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Legal Citation

This research guide contains resources to aid students in learning how to accurately cite sources in written work, with an emphasis on the Bluebook.

Introduction to Legal Citation

Citation, n. "A reference to a legal precedent or authority, such as a case, statute, or treatise, that either substantiates or contradicts a given position. -- Often shortened to cite." Citation, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).

There are several different systems for legal citation (see the box titled Legal Citation Manuals/Guides). Whichever system you're using, there are a few main tenets of citation to keep in mind:

  • cite to the what you are looking at (online or print);
  • provide enough information so your reader can find the resource you used; and
  • be consistent!

When looking to cite a source using The Bluebook, there are a few steps you can take that will help you develop a properly formatted citation. These are:

  1. Determine what type of material you are looking at (is it a book, periodical, case, statute, etc.),
  2. Use The Bluebook's Index or Table of Contents to determine the appropriate rule for citing that type of material,
  3. Review the introductory part of the rule and formulate a citation as best you can with the information you have,
  4. For any uncertainties, delve deeper into the applicable rule, or search the index for additional entries that may address your questions,
  5. If you need help figuring out a citation, check with a research librarian.

Pro Tip - if you are unsure how to cite a particular source, search for it in the law reviews databases of Lexis or Westlaw to see how others have cited it.

Legal Citation Manuals/Guides

The Bluebook

AWLD Guide to Legal Citation

The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation

Universal Citation Guide 

Abbreviations for Citations