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Essential Legal Research Skills for Law Students: Bluebooking

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"The central function of a legal citation is to allow the reader to efficiently locate the cited source." The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation 1 (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds., 21st ed. 2020).

Citations in legal writing serve two purposes:

  • Attribution - to identify the source of ideas expressed in the text, and
  • Support - to direct the reader to specific authority supporting the proposition in the text

Avoid accidental plagiarism by citing a source for any idea that is not original.

The Bluepages section of the Bluebook addresses non-academic citation. It is citation for practitioners and law clerks. Here you will find guidance and examples of citation formats that you will use when writing your memoranda, briefs, and other court documents.In your first year you will be writing legal memoranda and briefs, therefore you will follow the examples in the Bluepages.

The white pages in the Bluebook address academic citation. This is citation for law reviews, journals, and other academic legal publications. The white pages expand on the rules included in the Bluepages. N.B. The citations in the white pages use large and small capital letters. If you consult the examples here remember that large and small caps are used only for stylistic purposes in non-academic citation.

Page 7 has a helpful table that sets out the differences between the typeface used in non-academic and academic citation.

Front inside cover

Quick Reference Guide to Law Review Footnotes, which you will NOT be using in the first year. These rules are for academic legal citation. You will use them in your 2d and 3d year of law school for writing your upper level papers and law review notes and comments.

Table of Contents

Pages IX - XVI

Guide to the Bluepages rules and the academic (white pages) rules and tables. 

The Bluepages

Includes introduction to basic legal citation for practitioners and rules B1-B21. Also includes tables BT1 and BT2.

These are the rules YOU WILL BE USING in your first year. 

Rules 1-9 General rules covering structure and use of citations (rule 1); typefaces (rule 2); subdivisions (rule 3); short forms (rule 4); quotations (rule 5); abbreviations, numerals, and symbols (rule 6); italicization (rule 7); and capitalization (rule 8). 
Rules 10-19 Rules for citing specific sources, including cases (rule 10); constitutions (rule 11); statutes (rule 12); legislative materials (rule 13); administrative and executive materials (rule 14); books (rule 15); periodicals including law reviews (rule 16); unpublished and forthcoming sources (rule 17); and Internet resources (rule 18).
Rules 20-21 Rules for citing foreign and international law.
Tables T1 - T16 Table T1 contains guidance on case law and statutory citation by jurisdiction. Table T6 covers abbreviations for case names. Table 10 covers abbreviations for geographical terms.
Index Detailed guide to the Bluebook rules.
Back inside cover

Quick Reference Guide to Court Documents and Legal Memoranda, which IS the format that you will be using in Legal Skills this year. 

Back cover Contains outline of Bluebook contents.


Court Unofficial reporters Official reporter (reporter required by
Bluebook table T1 is in blue)
Example (with pinpoint page) Short form example  (when you can't use id.)
U.S. Supreme Court

West's Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.) 

Lawyer's Edition (L. Ed.) 

United States Reports (U.S.) 

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 442 (1966).

Miranda, 384 U.S. at new page.
U.S. Courts of Appeals   Federal Reporter (F., F.2d, F.3d)

Env't. Def. Fund v. EPA, 465 F.2d 528, 529 (D.C. Cir. 1972).

Env't. Def. Fund, 465 F.2d at new page.
U.S. District Courts   Federal Supplement (F. Supp., F. Supp 2d, F. Supp. 3d)

Duren v. Bennett, 275 F. Supp. 2d 374, 377 (E.D.N.Y. 2003).

Duren, 275 F. Supp. 2d at new page.

* Make sure that you are consistent in your citations. If you choose to italicize case names, then always italicize. If you choose to underscore, then always underscore. Do not mix the two.


Court Official reporter Unofficial reporters (reporter required by Bluebook table T1 is in blue) Example (with pinpoint page) Short form example (when you can't use id.)
N.Y. Court of Appeals

New York Reports (N.Y., N.Y.2d, N.Y.3d) 

New York Supplement (N.Y.S., N.Y.S.2d, N.Y.S.3d)
North Eastern Reporter (N.E., N.E.2d, N.E.3d)

People v. Rosario, 173 N.E.2d 881, 885 (N.Y. 1961).

