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Research Guides

Supreme Court of the United States

Interpreting Citations

Interpreting a Case Citation:

An example of a case citation: United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 132 S.Ct. 945, 181 L.Ed.2d 911 (2012).

  • United States v. Jones. = Names of the parties in the case. (In the trial court, the first name listed is the plaintiff, the party bringing the suit. The name following the "v" is the defendant. If the case is appealed, as in this example, the name of the petitioner (appellant) is usually listed first, and the name of the respondent (appellee) is listed second. If the defendant in the trial court case brings an appeal, the defendant's name may be listed first in the appellate case.)
  • 565, 132, and 181 = Volume numbers of the reporters (books) containing the full-text of the court's opinion.
  • U.S., S.Ct., and L.Ed.2d = Bluebook abbreviations for the reporters (United States Reports, Supreme Court Reporter, Supreme Court Reports Lawyers' Edition) containing the court's opinion.
  • 400, 945, and 911 = First page of the court’s opinion in the respective reporters. If you see an incomplete citation such as 573 U.S. ___, the ___ indicates a page number is not yet available in the official reporter, United States Reports.
  • 2012 = Year the case was decided.

Deciphering Acronyms and Abbreviations

Commonly Used:

  • U.S. (United States Reports)

  • S.Ct. (Supreme Court Reporter)

  • L. Ed. (Supreme Court Reports Lawyers' Edition)

  • F., F.2d, F.3d (Federal Reporter)

  • F. Cas. (Federal Cases)

  • F.R.D. (Federal Rules Decisions)

  • F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d (Federal Supplement)

  • A.L.R. (American Law Reports)

  • Am. Jur. (American Jurisprudence)

  • C.J.S. (Corpus Juris Secundum)


Reference Resources:

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students

Location: READY REFERENCE (1ST FL)  and  RESERVE (1ST FL) KF246 .B46 2017 

Bluebook Rules

  • B4: Sources and Authorities: Cases
  • Rule 10: Cases
  • Table 1: United States Jurisdictions
  • Table 6: Case Names
  • Table 7: Court Names