Your Complete Guide to Using the Bluebook Citation
The Bluebook citation is a guide specifically written for first-year JD, LLM, and SJD students preparing for legal practice. The Bluebook is in its 21st edition, released in June 2020, and is available in hard and soft copy formats. This Bluebook citation cheat sheet seeks to help you to write better legal materials and law assignments at colleges and universities. Keep reading this guide to learn more.
What Is Bluebook Citation?
The Bluebook book citation style is used in the US legal citation system. Lawyers, legal researchers, and law students should abide by its rules, which seems pretty challenging because of the large number of referencing rules for different resource types.
Its official title is The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, and the guide contains over 500 pages of legal citations. Thus, use your discretion to know what recommendations to follow and which ones can be skipped.
The book has two main sections:
This section has rules for legal documentation practitioners who compose legal documents, like court filings and memoranda.
This part contains regulations for writing academic publications, such as law journal articles.
Using Bluebook Citation
This section shows you how to use the Bluebook guide to cite different materials.
How to Cite Federal or State Cases Using Bluebook
Citing cases is common for all legal practitioners. The Bluebook case citation style has a format for citing federal or state cases. However, the precise format for citing a case depends on the case type, court, and jurisdiction. The basic citing formation remains as follows:
- For court documents (briefs, motions) and legal memoranda, always underscore or italicize the full name.
- In legal writing, like review articles, underline or italicize the case name.
Citing Statutes Using Bluebook
The Bluebook Citation statutes section has rules for citing legal statutes, for instance, when using it to create a Rome statute Bluebook citation. Like with cases, the exact citing format varies. However, its basic citation guidelines are as follows:
- Title numbers.
- The abbreviations of the codes used.
- The section symbols (§) are followed by spaces and the section numbers containing the statutes.
- The year of the codes. (not necessary when citing the current code).
Citing Other Resources
Below are rules and examples for other kinds of legal documentation many first-year law students may need to reference besides cases and statutes.
The book’s Rule 11 covers citing the US Constitution and state constitutions.
You must reference the US federal constitution by “U.S. Const.” and state constitutions by “[abbreviated state name] Const.”
U.S. Const. art. 1, § 9, cl. 9.
Tex. Const. art. 1, § 3.
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Bluebook Citation Examples
Learning from a perfect example is one of the best ways of advancing your referencing mastery. Here are some examples of Bluebook citation abbreviations and citing different materials.
- The US Supreme Court
David v. the City of New York, 465 P.3d 873 (Wash. 2019) (en banc). This ruling was made by the full court, as implied by the term en banc. Rule 10.6.1 states that we can but are not required to add details to the gravity of the opinion’s authority in a parenthetical after the date.
- Court of Appeals
Austin v. Wash. State Bar Ass’n, 67 P.3d 5678 (Wash. Ct. App. 2022)
- Citing the Holy Bible
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (King James). Please note that the Bible book is italicized (or may be underlined). Additionally, the Bible’s version is indicated in the parenthesis.
- Citing an Internet Source
The Bluebook citation website rules also require citing a website in a given format. Below is an example.
Jacob Joseph Posner, Ten Steps to Productive Living, The Good Life Network (March. 25,
2022, 11:11 AM), https://www/thegoodlife.com/articles/858595095.html.
The author’s name, followed by the title of the particular website page (underlined or italicized), followed by the title of the site’s main page, the date and the last time the website was updated, and the URL (remove the hyperlink, blue font, and the URL’s underlining).
- Case Name
Case names usually contain excessive information. Below are the two rules to follow, plus examples.
1. Omit all parties except the first listed on each side of the “v.”
Kim Yong Jones & Co. v. Patel, Ltd.
This variant is more concise and correct in line with the Blubook guidance than the full version of the case name: Kim Yong & Company, Inc., Plaintiff, v. Patel, Limited and Abdul Fazul Mohamed, Defendants
2. For names of individuals, use their last names only, and omit everything else
David v. Goliath
It’s more correct than the full version: Jesse A. David v. Achish Z. Goliath and Zeeb D. Haman
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Making Things Easier Using a Bluebook Citation Generator
If you need help citing legal documents in the Bluebook format, a wise decision may be to use a Bluebook citation machine to kick-start you. Below are three easy steps to using a Bluebook website citation generator.
- Paste your text in the field, ensuring it references U.S. Federal, State, or Case law.
- Next, click the “Extract Links” button, and the Bluebook citation maker will list links to credible U.S. law materials.
- Lastly, check the search results list and click on the links to navigate to the external legal resource.
Using a legal Bluebook citation generator has pros and cons. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of using this tool for your legal referencing.
Here are the pros of using a Bluebook citation checker.
- A citation machine Bluebook eliminates human error by creating citations that abide by this citation style.
- You enjoy consistent and accurate citations with an automated Bluebook legal citation generator.
- It’s easy and fast to use.
- It helps researchers learn how to format citations correctly.
All human machines make mistakes because they depend on algorithms that aren’t always 100% accurate.
- You could select the wrong information source.
- Chances of misplaced or incorrect punctuation are high.
- You run into the risk of wrong capitalization or omission of information.
We hope this guide provided the necessary information for correctly using the Bluebook citation format. Study the guide inside out to sharpen your proficiency in legal resource referencing, or find an efficient automated tool to simplify this task for yourself.
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