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Basic Legal Research

Parts of a Case Citation

Anatomy of a Case Citation

The same case may be included in multiple reporters.

  • Because each reporter is a separate publication, the citation format will be slightly different from reporter to reporter.
  • However, the text of the actual decision will be identical across reporters.
  • Note: legal databases still use the "print" citation format even though you find the case online.

The Same Case as Cited in Two Different Reporters

Illinois Appellate Reports North Eastern Reporter 
Pekin Ins. Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 329 Ill. App. 3d 46 (1st Dist. 2002). Pekin Ins. Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 768 N.E.2d 211 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2002).
Pekin Ins. Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co. The case name. If the parties are people instead of companies, only the last names will be used (e.g., Burns v. Simpson). Words in case names other than last names are abbreviated according to Table 6 in the Bluebook. Pekin Ins. Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co. The case name. If the parties are people instead of companies, only the last names will be used (e.g., Burns v. Simpson). Words in case names other than last names are abbreviated according to Table 6 in the Bluebook.
329 The volume number of the reporter in which this case is published. (Legal databases will use this same citation format even though there is no "volume" equivalent online.) 768 The volume number of the reporter in which this case is published. (Legal databases will use this  same citation format even though there is no "volume" equivalent online.)
Ill. App. 3d The abbreviation of the name of the reporter, in this example Illinois Appellate Reports 3d Series. N.E.2d The abbreviation of the name of the reporter, in this example North Eastern Reporter 2d Series.
46 The page number on which the case begins in the print version of the reporter. (Legal databases will use this same citation format even though there is no "page number" equivalent online.) 211 The page number on which the case begins in the print version of the reporter. (Legal databases will use this same citation format even though there is no "page number" equivalent online.)
1st Dist.

The Illinois appellate district court that heard the case.

It is important to identify the court because this will determine whether the decision will be considered binding or persuasive.

Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist.

Because the North Eastern Reporter contains cases from other states, the abbreviation "Ill." (not "IL") is needed to identify the state. The appellate district court that heard the case must also be included. (If this was an Illinois Supreme Court decision, the abbreviation would be only "Ill.")

It is important to identify the court because this will determine whether the decision will be considered binding or persuasive.

2002 The year the case was decided. You may sometimes see two dates when looking at a case. One is the date the case or argument was heard, and the second is the date decided (when the court released its opinion). When citing a case, you use the year the court decided the case, not the date argued. 2002 The year the case was decided. You may sometimes see two dates when looking at a case. One is the date the case or argument was heard, and the second is the date decided (when the court released its opinion). When citing a case, you use the year the court decided the case, not the date argued.
Notes

Illinois Appellate Reports ceased publication as of June 30, 2011. For cases decided on or after July 1, 2011, use the Public Domain Citation format when citing an Illinois appellate or Supreme Court case (see examples elsewhere in this Guide).

Illinois decisions dated July 1, 2011 and later are still published in the North Eastern Reporter. However, The North Eastern Reporter should not be used when citing an Illinois case to an Illinois court. Only use the official formats appropriate to the date of your case.

Notes

The North Eastern Reporter should not be used when citing an Illinois case to an Illinois court. Only use the official formats appropriate to the date of your case.

You may use the North Eastern Reporter (or the other regional reporters) when citing decisions from other states. However, decisions from other states are not binding on Illinois, they are merely persuasive.

Sample Page from an Online Case

Sample of a printed case with elements identified

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