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What is AGLC?

The Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) is a footnote citation style specifically designed to identify legal sources. It does not deal with legal writing style. AGLC is medium neutral, which means it allows for a resource to be cited in a consistent manner, regardless of whether it has been published in print or online, in reported or unreported format.


This referencing guide is a summary of the full AGLC 4th Edition, and deals only with the most highly used sources by law students. The complete version of AGLC4 should be referred to when it is unclear how to correctly cite a particular source.



Proper citation in both academic and legal contexts serves to correctly and appropriately acknowledge relevant sources and authorities. Any time an idea or content from a source is used, it should be acknowledged in a footnote with appropriate locators (pinpoint references), and often also with a bibliography entry.

The main components of AGLC are:

  1. Citations in the body of the page, using a superscript (raised) number.
  2. A list of footnotes at the bottom (foot) of each page, for all citations on that page.
  3. A bibliography at the end of the paper, which provides details of each source mentioned in the text, as well as details of other sources consulted when researching for the paper. (A bibliography is optional, and is included at the discretion of individual academics.)

How to use AGLC effectively:

  1. Read the general rules (Part 1) which outline the conventions used across all legal sources - then go to the specific source type.
  2. The most specific rule for a source should be used.
  3. Where a source is not included in AGLC, adapt the closest fitting rule; common sense applies here.

Main elements

  • 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 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, and appear after any relevant punctuation (such as a full stop or a comma).

First footnote

  • Pinpoint references to pages must be included in the footnote but not a bibliography, rule 1.1.5-1.1.6.
  • Footnotes can include tangential or extraneous information that is not appropriate to include in the text., rule 1.1.1.

Subsequent footnotes

  • Ibid is used for second citation immediately following the first.
  • A book can be linked to a previous reference by using (n) with the appropriate footnote reference, rule 1.4.6.
  • Subsequent reference to sources rule 1.4.1 includes the author (n Footnote Number) Pinpoint rule 1.4.1.
  • Subsequent reference to sources where several items by the same author is cited you must include both the author and short title, rule 1.4.1.

Creating footnotes

Microsoft Word provides inbuilt functions to allow for easy tracking and building of footnote numbers. See this AskUs FAQ to learn how to use these functions.


A 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. AGLC recommends dividing your bibliography into the following:

A Articles/Books/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.

B Cases: Use only surnames, only cite the first plaintiff and defendant. Do not use '& Anor' or '& Ors.' Do not include punctuation in abbreviations. A reported version of a case should always be cited in preference to an unreported version. Authorised report series should be used when available. Generalist (unauthorised) report series should be cited in preference to subject specific (unauthorised) report series.

C Legislation Cite the short title of the Act including 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 italicise the title and year of a bill.

D 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.

E Other 
See the complete guide for material covered by this division, which includes Law Reform Commission Reports, Legal Encyclopedias, Looseleaf services, Government documents, such as Parliamentary Debates and Theses. It also covers Internet Materials.

In-text quotations are covered in rule 1.5.1

  • Short quotations (three lines or less) are incorporated within single quotation marks; and
  • 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.  See rule 1.5.1.

Tools, guides, and classes

The University Library provides students with free access to EndNote and RefWorks software. Both have the same purpose: to make the management and formatting of references more streamlined. It is worth looking at both tools to determine which one could be right for you, depending on how you like to work. The Library recommends that undergraduate and coursework students use RefWorks, and higher degree by research students and academic staff use EndNote.

  • RefWorks is a fully cloud-based tool, meaning that there is no requirement to install or upgrade the software and users have access to the full features of the software online.
  • EndNote requires installation on one of your devices in order for you to access the full features of the software.

Read more about the difference between EndNote and RefWorks.

Certain errors have been identified in the fourth edition of AGLC4. Click on Australian Guide Legal Citation Erratum, to view authoritative changes. These corrections are accurate as of 29 December 2018