AGLC: 1 Easy Style for Legal Papers - Custom Scholars

AGLC: 1 Easy Style for Legal Papers

The Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) is a product of joined forces between Melbourne University Law Review and Melbourne Journal of International Law. First published in 1998, the style is now in its fourth edition. The creators of AGLC have consistently updated the style guide to ensure that it continues to serve the ever changing landscape of legal studies.

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AGLC is a footnoting style. Footnote numbers are positioned after punctuation and appear at the end of each page of your document. Use a full stop at the end of each footnote. Include a pinpoint reference where appropriate, e.g., the specific page, paragraph or section.

For the most part, AGLC is keener on how sources are referenced than any other thing. Therefore, the style focuses on three important areas for referencing sources:

  • Citations in the body of the page, using a superscript (raised) number
  • A list of footnotes at the bottom (foot) of each page, for all citations on that page
  • Possibly a bibliography (ask your tutor or lecturer). If a bibliography is required it should be provided at the end of the paper and give details of each source mentioned in the text, as well as details of other sources consulted in preparing the paper

Referencing in AGLC

Legal studies are concerned with two types of sources. Primary sources are legislation and case law. Unreported judgments also fall in this category. There are also secondary sources which is sort of everything else from books to journal articles and law databases. AGLC is keen on separating these sources. 


  • Superscript numbers with corresponding footnotes should be used whenever information or ideas from sources are discussed. Sources such as legislation, cases, books, journals, reports, newspapers, interviews, radio, television and information from the internet must be acknowledged in text and detailed in footnotes.
  • Footnotes are also used to provide extra information that is not appropriate to include in the body of the text. Additionally, they are used to back up an argument as well as to acknowledge a source that has contributed to an argument.
  • The superscript number should be placed at the end of the portion of text to which the corresponding footnote refers. The number should appear after any relevant punctuation (such as a full stop or a comma).


Primary Sources Legislation Short Title of the Act Year (Jurisdiction) Pinpoint.
Case law Case Name [(Year)] volume Report Series Abbreviation Starting Page, Pinpoint
Secondary Sources Book First Name Last Name, Title of book, (Publisher, Edition, Year) Pinpoint
Journal First Name Last Name, ‘Title of article’ ({Year}) Volume (Issue) Journal Name Starting page, Pinpoint.
Website First name Last Name, Document title (Full date) Website name <URL>



Legal writing often use direct quotations. This is especially useful where you need to include a judge’s remarks in the text. Some are too significant to water down whilst attempting to paraphrase. Short quotations (three lines or less) are incorporated within single quotation marks. Long quotations (four lines or more) should be indented from left margin, in a smaller font size, and without quotation marks, unless there is a quote within your long quote.



AGLC Bibliography sample

An AGLC bibliography must list all sources that were used, not only those referred to in the text and footnotes. Sources should be listed alphabetically under each heading. Full stops should not follow the citation. The AGLC guide suggests that you divide the bibliography is sections.

The first section should have books, articles and reports. Where there is one author, the author’s first name and surname should be inverted and separated by a comma. When there are two or more authors, only the first author’s name and surname should be inverted.

The second sections should have case law. Use only surnames, don’t use given names or initials. Only cite the first plaintiff and defendant. Do not include punctuation in abbreviations. A reported version of a case should always be cited in preference to an unreported version. Authorized report series should be used when available. Generalist (unauthorized) report series should be cited in preference to subject specific (unauthorized) report series.

The third section of an AGLC bibliography should have legislation and statutes. Cite the short title of the Act and the year in which the Act was originally passed in italics. Citations of an Act refer to that Act as amended (and consolidated). Do not italicize the title and year of a bill. Delegated legislation (for example, regulations, rules and orders) should be cited in the same way as an Act.

The fourth section is treaties. A citation of a treaty should include the treaty title in italics as it appears on the first page of the treaty. For multilateral treaties with more than three signatories, the names of states parties should not be included after the title.

Then the last and fifth section is where every other source goes. It also covers internet materials. Only cite a web page when it doesn’t exist in print. The full date of the last update should be included, if available, otherwise use the date of creation.


Short Title of the Act Year (Jurisdiction) Pinpoint

When citing legislation refer to the principal Act – it is assumed this refers to the act as amended. Only refer to an amending Act if it is relevant to a particular point in an argument. Always cite legislation in print format, regardless if accessed online.

AGLC Referencing for legislation. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Pinpoints should be abbreviated as stated in AGLC. The pinpoint abbreviation and number must be separated by a space, however do not add a space in between a section and sub-section number. Example: s 3(a) or s 31(1). Consecutive pinpoints should be separated by an em-dash “–“. Where referring to a legislative provision in the text of your work, you should write as you would speak.





Case Law

Case Name [(Year)] volume Report Series Abbreviation Starting Page, Pinpoint

The first reference to a source in the text should always provide the full title before introducing the short title. The first citation of a source in a footnote should always be given in full, but subsequent footnotes may use the short title.

When introducing the short title within a footnote, the short title should be provided at the end of the initial citation after any pinpoints or parenthetical clauses and should not be repeated in each subsequent citation.


Last Name, First Name, First Name Last Name and First Name Last Name, Title of book, (Publisher, Edition, Year) Pinpoint

Author, ‘Chapter Title’ in Editor (ed), Title (Publication Details) Starting Page, Pinpoint

Titles should be italicized and otherwise follow. In a bibliography the first authors name should be inverted with the family name first. Full stops should only be used at the end of a footnote. No full stops used after initials or in abbreviations. Citations are medium neutral. There is no difference between a citation for a book or an eBook.

Journal Article

Last Name, First Name, ‘Title of article’ ({Year}) Volume (Issue) Journal Name Starting page, Pinpoint

AGLC is not exactly specific on referencing online and print journals differently. Therefore the general rules for both are the same. Authors’ names should appear exactly as they do in the source.  This may result in multiple works by the same author being cited differently according to the source. In a bibliography the first author’s name should be inverted with the family name first. Full stops should only be used at the end of a sentence or a footnote. No full stops used after initials or in abbreviations.

Newspaper Article

Author, ‘Title’, Newspaper Name (Place of Publication, Full Date), Pinpoint <link>


Last Name, First Name, Document title (Full date) Website name <URL>

Author should only be included if an author is indicated on the web page being cited, such as when citing a blog post on an institutional blog. The author should be cited. Document title should be treated like the title of a journal article. Websites should be treated like the title of a book. Where the author and web page title are identical, the author should not be included.

Document types include ‘Blog Post’, ‘Forum Post’, etc. Where the document type of the source is not clear, ‘Web Page’ should be used. Where available, full date of last update of the web page should be included after the document name. If not shown, the full date of creation should be included. Where there is no full date on the web page or document, as much of the full date as appears should be included. Where there is no date, the full date should be omitted.

Web pages do not usually include pinpoints. Pinpoints are paragraph numbers, which should be included in citations in square brackets. URL should be included after the first reference to a source. A source should only be cited according to this rule if it does not exist in a published form and no other rule within AGLC 4 applies to it.

To Conclude…

It seems like the note-bibliography systems are more complex than the author-date systems. The good news, however, is that AGLC just like many others like it borrow a lot from the Chicago manual of style. For example, the AGLC style guide directs that if there are other sources that are not specified in the manual then you should consult the Chicago manual. Just like Vancouver and numerous other style, AGLC is not keen on instructing authors on how to write their text, just how to reference their sources.

Still, there is a lot to learn about applying the AGLC style. If you require some help, direction or confirmation then contact us. Let us rescue you from the hassle of reading through this and other guides every time you need to write a paper.

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