Rosario, 173 N.E.2d at new page.
N.Y. Supreme Court, Appellate Division

Appellate Division Reports (A.D., A.D.2d, A.D.3d)

New York Supplement (N.Y.S., N.Y.S.2d, N.Y.S.3d) 

People v. Ray, 527 N.Y.S.2d 864, 865 (App. Div. 2d Dep't 1988).

Ray, 527 N.Y.S.2d at new page.
N.Y. trial level courts*

Miscellaneous Reports (Misc., Misc. 2d, Misc. 3d)

New York Supplement (N.Y.S., N.Y.S.2d, N.Y.S.3d) 

People v. Arthur, 673 N.Y.S.2d 486, 487 (Sup. Ct. 1997).

Arthur, 673 N.Y.S.2d at new page.

*The trial level courts in New York include the Supreme Court, Court of Claims, Family Court, Surrogate's Court, County Courts, City Courts, Civil Court of the City of New York, Criminal Court of the City of New York, District Courts of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and Town and Village Justice Courts. Opinions of the Appellate Term, an intermediate appellate court in the 1st and 2nd Departments, are also published in Miscellaneous Reports.

To summarize: for New York, cite the New York Supplement for all courts except the highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Cite the North Eastern Reporter for the New York Court of Appeals.

Code Official compilation (version preferred by Bluebook table T1 is in blue) Unofficial compilations (version preferred by Bluebook table T1 is in blue) Example Short form (when you can't use id.)
Federal United States Code (U.S.C.)

United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.)

United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.)

18 U.S.C. § 231 


18 U.S.C. § 231 (2016).

18 U.S.C.A. § 231 (West)


18 U.S.C.A. § 231 (West 2015).

18 U.S.C.S. § 231 (LexisNexis)


18 U.S.C.S. § 231 (LexisNexis 2009).

18 U.S.C. § 231 

18 U.S.C.A. § 231

18 U.S.C.S. § 231


§ 231

New York  

McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York) (McKinney)

Consolidated Laws Service (C.L.S.)

N.Y. Penal Law § 120.10 (McKinney 2009).

N.Y. Penal Law § 120.10 (Consol. 2009).

N.Y. Penal Law § 120.10

N.Y. Penal Law § 120.10


§ 120.10

Bluebook rule B12 has been revised so that for a federal statute, the year of publication or the year the statute was passed (for session laws) is now optional rather than required. B12 does still require the publication date of the print or an authenticated electronic edition in the parenthetical. Additionally, citations of an unofficial state code also must include the name of the publisher in the date parenthetical.

If the code is published by West (Thomson Reuters), look in the Thomson Reuters store and very often there will be a TOC with the dates of publication by clicking on the Summary of contents on the left.

Secondary source Example (includes pinpoint page or section) Short form (when you can't use id.)
Book (single volume)
(rules B15 & 15)
Linda C. Fentiman, Blaming Mothers: American Law and the Risk to Children's Health 55 (2017). Fentiman, supra, at new page.
Book (multi-volume)
(rules B15 & 15)
3 Michael B. Mushlin, Rights of Prisoners § 2.2 (5th ed. 2017). Mushlin, supra, § new section.
Law review article

(rules B16.1.1 & 16.4, tables T10, T13)

Bennett L. Gershman, Constitutionalizing Ethics, 38 Pace L. Rev. 40, 42 (2017).

Gershman, supra, at new page.
Legal encyclopedia
(rules B15.1 & 15.8)

17 Am. Jur. 2d Animals § 27 (2018).

17 Am. Jur. 2d, supra, new section.
(rules B12.1.3 & 12.9.4)
Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 (Am. Law Inst. 1965).

Restatement (Second) of Torts § new section.

Torts § new section.

American Law Reports
(rule 16.7.6)

Marjorie A. Shields, Annotation, Snowboarder's  Liability for Injuries to or Death of Another Person, 15 A.L.R.6th 161 (2006).

Shields, supra, at new page.
Newspaper article
(rules B16.1.4 & 16.6, tables T10, T13)


Adam Liptak, Wartime Internment of Japanese Looms Over Travel Ban Case, N.Y. Times, Apr. 17, 2018, at A12.

Adam Liptak, Travel Ban Case Is Shadowed by One of Supreme Court's Darkest Moments, N.Y. Times (Apr. 16, 2018),

Liptak, supra, at new page.


Liptak, supra.