Bluebook 101 – A Primer

51vwQZEH5dL._SY300_The Bluebook is such an important legal tool, that even though most of us are very familiar with it, we thought it would be worthwhile to go do a general review and point out some valuable features.

First of all, if you’re not familiar with the Bluebook, here’s some background information. The Bluebook is now in its 19th edition. In 2012, the book underwent some major revisions and upgrades to bring it up to date and is now available in three versions: 1) A pdf version that can be printed and used with hyperlinks on iPads, computers and other tablets; 2) Kindle version that is also usable on readers using the Mobipocket. And, the good news is that since the Bluebook is now available online, the content can be continually updated.

Originally, the Bluebook was a pamphlet, written by editor Erwin Griswold and used for articles in the Harvard Law Review. In 1939, the cover was changed from brown to blue to show patriotism for the United States (blue) and to avoid comparison with Nazi Germany (brown).

What exactly is the Bluebook? It’s the style manual that illustrates how American legal documents are cited in briefs, court documents and law journals. Published by the editors of the law journals at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, it is not the only legal citation manual currently available. Other manuals include the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (The Association of Legal Writing Directors) and the University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation (University of Chicago). However, the Bluebook, currently at over 500 pages, continues to keep its place as the number one citation authority.

Governing the style and formatting of documents, the Bluebook contains:

–       Structure and Use of Citations

–       Typefaces for Law Review

–       Subdivisions

–       Short Citation Forms

–       Quotations

–       Abbreviations, Numerals and Symbols

–       Italicization for Style and in Unique Circumstances

–       Capitalization

–       Titles of Judges, Officials and Terms of Court

–       Cases

–       Constitutions

–       Statues

–       Legislative Materials

–       Administration and Executive Materials

–       Books, Reports and Other Non-periodic Materials

–       Periodical Materials

–       Unpublished and Forthcoming Sources

–       Electronic Media and Other Non-periodic Materials

–       Services

–       Foreign Materials

–       International Materials

The online version of the Bluebook was launched in 2008 while the mobile version first appeared in 2012. These electronic versions now make it possible for anyone involved in the legal profession to reference federal and state court rules, codes and style manuals on iPads and other mobile devices.

Next issue we’ll get into some of the particulars of the Bluebook, like “underlining” – what’s the rule and when do or when don’t you underline. We’ll also discuss the rules surrounding “citing other resources”


This entry was posted in Articles of Interest. Bookmark the permalink.