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Bluebook Introduction: Basic Layout

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Abbreviations generally Admin. Arbitrations Constitutions Legislative History Signals

Abbrev.: Arbitral Reporters

Admin. Regulations Court Filings/Briefs Manuscripts Social Media

Abbrev.: Case Names

Admin. Rules Dissertations Memos Speeches
Abbrev.: Common Words in Periodical Titles Bills eBooks Model Codes Statutes generally
Abbrev.: Court Names Black's Law Dictionary Electronic Periodicals Newspapers Statutes: Dates
Abbrev.: Explanatory Phrases Blogs Email Numbers Statutes: Short Form
Abbrev.: Foreign Jurisdictions Books: Authors Films Order of Authorities Statutory Codes
Abbrev.: Geographical Terms Books: Date Foreign Materials Ordinances Supra
Abbrev.: Institutional Authors Books: Edition Foreign Words Page Numbers The Bluebook
Abbrev.: Institutions in Periodical Titles Books: Titles Hereinafter Parentheticals Titles
Abbrev.: Intergovernmental Orgs Capitalization Id Periodicals TV Programs  
Abbrev.: Judges & Officials Cases generally Index Periodicals: Short Form Typeface Conventions: Citations  
Abbrev.: Legislative Docs Cases: Court International Materials Quotes: 50+ Words Typeface Conventions: Text
Abbrev.: Months Cases: Date Internet Short Form Quotes: Omissions Quotes: Alterations
Abbrev.: Publishing Terms Cases: Jurisdiction Internet Sources Regulations Uniform Acts
Abbrev.: Services Cases: Parentheticals Internal Cross References Reporters Unpublished Sources
Abbrev.: Subdivisions Cases: Short Form Interviews Restatements
Abbrev.: Treaty Sources Committee Reports Journals Sections
Abbrev.: U.S. Jurisdictions Congressional Debates Judges Services
Admin. Adjudications Congressional Hearings Session Laws

PART 1: Blue Pages

The Bluebook (pp. 3-60) is printed on blue paper and is called "The Bluepages," which are:

"a how-to guide for basic legal citation. Unlike the remainder of The Bluebook, which is designed in a style and at a level of complexity commensurate with the needs of the law journal publication process, the Bluepages provide easy-to-comprehend guidance for the everyday citation needs of law students, summer associates, law clerks, practicing lawyers, and other legal professionals."

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation 1 (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds., 21th ed. 1st prtg. 2020).

Part 2: White Pages (The Meat of The Bluebook)

Main part of The Bluebook, with the complex and detailed rules of citation & style.

Rules 1-9 contain general citation & formatting rules.

Rules 10-21 contain citation & formatting rules for specific types of materials (e.g. cases, statutes, international materials & etc.).

Part 2A: General Standards of Citation & Style

Rules 1-9 "establishes general standards of citation and style" (The Bluebook: A uniform System of Citation 1 (Columbia L. Rev. Ass'n et al. eds., 21st ed. 2020).

Major things contained in these general rules include: 

Rule # Commonly-Used Portions of the Rule Where to Find The Rule
Rule 1. Structure and Use of Citations

Signals: You use signals to connect & distinguish citations from each other & from your textual material


Pp. 62-64

Order of authorities within each signal: Rules about what types of authorities are listed before others in a citation string


P. 65

Parentheticals: Giving the rules about how to use parentheticals in citations to explain something about the source you're citing


Pp. 65-66

Rule 2. Typefaces for Law Reviews

Typeface conventions for citations: When cited, different sources (e.g. cases, statutes, books & etc.) have different typeface rules


Pp. 69-70

Typeface conventions for textual material: When referring to a source within the text of your writing, the typeface rules are simpler than in a citation


Pp. 70-72

Rule 3. Subdivisions Page numbers: The Bluebook requires you to cite to specific pages of the materials you're citing, often offsetting your page from the rest of the citation with the word "at"


Pp. 73-76

Sections: When it's appropriate, use the "§" for materials that aren't separated by page numbers (e.g. statutes)


Pp. 76-77

Internal cross-references: To refer to other portions of your text within the writing itself use supra  (for material appearing later) and infra (for material appearing earlier)


Pp. 78-79

Rule 4. Short Citation Forms

Id.: Use when citing to the same source that you've cited in the sentence/footnote directly preceding your current sentence/footnote


Pp. 79-81

Supra: Some types of sources (non-primary sources) need only be fully-cited once and can later be referred back to using supra


Pp. 81-82

Hereinafter: Used to shorten the formal title of a book or article to make it easier to short cite directly to it in subsequent citations


P. 82

Rule 5. Quotation Formatting Block quotations of fifty words or more: Provides direction on formatting your longer quotations in the text & in footnotes


Pp. 83-84

Alterations of quotations: Changing the formatting of an original quotation so that it fits grammatically & contextually in your writing


Pp. 84-86

Omissions: Leaving out a word or sentence from a quote using an ellipsis (. . .)


