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Bluebook Citation 101 -- Academic Format

If writing a scholarly article, you will need to provide correct attribution to your sources. This guide provides basic information on Bluebook citation in the scholarly format. Students writing seminar papers will find this guide invaluable.

Overview

Rule 18.3 of The Bluebook states that commercial databases such as Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law should be cited in preference to other Internet citations. For citation format, see the following rules:

  • Cases -- R. 10.8.1
  • Constitutions -- R. 11
  • Statutes -- R. 12.5
  • Legislative Materials -- R. 13.7
  • Regulations -- R.14.4
  • Books, Reports, etc. -- R. 15.9
  • Periodicals -- R. 16.8

Statutes

Codes should be cited according to R. 12.3, but if citing to an electronic database, additional information is required per R. 12.5.

Elements

  • Title (for Federal)
  • Abbreviated name of the code per T. 1 (use large & small font)
  • Subject (where applicable)
  • Title, Chapter, Volume (where applicable)
  • Section and/or paragraph
  • Publisher (unless official code publisher)
  • Database
  • Currency of the database (as opposed to year of the code)

Examples

Cal. Bus. & Prof. § 1670.2 (West, WestlawNext with urgency legislation through Ch. 264 of 2015 Reg. Sess.).

Cal. Bus. & Prof. § 1670.2 (Deering, Lexis Advance for urgency legislation through Ch. 240 of the 2015 Legis. Sess., approved Sept. 2, 2015).

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources should be cited according to the rules for that source, but add a parallel cite to an electronic database. Include the database identifer if it is available.

Example

Pamela Wood, Freddie Gray Case Becomes a Legal LessonWash. Post, Sept. 9, 2015, at B5, 2015 WLNR 26684354.

Cases

According to Rules 10.8.1 and 18.3.1, an "unreported" case may be cited to an electronic database. 

Elements

  • Case name (see R. 10)
  • Docket number
  • Database identifier (if unavailable, add information on the specific collection in a parenthetical)
  • Page or paragraph numbers
  • Court name (see R. 6, R. 10, T. 7, T. 10)
  • Full date

Examples

Beaven v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, No. 03-84-JBC, 2007 WL 1032301, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 30, 2007).

Beaven v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, No. 03-84-JBC, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24459, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 30, 2007).

Beaven v. Ridley-Turner, No. 3:04-CV-160 RM (N.D. Ind. Apr. 18. 2005) (CaseMaker, U.S. District Court Case Law).

Short Form

Use the database identifier in the short form.

Example

Beaven, 2007 WL 1032301, at *3.

Beaven, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24459, at *3.

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