5 Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) 4th Edition

Referencing acknowledges the sources of ideas and information used in written work. Correct referencing is an important skill as it:

  • prevents allegations of plagiarism
  • provides evidence of relevant research, wide reading, and authorities for legal arguments
  • enables readers to locate and verify information sources
  • forms part of ethical practice by acknowledging the work of others.

The referencing style used in the Australian law discipline is currently the 4th edition of Australian Guide to Legal Citation (‘AGLC’),[1]  which is available for free download from the Melbourne University Law Review. The AGLC is a footnote referencing style and prescribes rules and elements to construct footnote references for a wide variety of source types. It is divided into the following sections:

  • Part I — General Rules
  • Part II — Domestic Sources
  • Part III — Secondary Sources
  • Part IV — International Materials
  • Part V — Foreign Domestic Sources.

AGLC 4 – General Rules

Newcomers to the AGLC should begin by reviewing Part I for an overview of rules that apply generally across the style. Key general rules include:

Table 3: Overview of Australian Guide to Legal Citation key general rules
1.1.2 Insert footnote numbers after any punctuation, eg ….is outlined in the relevant Act.1
1.1.3 Use a semicolon ; to separate multiple citations within a single footnote.
1.1.4 End all footnote citations with a full stop.
1.1.6 Do not use prefixes before pinpoint page numbers, eg use 35 — not p 35, p. 35, pg 35, at 35, per 35 etc.  Pinpoint paragraph numbers are generally enclosed in square brackets, eg [15]. Separate multiple pinpoint references with a comma.
1.1.7 Use an en-dash to separate spans of pinpoint references, eg 21–2 or [35]–[37].
1.2 Where appropriate, use introductory signals before a citation, eg see, see also, see especially, see generally, cf.
1.3 Rules for citing a source that is quoted in, cited or discussed in another source.
1.4 Rules for subsequent references are discussed in detail in the section on Subsequent References in AGLC.
1.6.1 Do not use full stops in abbreviations or after initials.
1.6.3 Rules for em-dashes, en-dashes, hyphens and slashes.
1.7 Capitalise the first letter of the first word in a title or subtitle and of main words within source titles, eg Effective Legal Writing: A Practical Guide.
1.8.1 Italicise all source titles, wherever they appear, as required by AGLC rules.
1.11.1 Dates are written as Day Month Year, eg 10 November 2022.
1.13 Formatting a bibliography in AGLC style is discussed in detail in the section on Bibliographies in AGLC style.

Direct Quotations

A direct quote must appear in the format outlined in AGLC 1.5. This includes extracts copied word for word from legislation and case judgments.

Short quotations (3 lines or less) — type the quotation into the main text and add single quotation marks around the quote.

Short quotation example

Legal research is a vital skill because ‘what you learn in law school, or in your years as a lawyer, can easily change and become outdated or superseded’.[2]

Alternative short quotation example (from open text)

Australia has traditionally made a ‘clear distinction between the various areas of law making up the law of obligations’.[3]

Long quotations (more than 3 lines) — indent as a separate paragraph using smaller font size and no quotation marks.

Long quotation example

Custom or trade usage may give rise to implied contractual terms:

Over time, particular contractual clauses have become typical for certain types of trade. Some of these have reached such widespread acceptance that virtually anybody in that line of trade would assume all contracts done within that line of trade to contain those particular terms. The law recognises this fact and, thus, terms may be implied based on custom or trade usage.[4]


AGLC 1.5 also outlines rules for omissions, introducing and editing quotes.

  1. Melbourne University Law Review Association and Melbourne Journal of International Law, Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th ed, 2018) (‘AGLC’).
  2. Jay Sanderson, Drossos Stamboulakis and Kim Kelly, A Practical Guide to Legal Research (Lawbook, 5th ed, 2021) 1.
  3. Dan Jerker B Svantesson, Svantesson on the Law of Obligations (Bond University, 4th rev ed, 2022) pt 1.1.
  4. Ibid pt 2.3.


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Legal Research Skills: An Australian Law Guide: 2023 Edition Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland, James Cook University, the University of Southern Queensland, Charles Darwin University, Southern Cross University, Queensland University of Technology, and Deakin University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.