Statutory Citation (Rule 12)


(wide variations occur between jurisdictions)

Statute (year).


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183, § 49 (2018) or 44 U.S.C. § 1234 (2018).


Court Documents: Nothing is underlined.

Law Reviews: Use small caps for the statutory abbreviation.


Statutes - Rule 12

Cite to the official United Statutes Code (U.S.C.), if available; otherwise, cite an unofficial code, such as the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.), available on Westlaw, or the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.), available on Lexis.

Keep the following hints in mind;

(1) Often an act from a legislature is inserted into the official code at myriad places, making it impossible to view it as a whole. When this occurs, you can cite to the public law number, sessions law or statutes at large [rule 12.2.2(a) & 12.4].

(2) The official federal code is the United States Code (U.S.C.). Cite therein if available [see rule 12.3 & table 1]. This includes U.S.C. supplements [see rules 3.1(c), 12.2.1(a) & 12.3.1(e)].

If the statute has not yet been published in the U.S.C. and its supplements, then you can cite to the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) or the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.).

The model for a federal statute is: Title Code § Section (year*).

        28 U.S.C. § 1350 (2018)

*Citing to the year is optional if citing to official or unofficial editions of the U.S.C.

(3) If you are citing to a specific subdivision or subdivisions of a code section, indicate all the subjections. If you are citing to multiple sections, use §§. Consult rule 3.3 on how to use section and paragraph symbols.

         28 U.S.C. §§ 1350(a)(2)-(c)(2) (2018)

(4) Official titles: Only include an official title when the statute is commonly cited that way, or if the information would aid in the statute's easy identification within a textual setting [rule 12.3.1(a)]. Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1350 (2018).

(5) Note that the Internal Revenue Code, because it is so distinct and commonly cited, has its own special citation form under Rule 12.9.1. Thus instead of 26 U.S.C. § 245 (2018), use I.R.C. § 245 (2018).

(6) Each state has its own statutory citation methodology. You should consult Table 1 and look up the jurisdiction in question. Upon finding the appropriate jurisdiction, consult the 'statutory compilations' section. Most will provide the proper citation for both official and unofficial codes, and which to use first . Some larger jurisdictions, like Texas, employ subject-matter codes, e.g. Tex. Agric. Code Ann. § 190 (Vernon 2006).

Note, for certain states you must indicate the publisher in the parenthetical.


Year - Rule 12.3.2

It is optional to include the year when citing either the official or unofficial version of the federal code. When citing a state code or a federal code (if you choose), provide parenthetically the year that appears on the spine of the volume, the year that appears on the title paper, or the latest copyright year – in that order of preference. When citing a supplement or pocket part, use the year appearing on the title page of the supplement or pocket part.

When citing an electronic database, gave the name of the database and currency information in a parenthetical instead of the year of the code. Also include the name of the publisher, editor or compiler.

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 93, § 1 (West, Westlaw through Chapter 113 of the 2020 2d Ann. Sess.).