The McGill Guide specifies a reference style that applies to full and partial citations in footnotes, in-text references, bibliographies, and reference lists.
For details on citing legislation in APA style, see under APA.
Our application of McGill style extends only to citations. The extent of the McGill Guide’s application can be difficult to determine. This page outlines the basics of McGill Guide style, and also seeks to define the difference between McGill style and Emond style by way of examples. The general rule for defining the difference is the one stated above.
- Emond’s number range style overrides McGill’s number range style for all number ranges, including paragraph number ranges (e.g., 101-2, 123-24).
- Full statute and regulation titles are italic. Abbreviated titles are roman, contra McGill (e.g., “the Charter”).
- Contra McGill, punctuation goes inside quotation marks.
- Contra McGill, don’t change “The Queen” to “R” in case names; follow the case name used by the reporter and/or court the author is citing.
Queen’s University Library has an excellent, clear introduction to legal citation. It explains, among other things, the meaning of different elements of a case citation. See here.
Include a neutral citation when available. If a parallel print citation is not included, it is not necessary to find/add one (contra McGill).
A neutral citation is the official case citation put out by the court itself. It consists of the year, the court name and jurisdiction, and a number assigned by the court.
R v Clifford, 2017 SCC 9. [Supreme Court of Canada]
RMH Teleservices v BCGEU, 2003 BCSC 278. [Supreme Court of British Columbia]
Cheung v Shuen, 2015 ONCA 403. [Ontario Court of Appeal]
The order of precedence for citations is:
2. Official reporter (Ex Cr, FCR, SCR)
3. CanLII (contra McGill)
4. Semi-official reporter (e.g., Alta LR, OR, Man R)
5. Unofficial reporter (e.g., BCLR, CCC, DLR)
6. Proprietary (Quicklaw, etc.) citation (e.g., OJ, BCJ, CarswellOnt)
7. Case digests (e.g., WCB [Weekly Criminal Bulletin])
McGill omits “et al” from case names.
When a case name includes undisclosed or anonymous parties, follow the style of the reporter. So, if the reporter refers to the case as “R v DC,” leave as is (remove periods if any). If there are parenthesis, include a space before the letter in parentheses:
R v C (D)
When the year has no brackets or does have square brackets, that means it’s part of the citation itself and the comma separating the case name from the case citation should come before the year. When the year is in parentheses, that means it’s not part of the citation itself, and the comma should come after the year.
UFCW, Local 1518 v KMart Canada Ltd,  2 SCR 1083, 176 DLR (4th) 607.
R v Marcocchio, 2002 NSPC 7, 213 NSR (2d) 86.
Weitzner v Herman (2000), 33 ETR (2d) 310 (Ont Sup Ct J).
Court Jurisdiction in Parentheses
McGill’s abbreviations of jurisdictions (provinces/territories) and courts are different from the abbreviation used by the court itself in their neutral citations. The most notable instance of this is the abbreviation of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In a neutral citation, it is abbreviated:
2013 ONSC 64
In parentheses (McGill style) it is abbreviated:
2008 CanLII 22122 (Ont Sup Ct J)
Where a neutral citation is not available, and the jurisdiction and/or court are not evident from the title of the case reporter, indicate the jurisdiction and/or court in parentheses at the end of the citation.
Leave a space in court abbreviations that consist of both uppercase letters and lowercase letters — e.g., "Ont CA". Do not insert a space between jurisdiction and court in abbreviations that consist solely of uppercase letters — e.g., "BCCA".
Falkiner v Ontario (Director, Income Maintenance Branch, Ministry of the Attorney General) (2002), 212 DLR (4th) 633 (Ont CA).
Bernard v Dartmouth Housing Authority (1989), 88 NSR (2d) 190 (SC (AD)).
AG of Canada v Brock (1991), 67 CCC (3d) 131 (BCSC).
Stott v Merit Investment Corp (1988), 63 OR (2d) 545 (CA).In this example, “Ontario” can be inferred from the “O” in the case reporter name, so only the court abbreviation is needed in parentheses.
For a list of jurisdiction abbreviations used in neutral citations and other court citations, see Canadian and US Abbreviations (the Neutral and Court columns, respectively); for a list of court abbreviations, see Court Abbreviations.
