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Bluebook Legal Citation

A guide to legal citation using Bluebook rules.

Book Example

Clicking on an orange bracketed and labeled selection below will take you to the portion of this guide discussing the appropriate citation format and bluebook rules.

Author Rules Title Rules Pincite Rules Publisher, Edition, and Year Rules

Author Rules

Bluebook Rule (21st): 15.1

Law Review Typeface: Smallcaps

Personal Authors

Author names should be included in full just as they appear in the original publication.  Include such designations as "Jr." or "III" but not titles such as "Dr.," even if included in the original work.  Offset "Jr." or "III" with a comma only if that is how it appears in the original. 

Philip D. O'Neill, Jr., Verification in an Age of Insecurity: The Future of Arms Control Compliance (2010).

If a cited work has two authors, include both names in the same order as they appear in the original separated by an ampersand.

Neal Feigenson & Christina Spiesel, Law on Display: The Digital Transformation of Legal Persuasion and Judgment (2010).

For more than two authors, provide the first name followed by "et al."

Russell L. Weaver, et al., Inside Constitutional Law: What Matters and Why (2009).

NOTE: If there is particular relevance in listing all author names, list them in them in the order they appear in the original source, separated by commas except for the final name, which is separated only by an ampersand without a comma.

Institutional Authors

If the author of a work is an institution, provide the complete name. 

4 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, The American Law of Mining 98 (2d ed. 1984).

NOTE: In some circumstances, a particular individual within an institution will be given authorial credit.  If this is the case, provide the individual's name, followed by the institutional name separated by a comma.

Consult rule 15.1(d) for guidance on the proper abbreviation of institutional author names.

NOTE: Use the abbreviation "U.S." when "United States" is part of an institutional name.  This differs from the rule prohibiting the abbreviation of United States as part of a case name, discussed here in this guide.

Editors and Translators

The full name of any editors and translators is included in a parenthetical.  Consult rule 15.2 for further guidance.

Title Rules

Bluebook Rule (21st): 15.3

Law Review Typeface: Smallcaps

Provide the title of a work as it appears on the title page, but follow the capitalization rules of Bluebook rule 8.

In general, this rule requires that all words be capitalized except:

  1. articles ("the", "a", etc.)
  2. conjunctions
  3. prepositions which are four or fewer letters in length.

While they should not be capitalized, articles should always be included in the title, and no words should be abbreviated. Always capitalize both the first word of a title and the first word following a colon.

Julius G. Getman, Restoring the Power of Unions: It Takes a Movement (2010).

Jacqueline Stevens, States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals (2010).

Sanford Levinson, Wrestling with Diversity (2003).

Roger K. Newman, Hugo Black: A Biography (1994).

Publisher, Edition, & Year Rules

Bluebook Rule (21st): 15.4

When you are citing a work that only has one edition, use the year of publication in the parentheses.

Example: Daniel C.K. Chow & Edward lee, International Intellectual Property: Problems, Cases, and Materials (2006).

When you are citing to a work that has been published by the same publisher more than once, you should cite the edition and the year it was published in the parentheses.

Example: Lawrence Lessig, Code: Version 2.0 (2nd ed. 2006). 

If the edition is from a different publisher than the original, you should note the publisher.

Example: John C.H. Wu, The Golden Age of Zen (Image Books 1996) (1975).

Short Form Rules

Bluebook Rule (21st): 15.10

Law Review Typeface: Smallcaps for author names; italics for "Id." and "supra."

A book, report, treatise, or other non-periodic material may be cited in short-form after it has been cited in full.

Use of both "Id." and "supra" is appropriate for this type of authority:

  1. Sanford Levinson, Wrestling with Diversity 25 (2003).
  2. Roger K. Newman, Hugo Black: A Biography 33 (1994).
  3. Id.
  4. Id. at 35-36
  5. Levinson, supra note 1.
  6. Newman, supra note 2 at 37.

Generally, rule 4 will provide guidance for proper short-form citation of this type of authority, as is discussed under general short-form citation rules in this guide.

Short forms for works in a collection

Rule 15.10.1 establishes special rules for citation of shorter works in a collection.

"Id." may be used to cite to a shorter work in a collection if the shorter work was cited in the same or the immediately proceeding footnote, but "Id." may not be used to cite the entire collection.

"Supra" should be used to refer to the entire work as a whole.  The title of the entire work, however, should always be used instead of the author. 

NOTE: If the entire title would be cumbersome or confusing to use with "supra," a "hereinafter" citation may be appropriate, as is discussed elsewhere in this guide.

Supra should also be used to refer to the short work if it has been previously cited and Id. is not appropriate.  In this case, use the author name with "supra."