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Essential Legal Research Skills for Law Students: Legal Writing, Formatting Options, and Citation

During the fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, some of the library services will be modified to address the effects of the COVID-19 virus. Check the Law Library web page for updates (

In General

Whether you are drafting an appellate brief for a class assignment or submission to a court, there are special ethical considerations and formatting and citation rules to keep in mind. It will be helpful to review the CALI Lesson: Appellate Briefs: Ethical and Professional Considerations. If you are writing an article for publication on a legal topic, special citation rules apply. Remember that the Bluebook was written by members of law reviews, and the rules contained in the white pages show the fonts used in law review writing; for class papers and court documents, follow the rules in the light blue pages. Citations for documents filed in New York courts should also follow the rules in the New York Official Reports Style Manual.

Basic Bluebooking for Law Review Footnotes

Inserting Footnotes in MS Word 

Formatting an Appellate Brief

When formatting an appellate brief, be sure to comply with the Court Rules provided in class.

Below are links to instructions for formatting the headings, page numbers, table of contents and table of authorities for the brief. Always check the video or website to be sure it is up to date:

Formatting Your Appellate Brief for PC (Deborah L. Heller, Elisabeth Haub Law Library)

Formatting Your Appellate Brief for Mac (Deborah L. Heller, Elisabeth Haub Law Library)

Guide to Formatting Your Appellate Brief (Univ. Montana Law Library - includes instructions for PC and Mac)

How to Format an Appellate Brief (from Lawyerist, with short videos)

How to Create a Table of Authorities Using Word (Microsoft Office Support)

Formatting with Lexis for Microsoft Office (download instructions for PC or Mac from Lexis; includes formatting, citation tools, and checking quotation formats).

YouTube video by attorney Austin Egan on formatting an appellate brief on a Mac.

Click here for information on how to submit your Appellate Brief anonymously.