Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Legal Research

Secondary Sources

SECONDARY legal materials are preliminary research tools that will assist you in finding, evaluating, and understanding primary materials such as statutes and case law. 

Encyclopaedias / Digests

Canadian Abridgment
A comprehensive collection of case digests, or summaries, of Canadian case law that is organized by legal issue according to a single taxonomy (The Canadian Abridgment Key Classification System). This collection covers virtually every case reported in Canada since 1803, and every reported or unreported case received from the courts since 1986, with the exception of Quebec civil law cases.

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest or CED
A comprehensive statement of Ontario and Western law - provincial, federal and common law as derived from legislation and case law.

Halsbury's Laws of Canada
This publication contains clearly written statements of Canadian legal principle based on common law and legislation, and indicates where the law differs as between jurisdictions.

Treatises (Books)

  • Treatise is applied to both general textbooks on a legal subject and to monographs dealing with more specialized topics.
  • Treatises/Books provide an overview of a topic, summarize the leading cases and key statutes and provide citations to the most relevant cases and legislation.
  • Martin's Annual Criminal Code available in LawSource 

Legal journals

  • Legal journal articles tend to take a more analytic and critical approach and to deal with new issues and emerging areas of law.
  • Legal journal articles are usually written by experts in their field and often refer to relevant case law or legislation in the text or footnotes.

Dictionaries, Words and Phrases




  • Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, McGill Guide, is the most important Canadian citation manual. It is a guide for citing all legal materials.  This includes, statutes, cases, encyclopedias and treatises.
  • Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations (Electronic) provides meanings of abbreviations for legal publications from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Covers mainly law reports and law periodicals, but some legislative publications and major books are included.