Research Guides

TMLL Research Guide - Chapter 4


Rule 12 provides detailed instructions for statute citation form. The general rule is to cite to the current “official” code (usually, but not always, a version published by the government) whenever possible.  If it is not possible to cite to the official code, you should cite to a current unofficial (commercially published) code.

The basic format for citing statutes is as follows:

  • the abbreviated name of the code (found in Table T.1);
  • the section, paragraph, or article number(s) of the statute;
  • and the year of the code (according to Rule 12.3.2).

Example: Va. Code Ann. § 33.1-1218 (2014).

Several questions must be addressed when determining the citation form for statutes.

Which version of the code to cite?

Consult Table T.1 of the Bluebook and look up your jurisdiction. The Table provides a list of statutory compilations available for each jurisdiction and the correct format for citing each compilation, including correct abbreviations and whether to include the name of the publisher in the parenthetical.  For those jurisdictions in which more than one statutory compilation is available, cite to the official compilation if possible; otherwise, cite to an unofficial compilation.

How to determine which date to include in the citation?

Following Rule 12.3.2 “[w]hen citing a bound volume of the current official or unofficial code, provide parenthetically the year that appears on the spine of the volume, the year that appears on the title page, or the latest copyright year – in that order of preference.”  Note that the volume date most likely does not correspond with the enactment date or the effective date of any of the statute sections included in the volume.

How to deal with statute text which is split between the main code volume and a pocket part or supplement?

If the statutory language itself (not annotation material) appears completely in the pocket part or supplement (that is, the statute was passed since the publication of the bound volume), use the term "Supp." and include in the parenthetical the date(s) of the pocket part or supplement, as follows:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 112, § 5 (West Supp. 2014).

If the statutory language (not just the annotation material) appears partially in the main volume and partially in the pocket part or supplement, which happens, for example, when a statute is amended after the publication of the most recent bound code volume, include both years as follows:

8 U.S.C.S. § 1154 (LexisNexis 2008 & Supp. 2014).
8 U.S.C.A. § 1154 (West 2005 & Supp. 2014).

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