The rules of construction for citations are the same as those that apply to the construction of patent specifications. These are outlined in 18.104.22.168 Features of a Claim prima facie Essential and 22.214.171.124 Rules of Construction.
Examiners must determine the teaching of a citation by reading and interpreting the document as though they are the skilled addressee, using the common general knowledge in the art at the date of publication. Thus, examiners must endeavour to stand in the shoes of the addressee.
The citation should be construed "not as a matter of abstract uninformed construction", but by making "a common-sense assessment" of what it would convey to the skilled reader in the context of the then-existing published knowledge (Populin v HB Nominees Pty Ltd (1982) 41 ALR 471). Thus, the citation should be given a purposive construction:
"A patent specification should be given a purposive construction rather than a purely literal one derived from applying to it the kind of meticulous verbal analysis in which lawyers are too often tempted by their training to indulge."
See Catnic Components Ltd v Hill and Smith Ltd (1982) RPC 183 at page 243.