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.
Citing Legally, created and authored by Peter W. Martin, Professor of Law, Emeritus, Cornell University Law School, is a blog concerning the citation of legal authorities by lawyers and judges.
The first edition of the citation manual, A Uniform System of Citation, was written and compiled in 1926 by the editors of the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal in an attempt to raise money to offset the costs of printing the law reviews. The Bluebook website hosts PDFs of the 1st edition (1926) through the 15th edition (1996) for those with a interest in the history of 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 ALWD Guide to Legal Citation was developed by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) as an alternative to The Bluebook. Now in the 5th edition, The Guide to Legal Citation seeks to provide a less complex alternative to the The Bluebook citation system. The Guide to Legal Citation provides one system for all legal documents.
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.
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.
The Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) has prepared a chart that compares selected ALWD and Bluebook Rules.
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.
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.
International Legal Citation Manual
The editors of the Global Studies Law Review at Washington University are developing a manual for international citation with links to citations for legal materials from various countries worldwide.
Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations, 2d ed.
The guide "provides standards for citing country-specific constitutions, legislation, and jurisprudence in the style of the source's jurisdiction's own citation system."
The guide also includes standards for citing "treaties and documents from international organizations, as well as from regional and hybrid courts."
A print copy of the Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations, 2d ed., is on reserve in the first floor reserve section of the law library. The call number is: K 89 G85 2009.
Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations, 3rd ed.
A print copy of Donald Raistrick's Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations, 3rd ed., is available in the third floor stacks at the law library. The call number is: KD 400.R35 2008.