. Then, state the particular section referred to and the page at which that section appears. Finally, list the reporter, which is the Laws of Florida. Before 1957, the particular laws were not broken up into sections. Merely use the number which corresponds to the entire law.

d. Florida Rules of Procedure

Florida has twenty-four different rules of procedure. Each one has its own citation form. Generally, state that it is a Florida rule, “Fla.” Next, state the abbreviation for the particular rule. Finally, state the exact rule number. The various rules of procedure are cited:

Florida Rules of Civil Procedure: Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.280.

Florida Rules of Judicial Administration: Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.038.

Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure: Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.864.

Florida Rules of Workers’ Compensation: Fla. R. Work. Comp. P. 4.112.

Florida Probate Rules: Fla. Prob. R. 5.130.

Florida Rules of Traffic Court: Fla. R. Traf. Ct. 6.163.

Florida Small Claims Rules: Fla. Sm. Cl. R. 7.060.

Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure: Fla. R. Juv. P. 8.060.

Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure: Fla. R. App. P. 9.200.

Florida Rules of Mediation: Fla. R. Med. 10.020.

Florida Rules of Arbitration: Fla. R. Arb. 11.020.

Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure: Fla. Fam. L. R. P. 12.030.

Florida Judicial Code of Conduct: Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 4B.

Rules Regulating the Florida Bar: R. Regulating Fla. Bar 4-1.20.

Florida Bar Foundation Charter: Fla. Bar Found. Charter, art. 3.5.

Florida Board of Bar Examiners Rules: Fla. Bd. Bar Exam. R. II.

Florida Standard Jury Instructions – Civil: Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Civ.) 6.3(b).

Florida Bar Admission Rules: Fla. Bar Admiss. R., art. II.

Florida Judicial Qualification Commission Rules: Fla. Jud. Qual. Comm’n R. 8.

Florida Bar Foundation By-Laws: Fla. Bar Found. By-Laws, art. 2.17(b).

Florida Standards Imposing Lawyer Sanctions: Fla. Stds. Imposing Law. Sancs. 9.2.

Florida Bar Integrity Rules: Fla. Bar Integr. R., art X, rule 11.08.

Florida Standard Jury Instructions – Criminal: Fla. Std. Jury Insr. (Crim.). [crime]

Florida Bar Code of Professional Responsibility: Fla. Bar Code Prof. Resp. D. R. 1-201(B).

Florida Standards Imposing Lawyers Sanctions – Drug Cases: Fla. Stds. Imposing Law. Sancs. (Drug Cases) 2.

e. Attorney General Opinions

Opinions of the Attorney General of Florida are cited simply. State that it is the opinion of the attorney general, the number given to the particular opinion, and the year of the opinion:

Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 73-178 (1973).

IV. Bluebook Default Rules

a. Miscellaneous

i. Legislative Materials

Besides statutes, there is a plethora of other materials which are produced by the legislative branches of government. One such category is Bills and Resolutions. Generally, enacted Bills should be cited as the analogous statute. Unenacted Bills are cited as:

S. 513, 110th Cong. 1 (2000); or

H.R. 342, 105th Cong. (1998); or

Protection From Personal Intrusion Act, H.R. 2445, 104th Cong. 1 (1993).

First, state the name of the bill, if relevant, then the abbreviated name of the house, the number of the bill, the number of the Congress that enacted it, the section cited, and the year of the publication. Resolutions are cited in the same manner:

H.R. Res. 567, 103rd Cong. (1996); or

S. Res. 632, 102nd Cong. (1995).

Enacted federal bills would be cited in this fashion only for the purpose of pointing out or emphasizing the legislative history of the bill. If any one piece of data is missing, cite the next piece of information that is available.

If state bills or resolutions are being cited, state the abbreviated name of the legislative body, the number of the bill, the number of the legislative body or session, and the number or designation of the legislative session. In parenthesis, place the abbreviated name of the state and the year in which the bill or resolution was enacted. The cite would appear:

H.R. 138, 143d Gen. Assem., 424th Reg. Sess. (Ga. 1999).

When citing Congressional Hearings or Hearings before federal committees, include the title of the hearing as it appears on the cover, the bill number, the subcommittee name, the committee name, the number of the Congress, the page number of the material, and the year of the publication. If a particular piece of information is missing, simply go to the next information available. The cite would appear:

Tax Credit for Cost of Providing Commuter Benefits to Employees: Hearing on H.D. 534 on H.R. 3443 and H.R. 4356 Before the H. Comm. on Ways and Means, 105th Cong. 48-49 (1999) (statement of Mark Nelson, Member, House Comm. on Ways and Means).

If a hearing before the state legislature is cited, add the number of the legislative session between the name of the hearing and the Legislative Session, set off by commas.

