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Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) Citation Help

View examples, get interactive practice, and format your paper with Chicago Style citation!

Note

The Chicago Manual of Style, like both MLA and APA, defers to The Bluebook for legal citations.

Legal publications only need to be cited in the notes, not the bibliography (unless you have a secondary publication, like a book in which the legal publication appears, in which case CMOS takes over).

Abbreviations

Congress Cong.
House (of Representatives) H. or H. R.
Senate S.
Resolution R.  (e.g. S. R. for a Senate resolution)
Report Rep. (e.g. H. R. Rep. for a House report)

Legislation (Enacted Bills/Statutes)

Laws are initially collected in the United States Statutes at Large (Stat.), and later are incorporated into the United States Code (U.S.C.). These publications are broadly called reporters.


1. Name of the Bill, vol# Reporter Name series# (year), url.

1. Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 (2012).

2. Homeland Security Act of 2002, 6 U.S.C. §101 (2012).

3. Chinese Exclusion Act, 22 Stat. 58 (1882), https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=47&page=transcript.

Bills and Resolutions (Proposed Laws, Not Enacted)

1. Name of the Bill, Bill No., No. of the Congress, section # (year).

1. Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, H.R. 1225, 116th Cong. (2019).

Court Cases & Court Decisions

The full case name in the first citation will be plain text, but when you abbreviate for the shortened note, italicize.

You only need to add the abbreviated name of the court before the year if it's not clear from the reporter info.

What the heck is a "reporter"?  It's not a journalist! It refers to the published "reports" that officially collect/publish the court decisions. When you see something like "588 U.S. 310," that's the reporter: volume 588 of the United States Reports series 310.


Full Note:

1. Name1 v. Name2, volume# Reporter Name (abbrev.) series# pg (Name of Court (abbrev.) Year), url.

Concise Note:

2. Name, Reporter at page#.

With URL:

1. State v. Griffin, 211 W. Va. 508, 566 S.E.2d 645 (2002), http://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/docs/spring2002/30433.htm.

US Supreme Court Cases:

1. Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'n, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).

2. Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 322.

3. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

With a Court Specified before Year:

1. Profit Sharing Plan v. Mbank Dallas, N.A., 683 F.Supp. 592 (N.D. Tex. 1988).

Hearings/Testimony

1. Published Title of the Recorded Testimony, Before the Relevant Committee, number of the Congress, page# (year) (Speaker's Name, Title and Affiliation).

1. Homeland Security Act of 2002: Hearings on H.R. 5005, Day 3, Before the Select Comm. on Homeland Security, 107th Cong. 203 (2002) (statement of David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States).

Memo in an Online Collection

Full Note:

1. Sender First Name Surname to Recipient First Name Surname, memorandum, "Subject of Memo," date, Collection Information, url.

Concise Note:

2. Sender to Recipient, date.

Bibliography:

Sender Surname, First Name. Sender First Name Surname to Recipient First Name Surname, memorandum, "Subject of Memo," date. Collection Information. url.

Full Note:

1. William L. Stearman to Henry Kissinger, memorandum, "Current Military Situation in Vietnam," Aug. 9, 1974, Presidential Country Files: East Asia and the Pacific, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/exhibits/vietnam/032400069-001.pdf.

Concise Note:

2. Stearman to Kissinger, Aug. 9, 1974.

Bibliography:

Stearman, William L. William L. Stearman to Henry Kissinger, memorandum, "Current Military Situation in Vietnam," Aug. 9, 1974. Presidential Country Files: East Asia and the Pacific. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum. https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/exhibits/vietnam/032400069-001.pdf.

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