Using a California Citation

What is a citation?

A citation is a standard reference to a published court decision; basically, the “address” where the case can be located.

Elements of a full citation:

Case Name

The name of the parties of the suit


Precedes the reporter abbreviation and tells you what book to look in


The Abbreviated name of the resource in which the case is located

Series Number

A publisher will separate sets by series numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th).  Typically, the higher the series, the more recent the case will be.

Page Number

Identifies where the case begins in the report

Parallel Citations

  • Many times, cases are published by more than one authority/source. A citation may include “parallel citations”, which point to other resources that cite the cases
  • The first citation cited is the “official” report, the citations after are “unofficial.”  The designation “official” or “unofficial” do not diminish the authority of a case, it only affects the order in which they are cited


Date the case was decided


Case Reports- State
California Supreme Court
California Reports (Cal., C)
California Courts of Appeal
California Appellate Reports (Cal. App., CA)
California Reporter (Cal. Rptr., CR)
Pacific Reporter (Pac., P) 

Case Reports- Federal
United States Reports (U.S.)
Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.)
United States Reports Lawyers Edition (Law. Ed.)
Federal Reporter (Fed., F)
Federal Supplement (F. Supp., FS)
Bankruptcy Reporter (BR)
Federal Rules Decisions (FRD)
Unites States Tax Cases (USTC)
Veterans Appeals Reporter (Vet. App.)


Please Note: The information presented in this information sheet is intended to provide information over a particular subject. For information pertaining to your case please consult with an attorney, court facilitator, or specialist.


This guide is also available on our website using_a_CA_citation_20200229.pdf

Rev. 02/29/2020