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AGLC4: Australian Guide to Legal Citation 4th edition:  Footnotes

UON library guide to AGLC4: Australian Guide to Legal Citation 4th edition

General Rules for Footnotes





When to Footnote  (see details at AGLC4: 1.1.1)

Footnotes should be used to

  • provide authority for a proposition;
  • acknowledge a relevant source;
  • provide information for sources or quotations cited in the text (direct quotations should always be followed by a footnote unless their source is provided in full in the text).
  • The first citation of a source should appear in full. 


Position of Footnote Numbers (see details at AGLC4: 1.1.2)

  • Footnote number in the text leads readers to the footnote at the bottom of the same page.
  • In-text footnote numbers should generally be placed at the end of a sentence after the punctuation (eg full stops, brackets, quotation marks, and commas, except em-dashes, which it precedes.) or directly after the relevant text if needed.
  • In-text footnote numbers run in sequential order across the document, ie each repeated citation will have a new number, even when the cited pages are the same.
  • Footnote number in the text or at bottom of page should be in superscript, eg 15
  • Footnotes should be single line spaced, with hanging indent.


Multiple Sources in One Footnote (see details at AGLC4: 1.1.3)

  • Use a semicolon (;) to separate multiple sources cited in a single footnote;
  • The word 'and' should not be used to separate the last two sources;
  • When citing additional sources with a different introductory signal a new sentence (and not a semicolon) should be used.


Closing Punctuation in Footnotes (see details at AGLC4: 1.1.4)

  • A full stop (or other appropriate closing punctuation) should appear at the end of every footnote. 


Discursive Text in Footnotes (see details at AGLC4: 1.1.5)

  • Footnotes may contain discursive text (ie text that is not a citation). 
  • Citation relating to discursive text in footnotes should appear after a colon at the end of the relevant text (unless the full citation appears within the discursive text, include any relevant pinpoints).
  • When citing a sources that has been cited earlier in the same footnote, or citing a different pinpoint to that cited earlier, use 'at' before the subsequent pinpoint. 
  • Where there are multiple pinpoints to a single source in a single discursive sentence in a footnote, a semicolon should be used after each pinpoint that appears in the sentence.


Pinpoint References (see details at AGLC4: 1.1.6-1.1.7) 

  • A ‘pinpoint reference’ is a reference to a specific page, paragraph, footnote or other section of a source. 
  • Pinpoint references should immediately follow the citation of the source. 
  • A pinpoint reference to a paragraph should appear as a number in square brackets, not preceded by ‘para’ except for legislative materials and certain international materials. 
  • A pinpoint reference to a footnote or endnote should include a page and/or paragraph number, and the footnote/endnote number, eg 25 [34] nn 22-3.
  • Use paragraph numbers for unpaginated sources.
  • Use commas to separate multiple pinpoint references to a same source.
  • Include the page number when a quote is cited.
  • Use a non-spaced en-dash to separate a span of pinpoint references, eg 45-48, [32]-[44]
  • Shorten the spans of pinpoint references except for paragraphs.
  • For spans of paragraphs, both paragraph numbers should appear separately, enclosed in separate square brackets, eg ‘[56]–[59]’, not: ‘[56–9]’. 


Introductory Signals for Citations (see details at AGLC4: 1.2)

  • An introductory signal may be used before a citation to indicate the relationship between the source and its corresponding proposition in the text. Multiple introductory signals may be used within a single footnote.
  • Meaning of the introductory signals
    See:  The source provides qualified support for the proposition in the text. 
    See, eg,:  The source is one of several authorities supporting the proposition. 
    See also:  The source provides additional or general support for the proposition in the text. 
    See especially: The source is the strongest of several authorities supporting the proposition in the text. 
    See generally: The source provides background information on the topic discussed in the text. 
    Cf: The source provides a useful contrast to illustrate the proposition in the text. (‘Cf’ means ‘compare’.) 
    But see: The source is in partial disagreement with the proposition in the text.

Sources Referring to Other Sources  (see details at AGLC4: 1.3)

  • Where it is important to show that one source is referred to in another source, the following and other phrases may be used depending on the context. These phrases should be preceded by a comma. 
    • quoting: The first-listed source quotes the second source directly. 
    • quoted in: The first-listed source is quoted directly in the second source. 
    • citing: The first-listed source refers to (but does not quote directly) the second source. 
    • cited in: The first-listed source is referred to (but not quoted directly) in the second source. 
    • discussing: The first-listed source discusses the second source. 
    • discussed in: The first-listed source is discussed in the second source. 