Pp. 86-87

Rule 6. Abbreviations, Numerals, and Symbols Abbreviations: Refers you to all of the Tables (located at the back of The Bluebook) containing the proper abbreviations for dates, geographical locations, sources & etc.


Pp. 87-89

Numbers and symbols: Provides direction on when to use a number or symbol and when to spell the word out (9 vs. nine).


Pp. 89-90

Rule 7. Italicization for Style & Unique Instances Foreign words and phrases: Some foreign words should be italicized while others should not


Pp. 90-91

Rule 8. Capitalization Special rules for what words should and should not be capitalized in legal writing


Pp. 91-94

Rule 9. Titles of Judges, Officials, and Terms of Court Special rules for how to refer to judges and terms of court in text and citations


Pp. 94-95

Part 2B: Rules for Specific Kinds of Authority

Rule # Commonly-Used Portions of the Rule Where to Find the Rule
Rule 10. Cases Case name in textual sentence vs. in citations: In these situation, the typeface is different


Pp. 96-97

General case name rules: How many parties to list, procedural phrases, proper abbreviations, omitting "the," geographic terms & business firm designations


Pp. 97-102

Reporters and parallel citations: The same case often appears in more than one official source (aka, a case reporter). This rule tells you which reporter is preferable


P. 104

Court and jurisdiction: How to insert the proper abbreviated name of the court and state/circuit into a case citation


Pp. 105-107

Date: Rules differ depending on how/whether the case was published


P. 107

Case parentheticals: Adds additional information to Rule 1.5 (see above) that is specific to parentheticals in case citations


Pp. 108-109

Briefs, court filings, and transcripts: Materials associated with a case but are not judicial opinions themselves


Pp. 114-116

Short forms for cases: Adds additional information to Rule 4 (see above) that is specific to short forms of case citations


Pp. 116-118

Rule 11. Constitutions Special rules for citing to state, federal, foreign constitutions and their amendments


Pp. 119-120

Rule 12. Statutes Statutes currently in force vs. no longer in force: The rules are different if the statute one cites to is no longer in force


Pp. 121-122

Official vs. unofficial codes: The federal and state governments all have an "official" version of their code that The Bluebook requires you to cite to. Some official versions are printed by the government itself; some by commercial publishers. Unofficial versions are printed by commercial publishers


Pp. 123-124

Year of the code: Rules about citing to the most current printing of the official code


P. 125

Session laws: Statutes as they're printed and arranged chronologically in the order that they were passed by legislative session and before they are organized by subject in a statutory code


Pp. 125-127

Ordinances: Local government "legislation"


P. 130

Model codes, principles, restatements, standard sentencing guidelines, and uniform acts: Cited like statutes even though not technically primary law like statutes



Short forms for statutes: Adds additional information to Rule 4 (see above) that is specific to short forms of statute citations


Pp. 133-134

Rule 13. Legislative Materials Bills and Resolutions: How to cite to legislation before it is passed by Congress and signed by the President or Governor


Pp. 136-137

Hearings: Citing legislative history in official legislative/public discussion on a topic or bill


Pp. 137-138

Reports, documents, committee prints: Other legislative history materials put out by legislators in the process of getting a bill passed through Congress


Pp. 138-139

Debates: Officially printed records of discussions of the members of a congressional body


P. 140

Short forms for legislative materials: Adds additional information to Rule 4 (see above) that is specific to short forms of citations to legislative materials


Pp. 141-142

Rule 14. Administrative and Executive Materials Rules & regulations: Official primary documents from administrative bodies that generally apply to everyone in the affected area (like statutes)


Pp. 142-144

Administrative adjudications and arbitrations: Official primary decisions from administrative bodies that typically apply only to the parties in the matter at hand (like cases)


Pp. 144-146

Short forms for regulations: Adds additional information to Rule 4 (see above) that is specific to short forms of citations to administrative materials


Pp. 146-147

Rule 15. Books, Reports, and Other Nonperiodic Materials  Authors: Can be individuals, groups, or institutional (names of which will be abbreviated)


Pp. 147-149

Title: Following capitalization rules from Rule 8 (above)


P. 150

Edition, publisher, date: Unlike most other writing style formats, legal writing citations do not generally need the publisher but should generally include the year and the edition


