APA Court Case Citation — General Format with Examples

13.02.23 Other examples Time to read: 3min

How do you like this article?

0 Reviews


APA court citation is used to cite legal proceedings in a research paper, and understanding this format can be aided by looking at APA examples. Court proceedings may be cited as primary or secondary research sources, although their format differs from other sources such as APA book citation or APA journal article citation. Landmark rulings are extensively documented, as they outline legal procedures that inform changes in legislation.

APA Court Case Citation – In a Nutshell

  • APA court case citation is used to cite legal documents and proceedings in research publications.
  • Abbreviations are often used to stand for words in APA court case citation.
  • Researchers can cite documents from the district, supreme and appellate courts.
  • APA court case citation defines in-text citation and reference page formats for individual legal cases.

Definition: APA court case citation

APA court citation refers to the standard format of citing court case proceedings as research sources. It does not list authors like conventional sources; instead, abbreviations are used to make them more precise.


In APA court case citation, the reference refers to the reporters or the publications that document the cases. When citing a court case, general APA court case citation requires that you indicate the name of the case, volume number, and the reporter’s name in abbreviated form. You should also include the page number, name of the court, year, and an optional URL.

The name of the case is written in italics in the in-text citation. The reference page indicates only a page number rather than a full-page range.


APA reference entry: Wade v. Thomas, 65 (L.A. Sup. Ct. 1905).

APA in-text citation: (Wade v. Thomas, 1975) [2]

APA court case citation: Abbreviations

Most words in APA court case citation are abbreviated. There is a large catalog of standard abbreviations used to represent most words

Ensure your final paper is plagiarism-free
Failure to correctly cite original sources could lead to grades being deducted. Save yourself from this by running your paper through our online plagiarism checker tailored for Filipino students. In just 10 minutes, gain confidence in your submission!

APA court case citation: Federal court cases

Federal cases involve violations of federal law or the constitution. APA court case citation of federal cases guides the usage of legal proceedings at the national level as research sources.

U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the U.S. Verdicts and decisions of the Supreme Court are documented in the United States Reports, abbreviated as “U.S.” in the APA court case citation. Including a parenthesis is not necessary for this reference, as the reporter’s name is already mentioned.

APA format
Name v. Name, Volume number U.S. Page number (Year). URL
APA reference entry
Roe v. Wade, 412 U.S. 321 (2004).
APA in-text citation
(Roe v. Wade, 2004)

Circuit court

Circuit courts sit in multiple places in a judicial district. They are referenced from the Federal Reporter in APA court case citation, which has appeared in three series labeled “F,” “F.2d”, and the most recent series, “F.3d”. The U.S. has 13 circuit courts cited differently in parenthesis, for example, “6th Cir.”

APA court citation for circuit courts are cited as follows:

APA format
Name v. Name, Volume number F. or F.2d or F.3d Page number (Court Year). URL
APA reference entry
Holmes v. Watson. 453 F.2d 13 (9th Cir. 1962).
APA in-text citation
(Holmes v Watson. 1962)

District court

U.S. District court decisions are recorded in the Federal Supplements. APA court citation of district court files also uses abbreviations according to three series, namely “F. Supp,” “F. Supp. 2d”, “F. Supp. 3d”.

Researchers should specify the district court cited in their APA court case citation, as several district courts exist. Use parenthesis to distinguish, e.g., “N.D. Massachusetts.”

APA court case citation for district courts is formatted as follows:

APA format
Name v. Name, Volume number F. Supp. or F. Supp. 2d or F. Supp. 3d Page number (Year). URL
APA reference entry
Scott v. Pilgrim, 204 F. Supp. 2d 765 (P. Ot. 1943).
APA in-text citation
(Scott v. Pilgrim, 1943)

APA court case citation: State court cases

State courts, including appellate and Supreme Courts, are held in specific states and can be included in APA case citation. They are cited similarly as follows:

APA format
Name v. Name, Volume number, Reporter Page number (Court Year). URL
APA reference entry
James v. Harden Org., 456 N.E.2d 408 (Ind. 2008).
APA in-text citation
James v. Harden., Org., 2008)


In APA court case citation, recent court cases may not have print pages; use three underscores as a series to illustrate this. For example, Newark v. Chalton, 765 U. S. ___ (2019).

Include the names of the opposing parties, page number, and year. Specify the district court you are referring to in parentheses.

Indicating a URL in APA court case citation is optional. It may assist the reader in locating the source, but it is not a requirement.

Standard abbreviations are used in place of most words in legal citations. Several resources outline the appropriate abbreviations for each case released by legal institutes.