Citation to numbered federal reports should include the abbreviation for the entity issuing the report, the number of the Congress connected by a hyphen to the number of the report, the page on which the material begins and the year of the publication. The citation to a house and senate report is cited:

H.R. Rep. No. 98-233, pt. 2, at 67 (1954);

S. Rep. No. 89-9, at 27 (1958).

All numbered federal documents are cited in an analogous manner except that the abbreviation Doc. is added between the legislative body abbreviation, “H.R. Rep.” or “S. Rep.” and the “No.” If a document has a title and/or author, they should be indicated in front of the citations which appear above, with the author appearing first, separated by a comma from the title.

If the document is not numbered, the citation would appear:

Staff of S. Comm. on the Judiciary, 97th Cong.,
Report on the Federal Arbitration Law 39 (1987).

ii. Administrative and Executive Materials

This portion includes several different materials including rules and regulations, administrative adjudications, arbitrations, and advisory opinions, among others. Final rules and regulations promulgated by the executive branch normally appear in the Code of Federal Regulations:

FCC Television Airwaves Services and Regulations, 48 C.F.R. 38.48 (1993).

First, cite the title of the rule or regulation. The first number in the citation represents the CFR title number. The second number represents the particular section cited. Finally, always include the year of the publication. If the rule or regulation does not appear in the CFR it will most likely be contained in the Federal Register:

FCC Television Airwaves Services and Regulations, 60 Fed. Reg. 68,380, 68,382 (Oct. 25, 2000) (to be codified at 48 C.F.R. 38.48).

The first number represents the volume of the federal register, and the second two numbers represent the pages on which the rule or regulation appears. Proposed rules and regulations merely contain the word “proposed” in front of the date, inside the parentheses. Executive orders, presidential proclamations and executive reorganization plans generally appear in CFR, the United States Code or the Annotated Code. If the document appears therein, those are the preferred publications. In the alternate, cite the Federal Register if therein.

Generally, administrative adjudications and arbitrations are cited in the same manner as cases. The only differences are that in administrative adjudications, only the name of the first private party or subject matter is used and the abbreviations used are those for the applicable tribunal as opposed to the court reporters. Citations to arbitrations, however, utilize both adverse parties (if given) or are otherwise cited in the same manner as administrative decisions. Additionally, the arbitrator’s name should be given parenthetically after the date: (Kruger, Arb.).

Advisory opinions issued by the United States Attorney General are cited:

42 Op. Att’y Gen. 238 (1989).

The first number is the volume in which the opinion appears. The second portion is the type of opinion, including the governmental agency that issued the opinion. The third number represents the page number on which the opinion appears and finally the year. If the opinion has a title, include the title before the citation, separated by a comma.

iii. Foreign conventions and treaties

Citation to international treaties and conventions is becoming increasingly popular as the world moves towards globalization. In citing treaties and conventions, the general citation form appears:

North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S.-Mex., May 27, 1988, 35 U.S.T. 1988.

The name of the agreement is given first in all instances, followed by the date of signing. Next, where there are two or fewer parties, as is the hypothetical example given, state the abbreviations for the two countries and finally the Treaty or Convention source, with the volume and page number. If there are more than two parties to the treaty or convention, the citation appears:

North American Free Trade Agreement, May 27 1988, 73 Stat. 3387, 35 U.N.T.S. 1988.

Leave out the particular countries and add the additional identification for the particular section of the reporter where such treaties and conventions appear. If there is a particular subdivision to which one wishes to cite, it should appear immediately after the date. The reporters in which these documents will appear, in which the United States is a party, include U.S.T. or Stat.; T.I.A.S. or T.S. or E.A.S; Senate Treaty Documents or Senate Executive Documents; the Department of State Dispatch or Department of State Press Releases. If it does not appear in one of these sources, any source may be cited. Where the United States is not a party, the official reporters of the foreign entities are preferred.

iv. Periodicals and Newspapers

The citation form for newspapers and periodicals is:

Eddy C. Chin, Capital Gains in the Presidential Race, Nov. 17 1999, at 45a.

First, indicate the author and the title. Next, list the date of the article, and finally, the page on which the article appears. The article title is italicized.

v. Law Reviews

Law Reviews are cited similarly to newspapers and periodicals:

Carlos C. Chintz, Capital Gains Treatment of Retirement Benefits, 49 U.S. Tax J. Law 978, 999 (2000).

First, state the author, followed by the title of the article. The title is italicized. Next, cite the volume in which the article appears and the Law Review abbreviation. Third, state the page on which the article appears and if applicable, the particular page which is cited. Finally, place the year of publication in parenthesis.

vi. Books

Books also are cited similar to newspapers, periodicals, and law reviews. Preliminarily, the citation generally appears:

Chris C. Chin, Capital Gains Treatment of Retirement Benefits 49 (2d ed. 2000).

