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Bluebook Citation: Foreign Materials

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

What are "Foreign Materials"?

Foreign materials encompass laws applying solely within the boundaries of sovereign states, excluding the United States (the Bluebook being US Centric). While the rest of this guide is broken up by type of material cited, in this section you will find descriptions of the myriad rules related to citing material from counties other than the United States, including jurisdiction, transliteration, and abbreviations.

Table 2 will be invaluable as you navigate the citation of foreign materials according to Bluebook rules.


Please note that these are select examples, and the Bluebook should be consulted to ensure a citation is correct. 

Common Law Case examples (Rule 20.3.1): 

R. v. Lockwood (1782) 99 Eng. Rep. 379 (KB).

Chase v. Campbell, [1962] S.C.R. 425 (Can.)

Bachlan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684, 751 (per Bhagwati, I., dissenting) (India).

Civil Law and Other Non-Common Law Case example (Rule 20.3.2): 

Bundesgerichtshof [BHG] [Federal Court of Justice] Apr. 7, 2003,154 Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Zivilsachen [BGHZ] 53 (126) (Ger.). 

China Nat’l Technical Imp./Exp. Corp. v. Indus. Res. Co., China L. & Prac., Aug. 22, 1988, at 26 (Shanghai Interm. People’s Ct. May 11, 1988).

Constitution examples (Rule 20.4):

Bundesverfassung [BV] [Constitution] Apr. 18, 1999, SR 101, art. 29 (Switz.).

Xianfa art. 35, § 1 (1982) (China).

Statutes in Common Law Systems, examples (Rule 20.5.1):

Extradition Law, 5714-1954, 8 LSI 144, (1953-1954) (Isr.).

Emergency Powers Act, 1976 (Act No. 33/1976) (Ir.).

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, §6(2)(a) (India).

Statutes in Civil Law and Other Non-Common Law Jurisdictions examples (Rule 20.5.2):

Code Civil [C. civ] [Civil Code] art. 1112 (Fr.).

Minpō [Minpō] [Civ. C] art. 398-20, para. 1, no. 1 (Japan).

Non-English-Language Documents - Rule 20.2

Broadly, according to Rule 20.2.1:

  • "always cite the most official or authoritative version of the document," which should be included within the document itself
  • Use the English version if it is as authoritative as the non-English version
  • If the document does not make clear which version is more authoritative, use the English version.

Titles and Names of Documents in Languages Other than English, Rule 20.2.2:

  • "Always give the document's full title or name in the original language the first time the document is cited," and include if desired, in brackets, the English title in the same type face (Rule 20.2.2(a)). 
  • Capitalize according to Rule 8, and retain capitalization from the document (Rule 20.2.2(b)). 

Abbreviations in Languages Other than English, Rule 20.2.3:

  • "a full form should be given the first time the [non-English] source is cited, and the abbreviation should be given in brackets. Thereafter...without cross-reference."

Languages That Do Not Use the Roman Alphabet, Rule 20.2.4:

  • Always transliterate any term not using the Roman alphabet, in a standard transliteration system such as the ALA-LC Romanization tables.
  • Please see Rule 20.2.4(b) for particulars when citing resources containing Chinese, and Table T2 for all other languages. 

Short Citation Forms - Rule 20.7

In general, short form citations for foreign materials are consistent with non-foreign materials. Note, however:

  • Only "Id." is an acceptable short form for constitutions.
  • Always make sure "to uniquely identify the original source," when crafting a short form citation, (Rule 20.7(c)).

Jurisdiction - Rule 20.1

Jurisdiction is included "at the end of the citation but before any parallel citations," and should utilize abbreviations in Table 10. "Jurisdiction should be applied as necessary to all foreign materials, be they cases, statues, constitutions, or any other format, unless jurisdiction is clear from the context" in which case it may be omitted. 

Citations to Translations of Non-English Language Documents - Rule 20.2.5

Cite to a translation if an original source is "not widely available to researchers in the United States." However, first cite the original source and create a parallel citation to its translation. For example:

  • Ley Federal de Derechos de Autor (LFDA), Diario Oficial de la Federación [DOF] 21-12-1963 (Mex.), translated in Copyright Laws and Treaties of the World 521 (U.N. Educ., Sci. & Cultural Org. et al. eds., 1992).

Non-English-Language and Foreign Periodicals - Rule 20.6

Periodicals should be cited by combining rules on Foreign Materials (Rule 20) and Periodical Materials (Rule 16):

  • Author, Title in Original Language [Translated or shortened name in English], Volume # of Periodical Full Name of Periodical [Official abbreviation of periodical] page numbers (Year) (Country.).


  • Benjamin Taibleson & Rebecca Krauss, Embracing Convergence: Forty Countries in Comparative Perspective106 Rev. Trim. Dr. Civ. 119 (2007) (Fr.).

Still Stumped?

The Bluebook describes the components of citations, but sometimes it is more useful to see specific examples from the country in question. Please use Table T2, which includes examples from 44 different countries or states. If you still cannot find an example to meet your needs, try the following resources: 

Don't hesitate to reach out to library staff with any remaining questions!