How to Cite a Court Case in APA Format: Guidelines & Samples

In the 7th edition of APA guidelines, legal citations, such as laws and court cases, differ from other APA citations. They typically omit authors and employ abbreviations to enhance conciseness. Before considering how to cite a court case in APA, let’s analyze some general rules. When citing a court case in APA or decision, it’s necessary to include information about the reporter, which is the publication where the cases are documented. The citation should include the case name, the volume number, the abbreviated reporter’s name, and number of a page, the court name, the year, and the URL (if available). 


Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). 

In the in-text citation, the case name should be in italics. Still, it doesn’t concern the reference list. Instead of specifying a full page range, only the page number where the coverage of the case starts should be mentioned in the reference. 

Using abbreviations in an APA citation of a court case

Legal citations commonly use abbreviations for most words, resulting in many standard abbreviations.

  • Court name

The standard postal abbreviation is used for the court name (e.g., “U.S.” for the United States, “Ct. App.” for the Court of Appeals, “S. Ct.” for the Supreme Court, “D.C. Cir.” for the District of Columbia Circuit). Look here for more abbreviation.

  • Case reporter

Abbreviate the title of the case reporter using the standard abbreviation (e.g., “U.S.” for United States Reports, “F.3d” for Federal Reporter, “N.E.2d” for Northeastern Reporter).

  • Volume and page number

The standard abbreviation is applied for the volume and page number (e.g., “vol.” for volume, “pp.” for page, and “no.” for number).

In a case title, the term “v.” denotes “versus” between the names of the involved parties. However, outside the context of legal citations, APA suggests using “vs.” instead.

If you need guidance on how to cite a court case in APA or apply a Bluebook citation format, contact writing experts from EduBirdie, who have extended experience creating content on this subject.

How to cite federal court cases

Federal court cases refer to legal proceedings that occur at the national level within the United States, involving the U.S. Supreme Court, circuit courts, or district courts.

  • Citing supreme court case in APA

As the highest federal court, decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court are documented in the United States Reports, abbreviated as “U.S.” in the reference. In this case, there is no need to mention the court in parentheses since the reporter's name already indicates it.


Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

  • Citing circuit court cases

The Federal Reporter documents decisions from the U.S. circuit courts. This reporter is published in three series: the first series is abbreviated as “F.”, the 2nd as “F.2d”, and the 3rd as “F.3d”. Since there are 13 circuit courts, indicating the specific circuit court within parentheses is needed (e.g., “7th Cir.” to specify the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals).


Smith v. Johnson, 625 F.3d 123 (9th Cir. 2010).

  • Citing district court cases

Decisions from these courts are documented in the Federal Supplements. Similar to the Federal Reporter, the Federal Supplements are organized into three series: “F. Supp.”, “F. Supp. 2d”, and “F. Supp. 3d”. Considering numerous district courts, you must specify the particular district court cited (e.g., “N.D. Tex.” for the Northern District of Texas).


Roe v. Wade, 410 F. Supp. 113 (N.D. Tex. 1973).

How to cite state court cases?

State courts are judicial systems that function within individual states rather than at the federal level. Supreme and appellate courts are two primary types of state courts frequently referenced. These courts follow a similar citation format when being cited. Let’s consider a court case citation example:

In-text citation:

(Smith v. Johnson, 2023).

Reference list citation:

Smith v. Johnson, 456 P.3d 789 (Cal. 2023).


In APA style, how should I go about citing a court case reported in multiple publications?

When citing legal cases in APA format, it’s advisable to include all the publications reported on the case. This is known as a parallel citation, and multiple reporters can be listed by detaching them with commas in the reference entry. Repeating the name of the case, case brief, year, or court for each citation is unnecessary. Instead, provide the volume, the reporter's name, and the page number for every citation. 

Is it required to insert a URL into an APA legal reference?

Including a URL in an APA reference entry for court cases and laws is not mandatory. It may be helpful for the reader to access the source, but it’s optional. The provided information should be sufficient to locate the source. Citing a court case in APA format can be intricate, so if you're finding it challenging, you might consider using a service to do my homework to ensure your citations are correctly formatted.

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