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Legal skills - Writing and referencing

In this Guide you will find resources and advice on legal writing and referencing.

Why should I reference? 

Referencing or citing your sources is an important part of academic writing because you: 

  • acknowledge the ideas or words of others if you use them in your work
  • demonstrate that you've read relevant literature
  • provide authority for your arguments
  • avoid plagiarism


The University of Tasmania Faculty of Law requires students to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation for formatting references. Below is a link to the AGLC4 Guide:



This guide is based on the AGLC guide developed by UWA. We would like to thank our colleagues for allowing us to use and adapt their material.

(Video courtesy of Swinburne Library, 2016) 

Below is some sample text with AGLC3

The AGLC Referencing Style has two main features, in-text reference numbers with accompanying footnotes which appear within the text of your assignment and are used to acknowledge each source you use and the bibliography which appears at the end of your assignment and is a complete list of everything you have cited. Bibliographies are not always required, so please check with your unit coordinator or publisher.


Sample Footnotes



Sample Bibliography 


(From Peter Handford, 'A New Limitation Act for the 21st Century' (2007) 33(2) University of Western Australia Law Review 387.)


When do I use footnotes?

You will add footnotes when you use information or ideas from a sources such as legislation, cases, books, journals, reports, newspapers, interviews, radio, television and information from the internet.

Footnotes are used to provide extra information that is not appropriate to include in the body of the text.

Footnotes are also used to back up an argument as well as to acknowledge a source that has contributed to an argument.

Where does the footnote go?

The superscript number should be placed at the end of the portion of text to which the corresponding footnote refers.

The number should appear after any relevant punctuation (such as a full stop or a comma). See the footnote examples above. 

What is a pinpoint?

A pinpoint is a reference to a specific place in the cited text, for example a page number or a section within legislation. 

What if I use the same source multiple times?

When a particular source is cited more than once in a paper, the full bibliographic details should not be provided each time in a footnote. The terms ‘ibid’ and ‘above n’ are used to refer to previous citations. Note that repeat citations of legislation and of cases may be indicated using ‘ibid’ but not ‘above n’.






Use ‘ibid’ to refer to a source if it is the only source cited in the immediately preceding footnote.

‘Ibid’ should always be capitalised when it appears at the start of a footnote.

If there is a pinpoint reference, and the next footnote is to the same work and to the same place in the cited text, use ‘ibid’.The pinpoint reference should not be repeated. If you refer to the same source as in the immediately preceding footnote but to a different page or section, use ‘ibid’ followed by the pinpoint reference, that is, the different page or section number. 

1. Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor(1937) 58 CLR 479, 480.

2. Joycey Tooher and Bryan Dwyer, Introduction to Property Law(LexisNexis Butterworths, 5th ed, 2008), 27.

3. Ibid 52–3.

'Above n'

Use ‘above n’ to refer to a source that has been cited in a previous footnote other than the immediately preceding one. However, use ‘above n’ to refer to an immediately preceding footnote, if that footnote lists more than one source.

Do not use 'above n' with case citations or legislation.

11. LexisNexis, Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary (at 10 September 2013) 'Comity'.

12. Ibid 'Jurisdiction'.

13. Simon Young and Sarah Murray, 'An Elegant Convergence? The Constitutional Entrenchment of Jurisdictional Error Review in Australia, (2011) 11(2) Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal 117, 118.

14. LexisNexis, above n 11 'Plaintiff'.

AGLC3 Tutorial

You may wish to try the online AGLC3  tutorial created by the University of Western Australia University Library and test your knowledge.