the legal citation requires equal parts art and
science. The science part of legal citation requires
the author to put the pieces together correctly,
and the reader to decode according to a standardized
referring to a code, case, or secondary legal periodical,
the core of any citation is the abbreviated title
of the source. The user easily learns the most commonly
cited sources of the jurisdiction. For Georgia,
those would include O.C.G.A. ("Official Code
of Georgia, Annotated"), S.E.2d ("South
Eastern Reporter, Second Series"), and U.S.
("United States Reports").
abbreviations, however, are neither so familiar
nor so obvious, and it can be helpful to know where
to look to decipher the true puzzler.
resources will be readily available to most law
students. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of
Citation includes the most frequently used
source abbreviations in U.S. jurisprudence, collected
in Tables in the blue pages in the back.
latest edition of Black's Law Dictionary
(8th, 2004) contains a "Table of Legal Abbreviations"
as Appendix A.
the most extensive listing of English-language legal
abbreviations is Bieber's Dictionary of
Legal Abbreviations. The latest edition is
kept on Ready Reference. A reference librarian will
be happy to let you see it.
foreign legal abbreviations, you might consult World
Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations, also in
the Reference collection (Call Number: K89.K38).
This multi-volume treatise has separate entries
by country, and lets you find the meaning of abbreviations
from that specific system.
there are abbreviation sources available online.
One can be found at the "Abbreviations &
Acronyms" page of the Jenkins Law Library,
an independent library founded in 1802, and formerly
the library for the Philadelphia Bar Association
any but the most obscure abbreviated legal resource
will be contained in one of these resources. Assuming,
that is, that the material has been correctly cited
to begin with. When this has not happened, reading
legal citation becomes more art than science. Try
to intuit from the context what the author may have
meant to refer to: what is the likely jurisdiction,
format, author, etc. If you can narrow down the
possibilities, it may become possible to decipher
even the sketchiest citation.