Don’t use “per” or “per”; style as follows:
R v Sharpe, 2001 SCC 2 at para 24, McLachlin CJ.
Some reporters are available exclusively on Quicklaw. When a Quicklaw citation appears, add “(QL)” after the citation (but before the court) so that the reader knows where to find the case report.
Fuentes v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration),  FCJ No 206 (QL) at para 10 (TD).
Some common examples of Quicklaw citations are:
- BCJ = British Columbia judgments
- AJ = Alberta judgments
- SJ = Saskatchewan judgments
- MJ = Manitoba judgments
- OJ = Ontario judgments
- JQ = Quebec judgments (jugements du Québec)
- NBJ = New Brunswick judgments
- NSJ = Nova Scotia judgments
- PEIJ = Prince Edward Island judgments
- NJ = Newfoundland (& Labrador) judgments
- NWTJ = Northwest Territories judgments
- NUJ = Nunavut judgments
- YJ = Yukon judgments
- FCJ = Federal Court judgments
- SCJ = Supreme Court judgments
When editing, include a hyperlink to CanLII where available. The link should be on the case citation only (not the case name).
Acts, Statutes, and Regulations
Most titles of Acts don’t include the jurisdiction. Double check on CanLII. So, “the Ontario Police Services Act,” not “the Ontario Police Services Act.”
Constitution Act, 1867 (UK), 30 & 31 Vict, c 3, reprinted in RSC 1985, Appendix II, No 5.
Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11 [Charter].
Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, SC 1994, c 28, s 1 [CSFAA] (in force 1 August 1995).
Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 21, Schedule F, ss 14-15.
Limitations Act, 2000, SO 2002, c 24, Schedule B.
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27, ss 4(2)(a)-(c), 7 [IRPA].
Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, 2nd Sess, 39th Parl, 2008, cl 4 (first reading 12 June 2008).
Pacific Pilotage Regulations, CRC, c 1270 (1978). year is optional
Pacific Hake Exemption Notice, SOR/86-750.
Rules of Civil Procedure, RRO 1990, Reg 194, r 60.03.
Canada, House of Commons Debates, 41st Parl, 1st Sess, No 2 (3 June 2011) at 15 (Hon Stephen Harper, PM).
Parliament of Canada, LEGISinfo, online: <http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo>.
Statistics Canada, "Homicide in Canada—1998," by Orest Fedorowycz, in Juristat 19:10, Catalogue No 85-002-XIE (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1999) at 6.
Statistics Canada, Table 252-0059, "Adult Criminal Courts, Guilty Cases by Mean and Median Length of Custody," CANSIM (database).
Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, PC 2014-1246, (19 November 2014) C Gaz II, vol 148, no 24, online: <http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2014/2014-11-19/html/sor-dors256-eng.php>.
Government of Ontario, Ontario Gazette, online: <http://www.ontario.ca/ontario-gazette>.
Government doc with authors
Audrey O'Brien & Marc Bosc, eds, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2nd ed (Ottawa: House of Commons, 2009) [O'Brien & Bosc], online: Parliament of Canada <http://www.parl.gc.ca/procedure-book-livre>, ch 17, Delegated Legislation, "Historical Perspective."
LAW SOCIETY DOCUMENTS
Some common documents from the Law Society of Ontario (formerly Law Society of Upper Canada):
Law Society of Ontario, Paralegal Rules of Conduct (1 October 2014; amendments current to DD MMM YYYY), online: <https://www.lsuc.on.ca/paralegal-conduct-rules>.
Law Society of Ontario, Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines (1 October 2014; amendments current to DD MMM YYYY), online: <http://www.lsuc.on.ca/paralegal-conduct-guidelines>.
Law Society of Ontario, By-Laws (amendments current to DD MMM YYYY), online: <https://www.lsuc.on.ca/by-laws>.
NB: For the By-Laws, if you are citing a specific By-Law only, include that By-Law number and date.
Apply McGill style punctuation to the title:
K Morlock, “Floating Charges, Negative Pledges, the PPSA and Subordination: Chiips Inc v Skyview Hotels Limited” (1994-1995) 10 BFLR 405.