Subsequent References / Repeated Citation (see details at AGLC4: 1.4)

  • When citing a source that has previously been cited, a shortened form of the citation should be used: use 'ibid'  to refer to a source in the immediately preceding footnote, including any pinpoints; use a cross-reference 'n' (the previous footnote number) to refer to a source other than the immediately preceding one. 
  • For cases and legislation, use the short title followed by a cross-reference in parentheses.
  • For most secondary sources, use the pattern of Author Surname (n Footnote Number ) Pinpoint eg MacMillan (n 48) 41.
    • For several works by the same author, add the title or the short title to the citation;
    • For works by different authors with the same surname, use the authors’ full names;
    • For secondary sources authored by a body, use a short title instead of the name of the corporate author, ie Short Title (n Footnote Number ) Pinpoint. 
    • Where there is no author or editor, use the title or short title in their format, eg italicised for a book title, in inverted commas for a journal article or working paper.
  • Subsequent references of UN and WTO Documents should be cited in accordance with rules 9.5 and 13.4 of AGLC4.


 Ibid (see details at AGLC4: 1.4.3)

  • Use 'ibid' to refer to a source in the immediately preceding footnote, including any pinpoints.
    • 'ibid' can be followed by different pinpoints.
    • ‘Ibid’ should be capitalised if it appears at the start of a footnote.
    • Introductory signals can be used with ‘ibid’, however ‘ibid’ refers only to the source in the preceding footnote, not the introductory signal. 
    • 'Ibid' should not be used to refer to a source cited earlier in the same footnote.
    • ‘ibid’ should not be used where there are multiple sources in the preceding footnote.
    • ‘ibid’ should not be used where there is a pinpoint in the immediately preceding footnote but no pinpoint is required in the subsequent footnote


Short Titles (see details at AGLC4: 1.4.4)

  • Short titles are a shortened form of the title of a source.
  • A short title should be enclosed in (non-italic) inverted commas and parentheses after the initial citation in a footnote or reference in the text of a source.
  • When introducing the short title within a footnote, the short title should be provided at the end of the initial citation after any pinpoints
  • The title should be italicised for cases, legislation and books.
  • The first citation of a source in a footnote should always be given in full, but subsequent citations in footnotes may use the short title. 
  • The short title for cases should generally be
    • the popular case name (eg ‘Tasmanian Dam Case’); or
    • the first-named party; or 
    • the second-named party when the first-named party is the Crown; or 
    • the name of the ship in an admiralty case. 


Subsequent References within the Same Footnote (see details at AGLC4: 1.4.6)

  • Where the same source is cited multiple times within the same footnote, the full citation should not be repeated and ‘at’ should precede subsequent pinpoint references. 
  • Where there are multiple sources in a footnote, ‘at’ should be used only to refer to the immediately preceding source. 
  • Where there are multiple pinpoints to a single source in a single discursive sentence in a footnote, a semicolon should be used after each pinpoint reference that appears in the sentence, eg

11Sullivan v Moody (2001) 207 CLR 562. The Court acknowledged that finding a duty may ‘cut across other legal principles’: at 580 [53]; meaning that it was ‘a question about [the] coherence of the law’: at 581 [55]. 


Quotations  (see details at AGLC4: 1.5)

  • Quotations may be used in the body of the text and in footnotes.
  • Short quotations (of three lines or less) should be incorporated into the text using single quotation marks.
  • Long quotations (of four lines or more) should appear indented from the left margin, in a smaller font size, and without quotation marks. Legislative and treaty extracts, however long, may also appear this way. 
  • Where a long quotation appears in a footnote, the citation to the source should appear on the line directly preceding or following the quotation. 
  • In short quotations, double quotation marks should be used for a quotation within the quoted text, single quotation marks for a further quotation inside that, and so forth.
  • In long quotations, single quotation marks should be used for a quotation within the quoted text, double quotation marks for a further quotation inside that, and so forth.
  • Omissions from a quotation should be indicated by an ellipsis (‘...’). A space should precede and follow an ellipsis. However, a space should not separate an ellipsis and a footnote number.
  • If a quotation is altered, the alteration should be included within square brackets.
  • ‘[sic]’ should be inserted after a significant error (eg discriminatory or offensive expressions) in material being quoted. Insignificant errors should be left as they appear in the original and should not be followed by ‘[sic]’. The preferable solution, where possible, is to paraphrase the passage to avoid any such expression.


Punctuation (see details at AGLC4: 1.6)

  • Full stops should not be used in abbreviations, after initials or after heading numbers or letters.
  • A full stop (or other appropriate closing punctuation) should appear at the end of every footnote.
  • Square brackets should be used to indicate an adjustment to a quotation, or to enclose comments that did not appear in the original text being quoted.  


