Bluebook Guide

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

Citing Other Resources

The Bluebook contains rules that prescribe how to cite a variety of legal documents. There are too many rules for this introductory guide to cover.  However, the following are rules and examples for other types of legal documents that many first-year law students may need to cite in addition to cases and statutes.


Rule 11 covers how to cite the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions.

A citation to a constitution includes three elements:

  1. U.S. or the state abbreviation (see Table 10)
  2. Const. (The Bluebook's abbreviation for constitution)
  3. Section or subdivision 

For example, here is how you would cite the provision of the U.S. Constitution that says that each state shall have two Senators:

U.S. Const. art. I, § 3, cl. 1


Rule 14 covers how to cite administrative and executive materials, including U.S. federal regulations. For more information on federal regulations and other types of administrative (i.e., agency) materials, see our Administrative Law Research Guide

A citation to a U.S. federal regulation in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) includes four elements:

  1. C.F.R. title number
  2. C.F.R. (The Bluebook's abbreviation for the Code of Federal Regulations)
  3. Section symbol and specific section cited
  4. Date of code edition cited

For example, here is how you would cite a federal regulation that prescribes rules for pets in National Parks in the United States:

36 C.F.R. § 2.15 (2017)

For state regulations, follow the citation format provided for the state in Table 1.

Books and Reports

Rule 15 covers how to cite books, reports, and other non-periodic materials, such as encyclopedias.

A basic citation to a book includes the following six elements:

  1. Volume number (for multivolume works)
  2. Author's full name as it appears on the title page
  3. Title of the book (italicized or underlined)
  4. Page, section, or paragraph cited
  5. Edition (for works with multiple editions)
  6. Year of publication

For example, here is a citation to a section in a well-known treatise on federal procedure:

9C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2552 (3d ed. 2008)

Citations to books vary based on the features of a particular publication. For example, the format is slightly different if a book has an editor rather than an author (Rule 15.2). Be sure to carefully review the publication and consult Rule 15 in order to cite it correctly. Additionally, the typeface used for books is different in academic writing. Rather than underlining the title, use small caps (Rule 15).

Tip: Rule 15.8 provides citation formats for several publications commonly used by first-year law students, such as Black's Law Dictionary and legal encyclopedias.

Law Reviews & Other Periodicals

Rule 16 covers how to cite law reviews and journals, newspapers, and other periodic materials.

A citation to a consecutively paginated* journal article includes the following six elements:

  1. Author's full name as it appears on the article
  2. Title of the article (underlined or italicized)
  3. Volume number
  4. Journal title abbreviation (see Table 13)
  5. First page of the article
  6. Date of publication

*A consecutively paginated journal is one in which the page numbers continue throughout a volume as opposed to starting at the number one for each issue.  Most law reviews and academic journals are consecutively paginated.

Here is an example of how to cite an article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology:

Dan L. Burk & Julie E. Cohen, Fair Use Infrastructure for Rights Management Systems, 15 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 41 (2001).

For more information on citing law journal articles, watch our Law Review Citations tutorial.

Tip: Rule 16.7.6 describes how to cite annotations in American Law Reports (A.L.R.)

Online Sources

Rule 18 covers when and how to cite online sources as well as other non-print sources (e.g., films). The rules for specific types of documents often also include a section on how to cite the online version.  For example, Rule 12.5 describes how to cite statutes on Westlaw and Lexis.

Citation formats to online sources are too varied to provide meaningful examples here, so be sure to consult Rule 18 carefully.

Citing to the Record

First-year law students will likely need to cite to depositions, interrogatories, or trial transcripts in the record in order to develop facts for briefs.  As a general rule of thumb, you must cite to the record for every factual assertion you make in a brief.

Bluepages Rule B17 covers how to cite to the record, and the abbreviations that are used in citing to the record are listed in Bluepages Table BT1 (e.g., brief = br.)

The key elements of a citation to the record are as follows:

  1. Name of the document (abbreviated according to BT1)
  2. Page number where the fact can be found in the document
  3. Date of the document, if required (see Rule B17.1.3)

For example, suppose you are asserting as a fact in your brief that a witness, Mr. Dames, saw a blue car speeding through the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW and New Jersey Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The source of this fact is Mr. Dames' deposition testimony.

Your citation for this fact would approximate the following example:

According to Mr. Dames, he was waiting to cross New Jersey Avenue NW outside the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library at approximately 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2009, when he saw a blue car traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour through the intersection of New Jersey Avenue NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW. Dames Dep. 12, Aug. 7, 2002.

Writing "at" before the page number is generally not required, although it is generally used when citing documents in an appellate record (see Rule B17.1.2).