Skip to Main Content

Bluebook 101

This guide will serve as a general introduction to the Bluebook. It is tailored to students seeking to cite-on or write-on to one of CU's law reviews or journals.

What do they mean?

An introductory signal is a concise way of alerting the reader to the meaning of the citation that follows.  Note: No signal means you are citing something that directly supports your text (like a quote).

Positive Signals (the authority helps you)

  • E.g. = "I'm citing one or two sources but there are a bunch I could cite."  (Latin for "Exempli gratia," or "for example")
  • Accord = "I just cited something that supports my proposition, and now here's another thing that supports it too." (Use when citing another jurisdiction)
  • See = "I'm citing something that clearly supports what I just said."  (Just a hair less direct than no signal)
  • See also = "I have already cited something that directly supports my proposition, and I want to add more."  (Use a parenthetical to explain the source's relevance). 
  • See generally = "I am giving you background material."  (Use a parenthetical)
  • Cf. (Latin for "confer," which we translate as compare) "I'm citing authority that doesn't exactly support what I just said, but it's close enough to lend support." (Use an explanatory parenthetical)

Negative Signals (the authority hurts you)

  • Contra = "I know that this source is on the other side of what I just said." 
  • But see = "I know this authority clearly does not support my proposition." 
  • But cf. = "I know these authorities hold differently."


Source: Gallagher Law Library, Oct. 2017, 



Rules 1.2, 1.3, & 1.4

Rule 1.2 explains the use of Introductory Signals

Rule. 1.3 describes the order of signals (when you use more than one signal, which order do they go in?)

Rule 1.4 dictates the order of authorities within each signal

  • use logic by putting most helpful or authoritative first and
  • separate authorities by semicolons   ;
Follow William A. Wise Law Library on:   Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     RSS