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Law School Writing Center

Essential Bluebook Rules

  • Use Quick Reference (inside back cover) before main Index.
  • Become familiar with Tables, especially 1 (United States Jurisdictions), 6 (abbreviations of common words in case citations), 10 (state abbreviations), 13 (periodical/law review abbreviations)

 

  • Writing out numbers in words (R6.2) - Numbers up to and including ninety-nine should be written out in words.
  • Using short-form citations (R10) - After citing an authority in full, use a short-form citation for subsequent references to the same authority. Short-form citations generally appear as
    • Party A, Volume Reporter at Pincite
    • Id. [Only used when citing the same authority multiple times in a row]
  • Providing explanatory parentheticals (R1.5, R10.6)
  • Including jurisdiction in parentheses with date of decision - Appropriate abbreviation for jurisdiction must appear in parentheses with the date of decision when the name of the reporter does not reveal the jurisdiction; such a scenario occurs when opinions from multiple jurisdictions are printed in the same reporter.
  • Finding “star pages” - Digital copies of opinions reproduce page numbers from hard-copy reporters as “star pages,” indicated by one or more asterisks preceding a number in bold font. These numbers are sprinkled throughout the digital copy of the opinion. Find your pincite by locating the starred numbers immediately before and after the relevant text; the number immediately before the text is the page number where the text appears in the hard-copy reporter. If the opinion appears in multiple reporters, then you can expect to encounter multiple sets of starred numbers. Make sure you track the sequence of page numbers corresponding to the reporter to which you are citing.
  • Encountering parallel citations - When an opinion appears in multiple reporters, a separate citation to each reporter will appear on your digital copy. Unless your jurisdiction requires parallel citations, you should not cite multiple reporters for the same authority. Instead, consult Table 1 to determine which reporter is the preferred source in your jurisdiction.

 

Make your citations work for you! Rarely will you need to write “According to [authority]…” or “In [authority]…” This information already is conveyed by the citation to the authority you are providing after the textual sentence. Rather than beginning your sentence weakly with a redundant reference, you can help your busy reader by getting to the point as quickly as possible. Moreover, shifting as many citations as possible into citation sentences will clean up your textual sentences and make your document easier to read overall.