First, cite the author, separated by a comma from the title, which is cited second. If the work does not have an author, the citation would be the same except that the first item cited is the title. The number immediately following the title is the specific page number. If referring to the book generally, do not cite the page number. In the parentheses, cite the edition and then the year. No edition is cited if the book is the first edition or if there is only one edition.

When a book has an editor or a translator, he or she is also added to the citation. The name of the editor or translator is placed in the parentheses before the specific edition, or before the year if no edition is required, followed by “ed[s].” or “trans.” respectively. If there are more than two editors or translators, only the name of the first is cited:

Chris C. Chin, Capital Gains Treatment of Retirement Benefits 49 (Kenneth Kole et al. eds., 2d ed. 2000).

Editors and authors also may be institutional, in which case the name of the institution, abbreviated if applicable, is substituted for the name that would otherwise appear in the applicable place. If the institution is a subpart of a larger institution, the subpart is placed first, followed by a comma and then the name of the overall body. When several publishers have published a book, the publisher is also added between the editor or translator, if any, and the edition, if any:

Chris C. Chin, Capital Gains Treatment of Retirement Benefits 49 (Kenneth Kole trans., Penguin Books, 2d ed. 2000).

Finally, if the book appears in a supplement to a book or in a pocket part, “supp.” is added between the edition and the year.

vii. Unpublished Materials

When materials are unpublished, cite the authority by author, title or description, page number[s] referenced, the most precise date which can be ascertained and, if possible, information as to where the material may be found:

Carlos C. Chintz, Capital Gains Treatment of Retirement Benefits (2000) (unpublished manuscript, on file with author).

Citations to in-person or telephonic interviews start with the title and institutional affiliation of the interviewed individual and, if in person, the place of the interview. Finally, in parentheses, after the full cite, cite the exact date of the interview. Speeches and addresses are cited in a similar fashion. If citing to a source which is to be published, place “forthcoming” in the parentheses immediately before the date.

viii. Electronic Databases

Electronic Media and other non-print sources include Westlaw and Lexis, the Internet, CD-ROMs, microform, films, broadcasts, and noncommercial videotapes and audio recordings. If specific materials appear in Westlaw or Lexis, cite to these databases, irrespective of whether one accessed the database through the proprietary software or the Internet.

Internet citations may be used as a parallel cite when an unpublished opinion can be found on the Internet or when one merely wishes to cite information found on the Internet:

The date on the Internet cite, either creation, last modification, or last visited, may be placed in parentheses after the citation if the author believes it would assist the reader. Where using a parallel citation, follow the normal cite by a comma, then “available at” and then the Internet cite.

E-mails are cited without e-mail addresses:

E-mail from Martha Velltran, Assistant Manager,
International Property, to Edward Roca, Buyer,
Ladies Wear (May 27, 1975, 05:55:02 EST) (on file with author).

The first portion of the cite is self-explanatory. In parentheses, place the date of the message followed by the exact time and the location where the e-mail can be found.

When citing a CD-ROM, cite the material as it would otherwise be cited. Following the citation, state the publisher of the CD-ROM, the version searched, and the date of the material or the date of the version searched, in parentheses.
Microform is another commonly cited source. Do not indicate that the source is from Microform unless it would otherwise be difficult to attain the material. If so, cite the source as it would otherwise be cited. Next, separated by a comma, place “microformed on,” the name of the service provider, and any unique identifiers or codes utilized by the publisher, if available. The name of the publisher appears at the end of the citation in parentheses.

Cite films by their titles in italics. Television and Radio Broadcasts are cited in italics. They are both cited by exact date if possible. In parenthesis after the title, place the company or network that produced or aired the broadcast, followed by the date. Unpublished editions would be cited in the same fashion except place “(on file with author),” for example, directly after the parenthetical containing the producer and date.

Commercial recordings are cited by artist and title in italics, followed by the recording company and date of release if available:

Chris Lenard, Sun under the Moon (MCA Records 1987).

If a particular song or musical work is being referred to, cite it directly after the author, in italics. If the recording is not commercial, it is placed in ordinary type and one should indicate where the source may be obtained.

ix. Introductory Signals

There are several introductory signals that are regularly used in legal citations, each of which means something different.

If directly quoting the proposition, identifying the full name of the source, or identifying an authority referred to in the text, no introductory signal is used. Otherwise, an introductory signal is required. “See” is used if one is paraphrasing or if an authority directly supports a proposition in the text. “E.g.,” is used, preceded by one of the other introductory signals, when citing other authority which also supports the proportion in the text but that is not particularly on point or particularly helpful, such as cases from other jurisdictions other than that which is controlling. “Accord” is used when two or more cases state and support the same proposition, but the cite being cited it not the one actually utilized. “See also” is utilized to indicate additional sources which are in addition to the main source or which add additional support to the textual proposition. In such instances, a brief explanation of the proposition in the case, in parentheses after the cite, is encouraged. “Cf.” is used where the additional source is different from the main proposition but sufficiently analogous to the main point as to lend support to the main proposition.

