There have been several noteworthy changes to The Bluebook for its 20th Edition. Some of the biggest include:
For a more detailed list of changes, see the Preface of the 20th Edition.
It's always a good idea to become more proficient in using the Bluebook, but it's even more important when you're working for faculty. Most of our faculty's work must conform to the Bluebook, and you may be asked to check that their citations are properly formatted. Unless the faculty member for which you are working says otherwise, it is also a good practice to make sure that any bibliographies or other lists of sources that you give to the faculty are properly formatted in Bluebook style. This will help when any of these sources need to be cited later.
The following sites contain some helpful information and guides to properly formatting Bluebook-style citations.
1. Tab your Bluebook.
Tab rules or sources that you use often.
2. Look up every rule.
There is a rule of almost every little nuance, so even when not in doubt, look it up.
3. Use the Index.
The index is your best friend. It's like having a librarian at your side. Most of the sources you will have questions about can be found in the index.
4. Unable to locate source in Bluebook?
If you are unable to locate an exampe of how to locate a source in the Bluebook, do a search to see how the source was cited in the Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and UPenn law reviews. Where better to find the answer than from the editors of the Bluebook. Additionally, if it is a source from a particular state, like the Peach Sheets, try searching for how that source was cited in law reviews from that state.
Bluepages (p. 3-51) provide an abbreviated introduction to the Bluebook. Start your citation search within this section for practitioner legal writing: court documents and legal memoranda.
Whitepages (p. 52-214) supplement the Bluepages, and are helpful in areas that the Bluepages may not address. This section is for academic legal writing: journals and law reviews.
Rules 1 - 9: Style and Order
Rules 10 - 14: U.S. Primary Sources
Rules 15 - 17: Secondary Sources
Rule 18: Internet, Electronic Media, and Other Nonprint Resources
Rules 20 - 21: Foreign and International Sources
Tables 1 – 5: Jurisdictional sources
Tables 6 – 16: Abbreviations
The Bluepages Tables (BT1 and BT2): (p. 28)
The Bluepages Tables are the go-to for initial citation formation, and includes abbreviations for words commonly found in court documents and jurisdiction-specific citation rules.
T6 Case Names: (p. 430)
This table provides all of the ways the Bluebook wants you to abbreviate case names. By far the most referenced Bluebook table.
T1 United States Jurisdictions: (p. 215)
Provides correct citation and abbreviation information for all United States jurisdictions, including federal, state, and territories.
T7 Court Names: (p. 432)
Provides abbreviations for court names to be used in citing cases according to Rule 10.4.
T10 Geographical Terms: (p. 436)
Gives abbreviations for geographical locations for use in case citations, names of institutional authors, periodical abbreviations, foreign materials, and treaty citations.
T13 Periodicals: (p. 444)
Contains an alphabetical list of abbreviations for select periodicals and individual words commonly found in periodicals.
T2 Foreign Jurisdictions: (p. 277)
Provides correct citation and abbreviation for foreign jurisdictions, basic information about the legal system of various countries, and websites for additional information.
The following list most of the abbreviations you're likely to come across.
You probably remember other citation styles, such as APA or MLA, from undergrad; sometimes our faculty need to have their citations formatted in these styles rather than in Bluebook. If this is the case, we can help. Check out these resources first:
Citation software can help organize, store, and format citations in a variety of citation styles, including Bluebook. Some software allows sharing among a group of researchers, which can be helpful for you and your faculty member. The following citation managers all work with Bluebook format.