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A Universal Bluebook Legal Citation Generator

If you are a student of one of the U.S. law schools, there is one thing that is most likely driving you crazy. It’s the dreaded Bluebook referencing guide. Bearing a seemingly innocent name, which it owes to its blue-colored cover and inch-thick, the Bluebook is a comprehensive guide on how to reference academic and legal documents in your legal papers.

The Bluebook is probably the only style guide that has other, smaller style guides explaining how to use it. To find the information you need in it is a challenge but one that you can overcome with the help of our Bluebook citation maker.

Let’s start from the very beginning.

The origins and fundamentals of the Bluebook referencing style

Usually, the Bluebook referencing style is traced to a pamphlet by Erwin Griswold, the editor of Harvard Law Review, on how to properly cite law articles. Recent studies, however, argue that the style was born in Yale with the publication of Karl N. Llewellyn on how to write law materials for the Yale Law Journal.

Whatever the origin, however, today the Bluebook is used by the majority of U.S. law schools and provides information on citations, typefaces, subdivisions, quotations, abbreviations, special symbols, capitalizations, titles, and so on. In fact, the Bluebook is so widespread and ubiquitous that a new word has been created – “bluebooking,” which means citing sources in full accordance with the style guide’s norms.

Alternative citation systems exist and are also used in some jurisdictions, but the Bluebook remains the most frequently used one.

The guide consist of four main sections:

  • Bluepages (information about basic legal citation) which is designed to be an easy-to-use, condensed version of the entire manual
  • The full rules of citation and style (21 rule in the current edition)
  • The tables section with information on authorities that have to be cited and abbreviations to be used
  • Index designed to help you find the rules you need

The guide is published by law editors of Columbia, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. It was revised in 1990, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 and is currently in its 20th edition.

A guide on how to cite Bluebook format

The general rule of citation is that legal documents are cited in the body of the paper, while academic documents are cited in footnotes or endnotes.

The style also distinguishes between short-form and full-form citations. Once a full-form citation has been used at least once, the same legal source can be cited using a short-form citation. Note, however, that the use of short-form citations is only appropriate and allowed where the reader will have no difficulty going back to the full-form citation.

Legal citations also have so-called signals – introductory parts that indicate whether the cited source confirms or contradicts the opinion of the writer (“e.g.” “see,” “see also” and so on).

The formats of citing will depend on the material you want to cite – cases, constitutions, statutes, regulations and administrative materials, electronic and Internet sources, books, etc. All of these have dedicated parts in the Bluebook that you can use for consults.

Using Bluebook in-text citation generator

Using our Bluebook legal citation generator can make legal citing much easier for you. With its help, you can cite academic sources like you would do it in any other style without having to consult the monstrously detailed style guide. Note, however, that this instrument is not intended for legal documents. It means it can’t be used to create Bluebook case citation or any other type of legal document citation.

To create the Bluebook citation online, you will have to take the usual steps:

  • Choose the appropriate style and source type
  • Provide relevant information
  • Click on “Generate”

And voila – your citation is generated and ready to be used.

Bluebook 20th edition examples

As it has already been mentioned, the Bluebook style guide is now in its 20th edition and has dedicated sections for different types of documents. Here, we will provide some Bluebook 20th edition examples of formatting for legal and academic documents to help you better understand the fundamentals of legal citing.

CITING CASES

The format of doing citations for cases depends on the type of the case, the court, and the jurisdiction. It includes the following mandatory elements:

  • Case name
  • Volume number
  • Reporter (abbreviation)
  • 1st page of the case
  • Pinpoint
  • Court
  • Year when the decision was made

For academic documents, case names need no additional formatting, while in court documents, they are italicized or underlined.

The full information on citing cases is provided in Rule 10 of the Bluebook Guide. Also, when citing cases, you will have to consult several tables (1, 6, 7 and 10) to get information on abbreviations (reporter, terms, court and geographical names), preferred sources and lists of courts in each state.

The Bluebook also prescribes which reporter (court decision-publishing publication) shall be cited if the decision on a certain case was published in several reporters.

CITING STATUTES

The general format for citing statutes is as follows:

  • Title
  • Code (abbreviation)
  • Section
  • Date of the relevant edition

For detailed information on citing statutes, you will have to consult Rule 12 of the Bluebook (which also provides information on citing rules of evidence and procedure, laws and municipal ordinances) and Table 1 that provides details about abbreviations and statutory codes that should be used for citing (official or unofficial ones).

CITING CONSTITUTIONS

The information on citing state and federal constitutions is provided in Rule 11 of the Bluebook. The general format is as follows:

  • Appropriate abbreviation (referred to in Table 10)
  • Abbreviation for constitution (which is “Const.”)
  • Section of the Constitution (article, paragraph, clause)

CITING REGULATIONS

Executive and administrative materials, including federal regulations, are cited according to the provisions of Rule 14 of the Bluebook. The general format is as follows:

  • Title number in the Code of Federal Regulations
  • F.R. (which is the designated abbreviation for the Code of Federal Regulations)
  • Number of the section cited
  • Date of the relevant edition

CITING BOOKS AND REPORTS

The general format for citing a book is as follows:

  • Number of the volume cited
  • Full name of the author (as published on the title page)
  • Title of the book (should be underlined and put into italics)
  • Page, section or paragraph
  • Edition (if there were more than one)
  • Publication year

Note that, as is the case with other styles, the format will differ depending on whether the book has an author or just an editor and other variables. The full information on citing books as legal sources is provided in Rule 15 of the Bluebook.

CITING PERIODICALS (LAW REVIEWS AND OTHERS)

The information on citing periodicals is found in Rule 16 of the Bluebook Guide. The general format for citing a journal article is as follows:

  • The full name of the author (as stated in the article)
  • Article’s title (underlined and put into italics)
  • Number of the volume cited
  • Abbreviation of the journal title (as in some other styles, the Bluebook provides a list of pre-defined abbreviations for legal publications that can be cited)
  • The first page of the article
  • Publication date

SIGNALS

As it has already been mentioned, signals serve to indicate whether the source cited supports or contradicts the writer’s idea.

Support signals include: E.g.,” “Accord,” “See,” “See also,” “Cf.”.

Comparison signal is, quite expectedly, “compare…with…”.

Contradiction signals are “Contra,” “But see,” “But cf.”.

Background material is indicated with “See generally.” The signals are usually put into italics or underlined.

There is a list of elements that should be italicized in citations, such as the names of cases, titles of books, titles of journal articles, introductory signals (see above), explanations and cross-references.

Some elements, on the other hand, are never italicized. Such elements are statutes, constitutions, restatements, reporters, services, journal names, regulations, rules and other administrative materials.

The rule of thumb is not to use italics for any items that are not on the “to be italicized” list.

As you can see, using the Bluebook style is not an easy endeavor and should not be approached lightly. Due to the complexity and the variety of rules, it is hardly possible to have a one-stop tool for an automatic Bluebook citation, and so it is important to know where to go for each kind of citation.

With the help of our free Bluebook law review citation generator, you will have no problems citing academic documents such as books, articles, and online sources that will save you a great deal of time.

In fact, we encourage you to try it right now. There are so many things that you have to spend time on in law school. Making citations is not one of them. Use this Bluebook in-text citation generator or a legal citation tool to find time for more important, career-defining things.