About the Bluebook
What is It?
The Bluebook is the style manual that governs how American legal documents are cited in legal briefs, memoranda, court documents and law journals. It is published by the editors of the law journals at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.
As of this writing, the Bluebook is in the first printing of the 19th Edition.
It is also available online (a personal subscription is required) and as an iPad/iPhone app. For more information on the app, see our blog post and this comparison of the app to the online and print versions.
The Bluebook is not the only legal citation manual available. The Association of Legal Writing Directors publishes the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation,KF245 .A45, while the University of Chicago publishes its own citation manual, the University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation, KF245 .U578.
Additionally, an increasing number of states (including New Mexico, Maine and Wisconsin) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit have developed alternative legal citation systems. Courts in these jurisdictions require practitioners to use these alternative systems when they prepare and submit legal documents. These rules are listed in BT2.1
The Bluebook, however, remains the dominant citation authority for American law.
Where to Find It
Copies of the Bluebook KF245 .U5 are available in a number of places in both Library locations.
- Reference Desks: The Library staff keeps a copies of the Bluebook at both the Williams and Wolff Reference Desk. These copies always remain at the Reference Desk.
- Reading Room Reserve: Several copies of the Bluebook are kept with the legal research and writing materials in the Reading Room Reserve section of the Library. These copies must stay in the Williams Reading Room.
- Circulation Desks: There are multiple copies of the Bluebook located at each Library's Circulation Desk. These copies can be reserved for up to two hours at a time.
We advise all law students to buy a copy of Alan L. Dworsky's User's Guide to the Bluebook, KF245 .D853. It is a succinct, usable and readable introduction to the Bluebook that no student should be without.
Legal citation is a skill that is acquired and honed with constant practice. For those who want additional practice beyond that found in the legal writing curriculum, LexisNexis has developed a tool called the Interactive Citation Workstation (ICW). ICW is an online tutorial that helps law students build their basic citation skills. It is a good supplement to the instruction you will receive in first year classes.