Book with one to three authors
Use an ampersand instead of “and” in lists of two or three authors. Omit the serial comma.
Anthony Duggan, Amlani Batra & Jacob S Ziegel, Secured Transactions in Personal Property: Cases, Text, and Materials, 6th ed (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2013).
Book with more than three authors
In texts with more than three authors, cite only the first author followed by “et al”; see example below.
Gus Van Harten et al, Administrative Law: Cases, Text, and Materials, 7th ed (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2015).
Chapter or essay in an edited collection
Walter DeKeseredy, “Changing My Life, Among Others: Reflections on the Life and Work of a Feminist Man” in Susan L Miller, ed, Criminal Justice and Diversity: Voices from the Field (Boston: Northeastern University Press) 127 at 134.
Chapter in a book by the same author
Allan Manson, “Sentencing Options” in The Law of Sentencing (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2000) ch 9.
If a source was clearly online at some point, but has since been removed, include a note after the URL. Note that this does not apply to websites labelled “archived.” Treat an archived page as a typical website.
Government of Canada, “Changes at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)” (15 December 2012), online: <http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/reform-irb.asp> (offline as of March 2018).
Kent Roach, “Be Careful What You Wish For? Terrorism Prosecutions in Post-9/11 Canada” (2014) 40:1 Queen's LJ 99.
Nader R Hasan, George Blay & Stephen Aylward, “Cell Phone Searches at the Border: Privilege and the Portal Problem” (2017) 37:4 For the Defence 142 at 145.
Tracey Tyler, “Widow Wins Fight for Hidden Cash of Husband,” Toronto Star (22 March 2000).
Paper presented at conference
G Watson, “Settlement Approval—The Most Difficult and Problematic Area of Class Action Practice” (Paper delivered at the Conference on Class Actions, NJI Institute, Toronto, 9 April 2008) [unpublished]
Reference work with corporate author
McGill Law Journal, Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 8th ed (Toronto: Carswell, 2014) [McGill Guide].
Federation of Law Societies docs
Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Model Code of Professional Conduct (2014), online: <http://flsc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/conduct1.pdf>.
Allan Manson, “The Supreme Court Intervenes in Sentencing” (1995), 43 CR (4th) 306
Criminal Reports (CR) is a case reporting journal
Email from Ingrid Ludchen, Chief Legislative Editor, Legislative Editing and Publishing Services Section, Department of Justice, to Annette Demers (7 February 2011) [Ludchen (7 February 2011)].
Entry in a dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary, 9th ed, sub verbo “judicial notice.”
In titles following McGill style, in both citations and running texts, omit periods when using an abbreviation or acronym, except for “e.g.,” “i.e.,” and “etc.”
Use “e.g.” and “i.e.” in reference entries but use “for example” and “that is” in regular running text.
Honorifics: no periods: Ms, Mr, Mrs, Dr.
Abbreviated statute and regulation titles (including “the Charter”) are roman, contra McGill.
|Examples||etc., et al, v, R, Ltd, Co, Corp, Inc, e.g., i.e.||SAME|
|See e.g. RMH Teleservices v BCGEU, 2003 BCSC 278 and R v Marcocchio, 2002 NSPC 7, 213 NSR (2d) 86.||As explained in R v Marcocchio, the requirement is not applied, for example, where the plaintiff has supplied goods and services to a defendant who has breached the contract.|
|Tanenbaum v WJ Bell Paper Co Ltd (1956), 4 DLR (2d) 177 (Ont HC).||The WJ Bell Paper Co Ltd, in October 1951, purchased a parcel of land.|
Abbreviate pinpoints as shown below. Write page and section numbers as they appear in the source text. That is, if a page pinpoint appears as “6” in the source, use “6”; if it appears as “vi,” use “vi.”
In texts with footnotes (professional and college titles), spell out “section” in full in running text. Abbreviate to “s” in footnotes (even if the footnote is written in full sentences) and parentheses. In casebooks, use the abbreviated version everywhere.
Note: Pinpoint references to pages or paragraphs are preceded by "at" (without a comma). Pinpoint references to statutory sections are preceded by a comma (without “at”).
