McGill Guide

Just been introduced to the McGill Guide in law school and wondering what it’s all about? Read on to get the information on the law writing style and it’s perks.

The McGill Guide

For those who practice or study law, the McGill Guide is no stranger to them. This happens to be the most used guide when writing law related essays especially in Canada. Apart from law related writings, there is usually no need to learn about this form of writing.

The McGill Guide is actually called ‘The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation’. It is bilingual, based in Canada and has several of its features tailored to the law and its special features. Most legal practitioners, courts, law schools and universities, law papers and law institutions that are based in Canada use this form of writing. It seems as if it was made for the Canadian populace.

In the history of the Canadian Guide, it was made in the year 1986 and was christened ‘The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation when it was created thirty-three years ago. It was made in order to come up with a specific standard for writing legislature in Canada. Over time, this became the widely accepted and sometimes, even mandatory form of writing in the Canadian regions where law is concerned.

Over time, the Canadian Guide was dubbed ‘McGill’ because the first publication that used this format was released in the McGill law Journal the year it was created. Currently, the 9th edition of the book has been released. The book gives all the in-depth rules necessary to write a legal paper, book, argument or even material for parliament.

The bilingual book has one half in French and the second half written in the English language. The book is indeed widely used in Canada and it is widely respected as the main guide when a person wishes to make references in law. There are stories of it being adapted for use in foreign countries namely the United Kingdom and the United States. It has even started being used in these countries and elsewhere.

Three major areas form the main fields that underscore the McGill Guide and its direction with regards to writing law related papers.

These are:

  •  Footnotes
  •  In-text citations
  •  Bibliographies

For each of this features, there is a section in the guide talking about the correct format for them. The rules regarding writing with the McGill form of writing is not as stringent as with the Oxford form, however, since the documents being produced are legal documents, care is taken to ensure that at the end of the day, the legal documents can be used in any area and not taken out due to their lack of correct citing.

Correct McGill Guide rules

The rules regarding the use and citing of law related papers are not as many as many other writing styles and formats. However, what remains paramount is that each of the works produced under the McGill Guide is relevant and has been cited properly.

  • Footnotes

Just like in several other writing forms, inspirations gotten from other writers are numbered and explained in the footnotes. Matching numbers are given as a superscript in the line where the source was stated, then the footnote goes on to explain the source and the reference. In the footnote, there are Latin abbreviations that help writers to prevent writers from repeating sources several times.

Ibid: this abbreviation is used to mean ‘in the same area or place’. If you have the same source referenced twice in the same row, you might choose instead to use this abbreviation rather than rehashing the entire source, complete with dates.

Supra: This literally means ‘above’. If the full citation has been listed beforehand, the abbreviation can be given to the next citation that uses the same source.

Different Forms of the McGill Guide

  1.  Short form- This form gives students the leeway to give shorter forms of the sources stated, especially if the sources title is longer than three words. This is a good way to reduce the amount of time needed to state sources especially if there are several sources all pointing to one main reference.
  2.  Pinpoint- This requires proper and serious referencing and is used mainly in serious legal citations in Canada. This is used when evidence is being presented. It is not used to state the source of the reference. It is simply used to mark the page or the paragraph where the information can be found.

In the McGill type of writing, repetitions are frowned upon especially when the information has already been placed in the content. If you have mentioned it in the content, no need to repeat it as you go through the writing.

Special McGill Tips

  1.  Citations that are neutral are just placed right under the title of the case. It stands there with the year the verdict was reached, the number for the verdict and the court in which the verdict was reached. This was enforced in the year 2001 and during that time, all verdicts were made available using this main style.
  2.  When dealing with a case reporter, all the verdicts reached can be enveloped in one case report. The year the verdict was reached is put close by and it is the main way that all these verdicts are arranged and referenced.
  3.  Bibliographies are written using a specific format dictated by the Canada guide. It becomes a separate piece of writing and is then attached at the end of the paper. The bibliography is not limited to cited sources but can also include sources that are necessary for further research.

The McGill approach to writing legal documents has overtime proven to be the simplest and most clarified form of writing, which led to its wide acceptance when it was chosen in the year 1986. Its adaptation by several legal firms and even the entire nation of Canada makes it of legal backing. It can comfortably be followed and reproduced in the form of several other legal documents. The style is easy to master and therefore has gone one to becoming one of the best styles to write legal documents since the 1980s.

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