Your Guide on Bluebook Citation: All That You Need to Know

Table of Contents

Understanding What Is a Bluebook Citation

For a long time, the Bluebook has been the ultimate source of guidance regarding legal Citation in the United States, with law students, attorneys, academics, judges, and other legal professionals relying on its distinctive citation system.

The development of the Bluebook, from its first publication in 1925, as an eight-page booklet for Harvard Law, to its present status as a three-volume manual used by most law schools of the country, has been well documented in detail. The Bluebook has been accepted and critiqued, but it's now much better with the Bluebook uniform system of citation edition 20th.

The primary goal of a legal citation is to enable the reader to quickly find the cited source. For this reason, the citations in The Bluebook are structured to provide the essential data to take the reader straight to the specified items cited.

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Where Is the BlueBook Used: Application

This set of citation rules applies to students of law, judges, attorneys, police, and politicians and is based on the law. The Bluebook can be used to refer to passages in legal writing, including sources of officials, judges, lawyers, authorities, and news reports on governmental affairs. As such, learning to write under Bluebook legal citation is necessary for university dissertations and documents created by professionals.

When borrowing from the words of another, it is essential to acknowledge the source with quotation marks and a reference. Doing so grants both you and the creator of the work the appropriate credit.

Citing sources and providing quotes indicate the research that has been completed and the reading level that has been conducted. Furthermore, they enable others to trace your work and build on it.

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What Elements Make Up the Legal BlueBook?

Before going to law school, you need to know that the Legal Bluebook is an all-encompassing resource for legal authorities striving for precise and uniform citations in their legal documents. It is composed of the following:

Elements That Make Up the Legal BlueBook
Introduction Summarizes the Legal Bluebook's purpose.
Citation Principles Presents fundamental citation rules.
Typefaces Specifies font styles and sizes for legal documents.
Case Citation Guides citing legal cases, including titles and abbreviations.
Statutes, Rules, and Other Materials Instructs on quoting legal texts.
Secondary Sources Directs citing books, periodicals, and treatises.
Quotations and Quotation Marks Advises on integrating quotes.
Parentheticals Guides adding supplementary remarks.
Pinpoint Citations Instructs citing specific pages or subsections.
Signals Advises on using signals like 'see' or 'cf.'
Authorities Instructs on using 'supra' or 'infra' indicators.
Capitalization Advises on capitalizing court names and titles.
Abbreviations Gives guidance on abbreviating legal terms.
Subdivisions Instructs on incorporating divisions into legal papers.
Foreign Materials Guides citing foreign legal sources.
Citation Forms Demonstrates referencing various legal sources

Understanding Bibliography

A Bluebook bibliography must feature an alphabetically organized list of all sources referred to in a legal document, ordered by the author's surname or, in the absence of an author, by the initial word of the title. Every entry should comprise the following:

  1. Author: It is essential to include the author's name exactly as specified in the source. If there are multiple authors, they should be listed in the same order as they appear in the source.
  2. Title: The source title should follow sentence case formatting, with the initial word and any proper nouns capitalized and italicized.
  3. Publication Information: This comprises the author's name, the place of publication, and the date of publishing. For journals and magazines, the volume and issue numbers should be appended.
  4. Page numbers: If relevant, specify the page numbers from which the details were sourced.

Here's what a Bluebook bibliography entry for a book looks like:

  • Fisher, Spencer. Legal Writing for Dummies. Chicago: Dolphin Press, 2023.

And here's an example of a legal review article:

  • Smith, Jane. "The Impact of Social Media on Jury Selection." Harvard Law Review 133, no. 4 (2021): 567-598.

Understanding Footnotes

Bluebook footnotes contain more detailed information regarding the sources mentioned in a legal document.  Bluebook footnote citations are used to:

  • Cite a source
  • Include the author(s), title, publisher, year of publication
  • Pinpoint citation (page numbers or section numbers). 

These footnotes are generally located at the bottom of the page with the source.

For example, the Citation in the Bluebook Footnote could look like the following:

  • Spencer Fisher, Legal Writing for Dummies (Chicago Dolphin Press, 2023.) 15-17.

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Bluebook Citation Examples

Understanding the different approaches when drafting a proper reference document is important. To grasp these differences better, we need to refer to Bluebook citation examples and recognize these distinctions before we write a law paper. As an example, a court case and a tabloid are different. Let's delve into more specific examples below, prepared by our admission essay writer:

Bluebook Citation
Bluebook Citation

To Sum Up

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Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

What was changed:
  • Made a table for What Elements Make Up the Legal BlueBook?
  • Made a table for Understanding Bibliography
  • Added some fresh info in bullet points for Footnotes
  • Added a pdf sample
  • Added FAQ section

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