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Seton Hall Law

Bluebooking Guide: Home

Guide to help you construct a properly bluebooked citation.

Bluebooking Guide


A little Light Reading: "Rhapsody in Blue: An Ode to the Bluebook" by Michael Coenen (link)

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

Quick Tips

  1. Review the entire rule
  2. Use the Basic Citations Forms section (front and back of the BB)
  3. Cross reference other rules when instructed (as needed)
  4. Table of Contents & Index help you locate relevent rules
  5. Rule 1-9 outline general standards of citation and style
  6. Rule 10-21 outline rules for citing specific types of authority (cases, statutes,etc)

Additional Help

Still need more help?  Consult the following resources:

Legal Writing Citation in a Nutshell by Larry L. Teply (on Reserve in the Library): KF245 .T47 2008

Understanding and Mastering the Bluebook by Linda J. Barris (on Reserve in the Library): KF245 .B37 2007   

Suffolk University Law School, A Bluebook Guide for Law Students by Scott Akehurst-Moore

Peter W. Martin's Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2013).  Available through Cornell's Legal Information Institute 

LexisNexis Interactive Citation Workstation

Elon Univ. School of Law's Understanding Citations (Instructional videos introducing legal citation construction) 

Alan L. Dworsky's User's Guide to the Bluebook (on Reserve in the Library):  KF245 .D853 2010

  • Reference Desk:  973-642-8861
  • Email: 

Ask a Librarian!

Step 1. Getting Started

Unless you know which rule you need to start with, start your bluebooking by using one of the below:

  1. Determine source type.
  2. Index (pg 525-560) 
    • Great tool for determining which rule to use.  
    • Large list of indexed terms to help you locate exactly what you are looking for:   
      • ex: model code, brackets, blogs, Shakespeare, the bible, id, court filings, etc...
    • When you know you need to address a specific element of a citation, and don't know where to find it
    • To look up a resource by type (American Law Reports, the C.F.R., etc...) 
    • Example: Look up Explanatory Parentheticals in the index
  3. Quick Reference
    • Quickly determine which rules to look at based on resource type (case, statute, etc) 
      1. Front cover of Bluebook: For Law Review Footnotes
      2. Back cover of Bluebook: Court Documents & Memos
  4. Table of Contents
    • Use when you need help getting an overview of proper bluebooking structure
      • Rule 1: Structure & Use of Citations
      • Rule 2: Typefaces for Law Reviews
      • Rule 3: Subdivisions
      • Rule 4: Short Citation Form
      • Rule 5: Quotations
      • etc...

Step 2. Dive Deep

When reviewing a rule to determine proper citation style, read the ENTIRE rule to make sure you aren't missing a critical detail!  

  1. Start with the first section of the rule, and work you way through each subsection of the rule
  2. Cross reference other rules and tables when directed as you work through the rule
  3. Big picture organization:
    • Rule 1-9:      Outline general standards of citation and style
    • Rule 10-21:   Outline cition rules for specific types of authority (cases, statutes,etc)Tables (pg 215-473): Outline which authority you should cite and how to properly abbreviate (among other things)

NOTE: Discussion on Periodical Materials, Books, Reports & Other, and Internet, Electronic Media & Other can be found at the bottom of this guide.

Step 3. Pay attention to the details

Use the tables in the back of the BB (pg 233-523) to finalize your citations.

Know which which Reporters & Statutory Publications to cite

  • T.1 (pg 233):  

Proper Abreviations

  • T6: Case names & Institutional Authors
  • T7: Court names
  • T9: Legislative documents
  • T10: States, cities, territories
  • T12: Months
  • T13: periodicals


  • Typefaces for law reviews: Rule 2
    • Provides a summary of which typeface to use in different circumstances (Ordinary Roman, Italicized, Large and Small Caps)
    • Rule 2.1 - Application in Footnotes
    • Rule 2.2 - Application in article body
  • Italicization: Rule 7
    • Rules of use of italicization in unique circumstances
  • Rule 8: Capitalization rules for specific resources, words, headings & titles, and exceptions to these rules.

Step 4. Remember - There isn't a rule for everything

“Because of the ever-increasing range of authorities cited in legal writing, no system of citation can be complete. Therefore when citing material of a type not explicitly discussed in this book, try to locate an analogous type of authority that is discussed and use that citation form as a model.  Always be sure to provide sufficient information to allow the reader to find the cited material quickly and easily.”
-   Bluebook Introduction, pg 1

Periodical Materials

Rule 16 outlines the proper citation of law review articles, notes, comments, symposium, and book reviews; magazine articles; newspaper articles & newsletters.  

  • The Basic Citation Forms chart on pg 159-160 provides simple samples of what the citation of the specific resources listed on the left column of the chart might look like.
  • Rule 16.8(a): Citing periodical materials obtained in a database (like Westlaw, Lexis, Blaw)
  • Rule 16.8(b): Deciding whether to cite to print or electronic, and how to cite to material only available online, 

Books, Reports, And Other...

Rule 15 "governs the citation fo books, treatises, reports, white papers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and all other" non-journal materials.  - Bluebook pg 149.

  • The Main Elements Chart (Rule 15, pg 149) discusses the main elements to include when citing one of the resources covered by rule 15.  It also indicates which subsections of rule 15 should be consulted for those various elements.   
    • Author - Rule 15.1
    • Editor/Translator - Rule 15.2
    • Title - Rule 15.3
    • Edition, Publisher & Date - Rule 15.4
    • Page, section, paragraph - Rule 3.2 & 3.3
  • Rules for "special" Nonperiodic Materials 
    • Essays, articles & other works in a Collection - Rule 15.5.1
    • Unpublished letters, speaches, manuscripts, diaries and other documents - Rule 15.5.2(b)
    • Documents originally published and then reprinted in another collection - Rule 15.5.2
  • Rule 15.9(a): Citing secondary sources obtained in a database (like Westlaw, Lexis, Blaw)
  • Rule 15.9(b): Citing e-books, books & reports only available online 

The Internet, Electronic Media, and Other...

Rule 18: Information found online (including websites, Lexis, Westlaw, & other electronic databases)


18.2.1(a):  Instructions on when you are permitted to cite online sources "as if they were the original print"

18.2.1(b):  Instructions on when you should add the URL to the end of the citation (Obscure sources, has print characteristics)

18.2.2:  Cite directly to internet sources that don't exist in a "traditional printed format" 

Commercial Electronic Databases (18.3)

  • 10.8.1: Cases - Pending & Unreported - cases available on electronic media
  • 12.5: Statutes - Electronic Media and Online Sources
  • 13.7: Legislative Materials - Electronic Media and Online Sources
  • 14.3.2(c): Administrative and Executive Materials - Services and electronic databases
  • 14.4(d): Administrative and Executive Materials - Electronic Resources
  • 15.9: Books, Reports, & Other Nonperiodic Materials - Electronic Media and Online Sources
  • 16.8: Periodic Materials - Electronic Media and Online Sources
  • 17.5: Unpublished & Forthcoming Sources - Electronic Media and Online Sources