Capitalisation (see details at AGLC4: 1.7)

  • Capitalise the titles of all cited materials headline style, ie capitalise all words except articles (eg ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’), conjunctions (eg ‘and’, ‘but’) and prepositions (eg ‘on’, ‘with’, ‘before’, ‘within’, ‘in’).
  • The following words should generally be capitalised: 
  • Act (or ‘Bill’) of Parliament 
  • Attorney-General 
  • Bar (group of practising barristers) 
  • Bench (judiciary/where judges sit) 
  • Cabinet 
  • Commonwealth 
  • Crown 
  • Executive Council 
  • Governor, Governor-General 
  • Her Majesty, the Queen 
  • her/his Honour, their Honours 
  • Imperial 
  • Law Lord/s 
  • Lords of Appeal in Ordinary 
  • Member (of Parliament) 
  • Minister/s (of the Crown) 
  • Ombudsman/s 
  • Parliament 
  • Premier 
  • Prime Minister 
  • Senator (Member of the Senate) 


Italicisation (see details at AGLC4: 1.8)

  • All case names, statute titles, treaty titles and book titles should be italicised;


Spelling and Grammar (see details at AGLC4: 1.9)

  • Spelling should comply with the latest edition of the Macquarie Dictionary. Where alternative spellings are given, the first-listed should be used unless there is good reason to do otherwise. 
  • Where a word is not included in the Macquarie Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary should be used. This will generally mean that British English spelling is preferred to American variants. 
  • Grammar should generally be guided by the latest edition of Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage.
  • Gender-inclusive language should generally be used. It is preferred to use ‘they’ (and derivative forms ‘their’ and ‘them’) as neutral singular pronouns.

Numbers, Currency and Units (see details at AGLC4: 1.10)

  • Numbers under 10 should be written in words. Numerals should be used for numbers over nine; 
  • Where a span of numbers is referred to, only the minimum number of digits necessary should be included in the second number (eg ‘87–8’, ‘436–62’). However, for numbers whose last two digits are between 10–19, the last two digits should always be included (eg ‘11–14’, ‘215–19’).
  • The letters in ordinal numbers over nine should appear in superscript.
  • Currency amounts should appear as numerals, either immediately preceded by an appropriate symbol, or immediately preceded by the currency denominator without a symbol, eg  €100 or AUD1.3 million.
  • Units of measurement after a numeral (such as weight, dosage, length, etc) should be preceded by a space, eg 100-50 cm. 


Dates and Time (see details at AGLC4: 1.11-1.11.4)

  • A full date should be written in the form: Day Month Year, eg Thursday 6 March 1987.
  • A time should generally be written in the form: Hour : Minute : Second am/pm 
    • The minute and second may be omitted depending on the accuracy required. Where the minute and second are included, they should always be two digits long. ‘am’/’pm’ should not be preceded by a space.
  • Spans of years should include the first year in full, an en-dash, and the last two digits of the final year (eg ‘2001–08’). However, if the final year occurs in a different century from the first, the final year should appear in full (eg ‘1999–2010’).

Legal Abbreviations


Legal abbreviations are used extensively in law to identify legal publications and courts. In legal citations, abbreviations are used for law reports, law courts and commonly used legal terms.

Abbreviations Rules: 

  • Do not use full stops in abbreviations — rule 1.6.1
  • Business Corporations and Firms Abbreviations — rule 2.1.2
  • Case History Abbreviations — rule 2.5
  • Case Reporting Series Abbreviations — appendix A
  • The Crown Abbreviations — rule 2.1.4
  • Delegated Legislation Abbreviations — rule 3.4
  • Editor Abbreviations — rule 6.6.2
  • Ex parte Abbreviation — rule 2.1.9
  • ex rel Abbreviation — rule 2.1.10
  • Judicial Officers and Counsel Abbreviations — rule 2.4.1
  • Jurisdiction Abbreviations — rule 3.1.3
  • Numbers, Currency and Units Abbreviations — rule 1.10
  • Pinpoint Abbreviations — appendix C
  • Pinpoint Abbreviations — rule 3.1.4
  • Re Abbreviations — rule 2.1.8
  • Treaty Series Abbreviations — rule 8.4
  • United Nations Bodies Abbreviations — rule 9.2.10
  • United Nations Organ and Official Records — rule 9.2.4
  • United Nations Organ and Type Abbreviations — rule 9.2.3
  • Common legal abbreviations used in the footnotes: 
    • Where confusion may result, spell out the word instead.
    • The plurals of the noun abbreviations given here other than r andare formed through the addition of s (eg chs for chapters).
  Abbreviations   Terms    Abbreviations   Terms
           amend   Amendment





































Key Abbreviation Tools



How to Insert a Footnote in MS Word

Note: information on this page is about using MS word in general, it is not AGLC4 specific. 


To insert a footnote into the text in MS Word:

  • Click the place you want to insert the footnote, then
  • Click References from the top menu bar, then
  • Click Insert Footnote.

A superscript note number will be inserted into the text, and a corresponding footnote number created at the bottom of page.


To change the footnote number from superscript to normal size:

  • Highlight the footnote number
  • On the Home tab, click the Superscript icon X2
  • To change it back, click the icon again


A video demo on how to insert footnotes in Word by the MS support

Please note: the footnotes in the demo are not any style specific. 

Help and Information