Pp. 150-151

Special citation forms: Some frequently-used legal books (e.g., Black's Law Dictionary, The Bible, The Bluebook) have special citation formats


Pp. 153-154

Electronic media and online sources: Citation rules for these materials in addition to those in Rule 18


Pp. 154-155

Rule 16. Periodical Materials Consecutively paginated journals: Where multiple issues in the same year are part of the same page numbering scheme (e.g., volume 12, issue 1 is pp. 1-302; volume 12, issue 2 is pp. 303-586)


P. 160

Nonconsecutively paginated journals: Like traditional magazines, where each issue starts back a page 1


Pp. 160-161

Newspapers: Special rules for citing information in print and online newspapers


Pp. 161-162

Electronic media and online sources: Citation to periodical materials online/in a database in addition to the rules in Rule 18 (below)


P. 167

Short citation forms: Adds additional information to Rule 4 (see above) that is specific to short forms of citations to periodical materials


Pp. 167-169

Rule 17. Unpublished and Forthcoming Sources Manuscripts, dissertations, letters, memos, press releases, emails, interviews, speeches, forthcoming works, working papers in print and electronic form, along with rules for short citation to them


Pp. 169-174

Rule 18. The Internet, Electronic Media, and Other Nonprint Resources When you should be citing to a resource available on the Internet (instead of print): Rules for the particular situations where it's appropriate to cite to a resource on the Internet


Pp. 176-177

How to cite to Internet sources: Rules for author, titles, main page titles, blogs, social media, URLs, and databases


Pp. 177-182

Films, broadcasts, audio recordings: Movies, TV programs, radio, podcasts


Pp. 183-184

Short citation forms: Adds additional information to Rule 4 (see above) that is specific to short forms of citations to Internet/electronic/nonprint resources


Pp. 184-185

Rule 19. Services Applies to primary and secondary materials that are published/republished within a topical compilation called a "service" (often looseleafs, sometimes bound volumes or their electronic database equivalents).


Pp. 186-188

Rule 20. Foreign Materials How to cite to both primary and secondary sources from another country


Pp. 188-194

Rule 21. International Materials How to cite to both primary and secondary sources relating to the law/agreements among and between nations and international organizations.


Pp. 195-210

Part 3: Tables

The Tables give information about specific topics that should be used along with The Bluebook's rules. Here is the purpose of each of the tables:

Explanation of Major Provisions Page Range
T1. United States Jurisdictions Abbreviations & citation conventions unique to the federal government & each state. Includes information about how to cite to both official & unofficial reporters, statutory codes, session laws & administrative compilations Pp. 227-298
T2. Foreign Jurisdictions Abbreviations & citation conventions unique to many nations Online 
T3. Intergovernmental Organizations Abbreviations and citation conventions for intergovernmental bodies: United Nations, League of Nations, European Union, European Commission of Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, & abbreviations for a number of additional intergovernmental organizations Pp. 299-302
T4. Treaty Sources Official & unofficial sources where treaties are published Pp. 302-303
T5. Arbitral Reporters Publications where arbitral decisions are published P. 303
T6. Case Names, Institutional Authors, and Periodical Titles Abbreviations for common words in case names and institutional author titles. Combined with the abbreviations in T13, Institutions, to create the proper citation format for a periodical titlePerhaps the most-used pages of The Bluebook for a legal writer Pp. 304-307
T7. Court Names Common court name abbreviations Pp. 307-310
T8. Explanatory Phrases List of explanatory phrases commonly used to demonstrate the prior or subsequent history of a case P. 310
T9. Legislative Documents List of abbreviations for words commonly used in the titles of legislative documents P. 311
T10. Geographical Terms Abbreviations for countries, states, Canadian provinces, regions, cities, and territories Pp. 312-318
T11. Judges and Officials Abbreviations for the titles of judges & other officials P. 319
T12. Months Month abbreviations P. 319
T13. Institutional Names in Periodicals Abbreviations for organizations & law school names which, when combined with the abbreviations from T6 & T10, one can have at their disposal Common Words used to create abbreviated journal titles

Pp. 320-322

T14. Publishing Terms Abbreviations for common terms used in publishing P. 323
T15. Services Used in conjunction with the citation rules from Rule 19 (above), this table gives you abbreviated titles for the proper citation of a number of common services Pp. 323-327
T16. Subdivisions Abbreviations for names of document subdivisions that are used frequently in legal citation Pp. 327-328
Index Much more thorough list than this one of all of the topics covered in The Bluebook Pp. 329-365
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