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Bluebook Citation: Outline

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


The Bluebook (Twenty-First Edition) is a uniform system of citation. What does this mean?

Legal argument and writing is based on precedent. As such, every thought, sentence and idea must refer to a legal underpinning - be it case law, statute, regulation, book, law review etc. To enable a reader to precisely locate these legal documents, a uniform citation style is required. Over time the Bluebook has become the standard legal citation style (there are others).

Courts, law reviews and other printed legal materials generally employ the bluebook, or a slightly altered version.

For example, see Massachusetts Style Guide for the SJC.

Where are changes to the rules listed?

The preface of each edition of the Blueboook includes a list of changes and additions since the previous edition.  

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

  1. Layout
  2. Common Building Block Rules
  3. Bluepages v. Whitepages
  4. Tables
  5. Statutes
  6. Cases
  7. Regulations & Adminstrative Opinions
  8. Law Reviews/Articles & Other Non-Book Publications
  9. Books
  10. Electronic Resources
  11. International Materials



Areas not covered include Unpublished and Forthcoming Sources (Rule 17). 

Keep in mind, if you are on co-op in a foreign jurisdiction, they may have their own citation format (i.e. don't use Bluebook's rules on citing foreign materials in American publications). For example, the United Kingdom uses the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities.

The Bluebook (Twenty-First Edition) and books on the Bluebook

Along with the bluebook (first entry below), there are some books and guides on how to use the bluebook. Their helpfulness varies, with more citation examples the best element. There is no real substitute for reading the bluebook.

Site Notes

I will be updating and changing this page as I add more content, examples, and in reaction to questions.There are some areas I do not cover.This is a guide and the Bluebook itself is the final source.

Any mistakes or suggestions, please free to e-mail me -