Multiple Pinpoint References
Use a comma to show multiple pinpoint references, rather than “and.”
Ibid, ss 146, 159, 220. Supra note 5 at 45, 46.
Legislation internally refers to sections, subsections, paragraphs, etc., but legal commentary generally limits itself to referring to sections. It’s conventional to refer to all common law statutory provisions as “section” (and all bill provisions as “clause” and all civil law code provisions as “article”).
ss 4(1), 6(2)(b)(ii)
When discussion of a particular section focuses on elements of the section, it’s common to refer to, for example, “subsection (4)” or “paragraph (e),” but any reference to the full pinpoint—for example, 123(4)(e)—always uses “section” or “s.”
|PINPOINT||cl (cls), s (ss), para (paras), ch, r (rr)
"page" is omitted, not abbreviated
|clause(s), section(s), paragraph(s), chapter(s), rule(s)|
|Examples||Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, 2nd Sess, 39th Parl, 2008, cl 4.||Among other clauses in the lease, clause 12.04 provided that, if Woolworth acquired the adjacent lands, it would ...|
|When did the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27, s 4 come into force?||The contract between Mr Jones and Ms Smith stated, at section [or “s” in casebooks] 7, that the seller is responsible for delivery of the goods.|
|R v Grandinetti, 2005 SCC 5 at para 8,  1 SCR 27
Del Zotto v Canada,  1 SCR 3 at 10, 169 DLR (4th) 130
R v McMillan (1975), 7 OR (2d) 750 at 757 (CA)
Numbered Paragraph Pinpoints
Pinpoint references to numbered paragraphs within sections or subsections of a statute are rendered as follows:
Under section 19(3)2(i) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, attendant care benefits are limited to $1 million.
Subparagraph i of section 19(3)2 of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule limits attendant care benefits to $1 million.
Attendant care benefits are limited by the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule to $1 million (s 19(3)2(i)).
Pinpoint references to numbered paragraphs in the Constitution Act, 1867 are rendered more conventionally:
The provinces have jurisdiction under section 92(15) to impose punishment by way of fine, penalty, or imprisonment in order to enforce valid provincial laws.
In references, “day month year” per McGill
In running text, “month day, year” and, especially, “month day.”
|DATES||day month year
30 December 2013
|month day, year
December 31, 2013
|Secondary Source||Bill Curry, "PM, premiers work out deal on aboriginal health care," The Globe and Mail (26 November 2005) A4.||On November 15, 2005, B wrote to C, offering to sell C his farm for $150,000.|
|Legislation||Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, 2nd Sess, 40th Parl, 2009, cl 5 (first reading 29 January 2009).||It wasn't until May 14, 2009 that the Act was given royal assent.|
|Jurisprudence||Acuity Fund Ltd et al (13 March 2009), online: OSC <http://www.osc.gov.on.ca>.||On March 13, 2009 the Ontario Securities Commission rendered its decision in Acuity Fund Ltd et al.|
Place commas inside the closing quotation mark.
Note: This is contrary to the McGill Guide.
Bill Curry, "PM, premiers work out deal on aboriginal health care," The Globe and Mail (26 November 2005) A4.
“See” references: When using “See e.g.” as an introductory signal, do not follow “e.g.” with a comma or a colon, but commas should appear around the phrase “e.g.” in all other instances.
There are no periods in abbreviations with some exceptions (see Abbreviations, above). However, periods are retained in URLs and in some statutory and section references.
Human Rights Code, RSO 1990, c H.19.
Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s 672.76(2)(a.1).
- Enclose URLs in angle brackets. Include "http://".
- Omit the trailing slash if it is unnecessary (e.g., especially in root URLs).
In edited ms, include a backslash before angle brackets: \< and \>.
Task Force on the Canadian Common Law Degree, Final Report (Ottawa: Federation of Law Societies of Canada, October 2009) at 7-9, online: \<http://docs.flsc.ca/APPRTaskForceReportOct2009.pdf\>.
For more information on rules of conduct for lawyers and paralegals, visit the Law Society website at \<http://www.lsuc.on.ca\>.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, 1577 UNTS 3, Can TS 1992 No 3 (entered into force 2 September 1990), online: \<http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf\>.