How to Cite a Legal Textbook

Citing a legal textbook may be necessary in a variety of classes, particularly those that teach law. An in-text citation references information in the body of a paper while a bibliography citation provides the reader with complete information about the textbook at the end of a paper. Citing other legal sources -- such as documents, law journals or court rules -- follows a specific method, but citing legal textbooks is done in much the same way as citing any other type of book. Law classes and law journals may also have specific guidelines that vary slightly.


  1. Bibliography

    • 1

      Cite the author of the book, last name first and then first name, divided by a comma. For example, if the author's name is John Smith, the reference would be Smith, John. For more than one author, use the same method and list them in order from first to last. For example -- Smith, John and Johnson, Susan.

    • 2

      Insert a comma after the author's first name. This separates the author from the title of the book.

    • 3

      Add the title of the book in italics. Include the entire title of the book, including subtitles that appear after a colon or dash.

    • 4

      Add the publisher, the edition number of the textbook and the year of publication in parentheses. Leave a space after the last word of the title before inserting this information. Place a period outside the end parenthesis. For example, (McGraw Hill, 2nd ed., 1987).


    • 5

      Insert the last name of the book's author, followed by the year of publication in parentheses. For example, Smith (1987). Another option is to summarize the fact and then add: ... according to Smith (1987). This type of citation is used to paraphrase information from the legal textbook.

    • 6

      Include the page number for any direct quotes. Insert the quote into the paper, followed by the page number in parentheses. For example, "The law governing the ..." (p. 276).

    • 7

      Use both the page number and the author and year of publication. Some professors of law or law journals may request both pieces of information in your in-text citation. For example, Smith (1987) found "insert the direct quote here" (p. 365).

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