To direct the reader to compare two or more cites, place “Compare,” at the beginning of the citation, followed by all relevant cites, put together with an “and” preceded by a comma. Between the two sets of citations, place “, with” followed by the second set of relevant cites to be compared with the material that appears before the “with.” The cite is cited as it otherwise would be.

Contra” is used when the cited authority states a proposition opposite to the cited authority. “But see” is used where the authority supports a proposition contrary to the main proposition, but not directly opposed. “But cf.” similar to cf., is used where the cited authority supports a proposition analogous to the opposite of the main proposition.

Finally, “see generally” is used where a citation is used as generally helpful background information. A parenthetical is recommended.

b. Legalistic Style

i. Quotations

Generally, quotations are used in the same manner as they would be in any literary work. They should appear exactly as they do in the original. Quotations of forty nine words or less should be placed in quotes; quotations of fifty words or more should be set off from the rest of the text – indented on both sides, appearing as a separate block in the middle of the paragraph. In set off quotes, the citation should appear on the next line after the block quote, left justified and on an independent line. When the author adds additional words or letters, brackets “[]” are placed at the beginning and end of the added words or letters. If letters are omitted as part of a word, they are similarly replaced by brackets.

ii. Abbreviations

There is a special listing of abbreviations contained in the Bluebook which exhaustively sets forth all words that should be abbreviated in case names and other legal documents. Setting forth all such terms here is beyond the scope of this article, but any term not listed therein should not be abbreviated. Words in the text of an article should not be abbreviated.

iii. Font and Formatting

The only three typefaces used in legal materials are ordinary roman type, italics and underline. Commas, semicolons and other punctuations are italicized or otherwise formatted only if they are inside the italicized material; punctuation that follows the material is not similarly formatted.

Additionally, emphasize words by italics. Foreign phrases are italicized as well. Similarly, equations and hypothetical parties indicated by letters are italicized.

iv. Capitalization

In headings and titles, all words are capitalized except articles, and conjunctions, and prepositions of four or fewer words. Nouns, people, groups, and constitutions are capitalized only if referring to specific entities, people, groups, and constitutions. Also, the word “court” is capitalized only if one is giving the full name of the court or if one is referring to the United States Supreme Court. The word “federal” is capitalized when the word it modifies is capitalized; the word “judge” or “justice” is capitalized if it refers to a particular judge or justice; and the word “state” is capitalized only when used as part of the full title of a state or if the modified word is capitalized.


1 This is the rule in all instances except where one is writing a law review article. In law review articles, the Bluebook, which will be covered shortly, is the primary authority in the proper citation form and local rules of citation have no applicability. Throughout, we will review slight differences that may arise in the context of law review articles.

2 In the context of law review articles, no reference is made to the particular district. The citation would appear: Jones v. Smith, 721 So. 2d 1350 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2000).

3 Law Review articles would cite the Florida constitution as follows:
Fla. Const. art. V, 3(b)(3).
All state constitutions would be cited in this manner in law review articles.

4 In law review articles, the U.S. Const. demarcation appears in small caps font:
U.S. Const. art. I, 6, cl. 1.

5 In law review format, the Florida Statutes are cited:
Fla. Stat. ch. 857.102 (1998).
The supplement would be cited as
Fla. Stat. ch. 857.102 (Supp. 1998).

6 The annotated version should not be used in law reviews unless the source does not appear in the official version of the statutes. The annotated version of the statute is cited:
Fla. Stat. Ann. ch. 857.102 (1999).

Similarly, the rules would be cited as the rules and not as the statutory version thereof.

7 There are particular rules to follow for each state in the Bluebook. Setting forth the proper citation form for each state is beyond the scope of this article. However, certain general rules can be followed. Since the Bluebook sets forth the proper citation form for these statutes, the citation form will be more similar to the citation form for Florida statutes in law review articles than those set forth by the Florida Appellate Rules. One commences with the particular state’s abbreviation, e.g. N.Y., Tex., Ohio. Additionally, if the state has different statutory compilations for different areas of the law, business corporations, family, and administrative law for example, one would next cite the abbreviations for these statutory compilations, e.g. Bus. Corp., Fam., Admin. Many states, such as Florida, do not have such compilations and merely have one general compilation. Next, depending on whether the state calls its statutes “statutes” or “code,” one cites it either as Stat. or Code. Finally, if the statutes have a particular publisher besides the state, one places the publisher inside parentheses before the current year of the statute and, if no such publisher exists, then one merely places the year of the statute in parentheses.

Authored by the Media & Communications Law Committee, the handbook serves as a resource guide for members of the media about topics in the legal profession.

[Revised: 5/1/08]