Answered By: Jonathan Faerber
Last Updated: Sep 30, 2020     Views: 676

Pinpoints are used in legal citations to direct a reader to the specific location where source material was retrieved, similar to the way that the APA Style rules use page or paragraph numbers.

Unless the page number is the most specific location available for cited information, pinpoints in legal citations to specific locations or of quoted or paraphrased material should include the chapter, section, article, and/or paragraph number of the cited material, where applicable, instead of the standard page number included in APA Style parenthetical in-text citations (McGill Law Journal, 2018, E-13). The abbreviations for each of these divisions is listed below and formatted in bold font in the examples:

  • Page: no abbreviation (e.g., R v Morgentaler, [1988] 1 SCR 30 at 31)
  • Paragraph: para” (e.g., Victoria (City) v. Smith, 2020 BCSC 1173 at para 18).
  • Section: “s” (e.g., Criminal Code, 1985 RSC, c C-46 s 293).
  • Article (e.g., a section of a statute): art” (e.g., Ibid, art 1457).
  • Footnote: “n” (e.g., Xiao v. Fan, 2020 BCSC 69 at para 29, n 1).

In the above example, the abbreviation “c C-46 s 293” in the footnote containing the citation “Criminal Code, 1985 RSC, c C-46 s 293” indicates the exact location of cited material within the Criminal Code. Similar to APA Style, a range of locations beginning in on section and ending in another can be connected with a dash “– ” as in “c C-46 ss 293–298” (the abbreviation “ss” stands for “section 293 to section 298” (McGill Law Journal, 2018, E-13). On the other hand, a comma combines two separate locations in a single citation, as in “ss 293(1), 295(2)–(3)” (McGill Law Journal, 2018, E-13).

As with in-text citations in APA Style, it is necessary to cite each reference to a source of paraphrased or quoted text in a legal citation, and to include the location of quotations or a passage in the source itself where relevant (McGill Law Journal, 2018, E-6). However, instead of including the name and date of published material within parentheses at the end of the sentence, the McGill Guide (2018) uses superscripted numbers to communicate a citation to a legal resource within a text and each superscripted number within the text corresponds to “citation footnotes” containing a full citation at the bottom of the page in which the legal resource is cited (McGill Law Journal, 2018, E-6). To learn more about the basic formats for legal citations to cases and legislation, please search WriteAnswers for examples of the legal resources you are looking for, and please refer to the information on Canadian Statutes, Cases, and Legislation on the Writing Centre website for an introduction to the McGill Guide rules for legal citations.


McGill Law Journal. (2018). Canadian guide to uniform legal citation (9th ed.). Thomson Reuters.