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Paralegal Studies: Bluebook

A general guide for the beginning researcher.

The Bluebook

Available for use in the library.

RCC Reference (2nd floor)

KF245 .B58

The Index

The Bluebook has an index, and a good one.  Use it.

Bluebooking Tip - Id.

Id. is a short form citation.  It is used to refer to the immediately preceding authority.  Use Id. alone when the new cite is on the same page as the previous one, and Id. at ____ when the new cite is on a different page.  Only capitalize the i in id. when it begins a citation sentence.

Always underline the period in Id. when using it in a court document or italicize the period when using it in a law review footnote.

So ...




Where to Start? Try Quick Reference

When searching for correct citation format, generally the best place to start is the Quick Reference guide.  The Quick Reference guide comes in 2 forms; 1 for law review footnotes (behind front cover) and 1 for court documents (behind back cover).  The difference between these 2 formats for citations is explained in the "Law Review Footnotes v. Court Documents" box on this page.  Images of the 2 quick reference guides are below.

Law Review Footnotes

For larger version, click here.

Court Documents

For larger version, click here.

Law Review Footnotes v. Court Documents

This comparison could also be called Blue Pages v. White Pages because it's the Blue Pages at the beginning of the Bluebook that contain the formats for citations used in court documents and legal memoranda, and it's the White Pagesthat contain the formats for citations appearing in law review footnotes.

The key distinction between citing according to the Blue Pages and the White Pages is TYPEFACE.  By that I mean usage of italics, underlining, large and small capitals, and regular roman type.  The typeface distinction is generally the only difference between the two formats.  So, you can use the White Pages to guide you when citing in court documents and legal memoranda so long as you use the correct typeface.  Here are 3 examples.

Case Names. In law review footnotes, case names are in regular roman type and in the actual text the case name isitalicized. By contrast, in court documents or legal memoranda, case names are always underlined, whether in the text or a footnote.  See below for an example.

Books.  In law review footnotes, books are placed in large and small capital letters.  In court documents and legal memoranda, books are in regular roman type.  See below or an example.

Court Rules.  Court rules are cited the same as books; large and small caps in law review footnotes, regular roman type in court documents and legal memoranda.  See below for an example.

In all 3 examples, the structure of the citation (elements of the citation, abbreviations, spacing, etc.) remains the same. The only difference is the typeface.


The Bluebook is huge into abbreviations.  Every court has an abbreviation, every reporter has an abbreviation, every law law review has an abbreviation, and many ordinary words are also abbreviated in case names and the like pursuant to the BB's voluminous abbreviation tables (the abbreviation tables are the blue edged pages that essentially comprise the 2d half of the BB).

Here's how it works.

  • The general rules for structuring abbreviations are contained in Rule 6.  Specific abbreviations are compiled as follows:
    • Table T1 contains abbreviations for federal and state courts and reporters, divided up by jurisdiction.
    • Table T6 contains words that are always abbreviated in case names in citations.
    • Table T7 provides general abbreviations for various courts (not jurisdiction specific - for that see Table T1).
    • Table T8 contains abbreviations for explanatory phrases used in a case's prior and subsequent history.
    • Table T9 provides abbreviations for legislative documents.
    • Table T10 provides abbreviations for geographical terms.
    • Table T11 provides abbreviations for the titles of judges and other officials.
    • Table T12 provides abbreviations for the months of the year.
    • Table T13 provides abbreviations for journals and other periodicals.