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Bluebook Citation: Cases

This guide provides the basics for first year memorandums and upper class papers and journals.

Date or Year - Rule 10.5

If a case is published in a reporter, use the calendar year given for the decision (Rule 10.5(a)).

For cases not yet published or forthcoming, like Slip Opinions, give the exact date (Rule 10.5(b)).

Court and Jurisdiction - Rule 10.4

Rule 10.4 - within the parenthetical after the page and/or pinpoint cite(s) but before the date, you may have to add a court name abbreviation. When? When it is not clear from the reporter citation from which court your opinion was issued from.

E.g. 34 Mass. 324 (1988) - it is obvious from the citation that only cases form the SJC of Massachusetts are reported in the Massachusetts Reports.

E.g. 34 F. Supp. 334 (D. Mass. 2001) - someone looking at this citation would not know that the case came from the Federal District of Massachusetts without the indication in the parenthetical.

Which abbreviations? For the court abbreviations, see Table 7, for American geographical terms, see Table 10.1.

Volume & Page Number(s)

Please see the  page numbering section on the "Common Building Block Rules" page. The rules on page numbers are in the early sections of the Bluebook  (Rule 3.2) and apply to everything.

For Volume number (Rule 3.1) -  it may seem obvious, but this is the volume of the reporter in which your opinion is located/printed.

Examples - Rule 10 & Bluepages Rules B4


Party Name v. Party Name, Volume Source [reporter] Page Number, Pinpoint Cite [if relevant] (court [if required] year).



Boston Elevated Railway Company & Maine Boston Railway Company v. John F. Malley, formerly an internal revenue collector, 288 Federal Reporter Second edition 864, 864 (federal district of Massachusetts 1923).


Boston Elevated Ry. Co. v. John F. Malley, 288 F.2d 864, 864 (D. Mass. 1923). [for law reviews]

Boston Elevated Ry. Co. v. John F. Malley, 288 F.2d 864, 864 (D. Mass. 1923). [for court documents and memoranda]


Note: case name abbreviations and omissions; abbreviation of reporter name and edition; pinpoint cite, even if it is on the first page; court inclusion and abbreviation and year.

Case Name(s) - Rule 10.2 & Bluepages Rule B4

For case name abbreviations see Rules 10.2.1 and 10.2.2. Note that textual sentences require different typeface conventions, AND textual sentences need only get abbreviated according to Rule 10.2.1 only.

Always keep the first word in full in each party name designation and omit all other parties but the first listed (Rule 10.2.1). The remainder of Rule 10.2 deals with all the permutations about which names to keep and which ones to abbreviate. Below are some ones to keep an eye on.


  • All relator terms but the first - Major-domo of Paris not Major-domo and count of Paris (Rule10.2.1(a)).
  • All terms indicating multiple parties or alternative names - et al or d/b/a (Rule 10.2.1(a)).
  • Commonwealth of, or People of, unless citing decisions of the court in which you are filing the brief, and then only Commonwealth or People (Rule 10.2.1(f)).


  • Abbreviate per Rule 10.2.1(c). As noted above, for non-textual sentences, abbreviate further according to Rule 10.2.2 and Table 6.


A reporter is where a case opinion is published, often by jurisdiction or topic. Consult Table 1 to determine which reporter to cite to (why? Because cases are often printed/reported in multiple reporters). Rules 10.3.1 & 10.3.2. Beware, if you litigating in state courts, they often have their own preference as to which reporter to cite too (See Table 1.3). Check local court rules. Some states require citation using public domain format - See rule 10.3.3.

Common reporters and their abbreviations below.

Reporter Abbreviation
Atlantic A.
North Eastern N.E.
North Western N.W.
Pacific P.
Southern So.
South Eastern S.E.
South Western S.W.


Reporter Abbreviation
Federal Reporter (federal appeals) F.
Federal Supplement (federal district courts) F. Supp.
United States Reports U.S.
Supreme Court Reporter S. Ct.
United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition L. Ed.