Answered By: Elyse Wolf
Last Updated: Oct 21, 2019     Views: 10402

NOTE: The American Psychological Association recently released a 7th edition to APA Style. The information below is still following the 6th edition.

Citing Legal Cases in APA Style

According to the APA Blog Post "Citing Court Decisions in APA Style" there are three components to a legal citation. These are:

  1. The name of the case
  2. The source
  3. The court and the date of the decision.


The name of the case is in this format: Name v. Name. If there are multiple defendants, use the first individual's name.

If the name is an entity and not a person, there are certain abbreviations that you can use. For example, CO. for company and Univ. for University. 


The court decisions are often found in volumes called case reporters. You will need to identify the volume number, the name of the reporter, and the first page of the case. The name of the reporter (the case reporter) will be abbreviated.  For example, F. Supp. for Federal Supplement:

627 F. Supp. 418

This source statement means that is found in volume 627 of the Federal Supplement starting on page 418.

Court & Date

The court and date will be in parentheses. 


According to the APA Style Blog, you want to "Omit the name of the Supreme Court and its jurisdiction in references to the Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.) and United States Reports (U.S.). Likewise, omit the court’s name and its jurisdiction if (a) the deciding court is the highest court of a state or (b) the name of the case reporter already conveys the name of the court and its jurisdiction."

For example, use S.D.N.Y. for the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York.


The date is the year that the case was decided or the year of the court term. 

Example Court & Date

(10th Cir. 1984)   

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, decided 1984

Reference Examples

General Format

Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Court Date)

For Example

People v. Armour, 590 N.W.2d 61 (Mich. 1999)

In-Text Citation

General Format

Name v. Name (Year)

(Name v. Name, Year)

For Example

People v. Armour (1999)

(People v. Armour, 1999)

More Information:

For further help please contact the Wolak Learning Center at 603.645.9606 (Campus Students) and Online Writing Center at 866.721.1662 (Online Students) for assistance with citing in APA.

This information is intended to be a guideline, not expert advice. Please be sure to speak to your professor about the appropriate way to cite a legal case in your class assignments and projects.


Kitty, APA S. (2013). Citing Court Decisions in APA Style [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

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