Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Bluebook Guide

The purpose of this guide is to introduce The Bluebook and basic concepts of legal citation to new law students.

What Is It?

The Bluebook is the style manual that governs how American legal documents are cited in legal memoranda, court documents, and law journals. It is published by the editors of the law journals at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

As of this writing, The Bluebook is in the first printing of the 20th Edition.

The Bluebook is not the only legal citation manual available. The Association of Legal Writing Directors publishes the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, and the University of Chicago publishes the University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation ("The Maroonbook").

Additionally, a number of states and courts have developed alternative legal citation systems or have different citation requirements. Legal practitioners in these jurisdictions will need to be aware of these particular requirements when they prepare and submit legal documents. Table 2 in the "Bluepages" of The Bluebook lists jurisdiction-specific citation rules and style guides. 

The Bluebook, however, remains the dominant citation manual for American law.

Where to Find It

Copies of the current edition of The Bluebook can be found under the call number KF245 .U5 in a number of places in within the Williams library.

  1. Reference Collection: Copies of The Bluebook are located in the reference collection. These copies may be used in the library and cannot be checked out.
  2. Circulation Desks/Reserve: Copies of The Bluebook are located on reserve at the circulation desk. These copies may be checked out for three hours at a time.
  3. Williams Stacks: Copies of The Bluebook are located on the Fifth Floor of the Williams library. These copies may be checked out by students for six weeks.

Having trouble finding a copy of The Bluebook in the library?  Consult the library maps or ask for help at the Reference Desk.

The Bluebook is also available online (personal subscription required) and as an iPad/iPhone app via Rulebook.

Interactive Citation Workstation

As noted previously, The Bluebook is a vast, complex citation manual, and it will take some time (and a lot of patience) to learn the rules and understand legal citation. The best way to learn The Bluebook is simply to start using it.

One resource for additional practice with legal citation is Lexis's Interactive Citation Workstation (ICW). ICW is an online tutorial that helps law students build their basic citation skills. It is a good supplement to the instruction provided in introductory legal research and writing courses.

To access ICW, login to Lexis Advance and go to Lexis Interactive Citation Workstation under Lexis Advance Research:

Lexis Interactive Citation Workstation