A consistent and uniform citation method for legal materials is important for two reasons. First, it must be possible for the reader to accurately and efficiently locate and verify the information that is offered in support of legal arguments and theories. Second, a citation system provides visual clues to the reader as to the authority of the referenced legal material.
The two most often used citation systems in the United States are The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation.
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, now in its 20th edition, is published and distributed by the Harvard Law Review Association. The Coordinating Editor of The Bluebook is Mary Miles Prince, Associate Director, Vanderbilt Law School Library, with special editorial assistance on the citations of foreign jurisdictions from the Directorate of Legal Research of the Law Library of Congress.
There are a number of copies of The Blue Book, A Uniform System of Citation, 20th ed., on reserve in the law library.
See the "Guides and Tutorials" section below for information on the structure of The Bluebook citation system and guidance on how to apply its rules for legal citation.
The 5th edition includes free access to the Online Companion website that includes exercises and examples.
There are a number of copies of the Guide to Legal Citation, 5th ed., on reserve in the law library.
See the "Guides and Tutorials" section below for information on the structure of the Guide to Legal Citation citation system and advice on how to apply its rules for legal citation.
Guides and Tutorials
Peter W. Martin created the free online resource Introduction to Basic Legal Citation. This resource is indexed to the fourth edition of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation and the 19th edition of The Bluebook. Martin's introduction notes that the resource "also documents the many respects in which contemporary legal writing, very often following guidelines set out in court rules, diverges from the citation formats specified by those academic texts." Short tutorials and other examples are provided to help the user understand and apply the citation systems.
Another interactive online free resource was created by the Georgetown University Law Library. There is a general BlueBook Guide and three short interactive video tutorials that address citations for cases, statutes, and law review articles.
Lexis created the Interactive Citation Workshop. After logging on to Lexis Advance, click the "Research" drop down menu in the upper left corner of the screen to locate the Interactive Citation Workshop. The interactive tool walks the user through citation exercises in both the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, 5th ed., and The Bluebook, 19th ed.
Foreign Law Citation Resources
Rule 20 in the Bluebook deals with citing foreign materials. Rule 20 has been greatly expanded in the19th edition of The Bluebook. Rule 21 has been completely rewritten and provides citation conventions in the foreign and international legal fields. See Introduction to The Bluebook for additional information.