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Bluebook Guide

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

State Statutory Codes

Like federal statutes, state statutes may be published in both an official code and an unofficial code, and The Bluebook requires you to cite to the official code, if possible (Rule 12.2.1).  

Table 1 provides a list of statutory codes for each state and indicates which is the official/preferred code to cite as well as the abbreviations for each code.  In Virginia, for example, Table 1 lists the official/preferred statutory code as Code of Virginia 1950 Annotated and the unofficial code as West's Annotated Code of Virginia.

Citing State Statutes

The citation format for state statutory codes is similar to federal statutes, but it varies by state. Table 1 provides the citation format for a particular state's statutory code. 

In Virginia, for example, a citation to a statute in the Code of Virginia 1950 Annotated has the following three elements:

  1. Va. Code Ann. (abbreviation for the code in Table 1)
  2. Section number (x-x) preceded by a section symbol (§) and a space
  3. Year of the code*

Therefore, a citation to a statute in this code, would be formatted as follows:

Va. Code Ann. § x-x (year)

*As with federal statutory codes, the date in the citation is the year the statutory code was published, as it appears on the spine of the volume, the title page, or the copyright page, in that order of preference (Rule 12.3.2).  It is not the date the statute was enacted or last amended.

Supplements and Pocket Parts

Like federal statutory codes, state statutory codes in print are updated with supplements or pocket parts, and the same rule (Rule 12.3.1(e)) applies to citing material in the supplements or pocket parts of state statutory codes.  For more information, see "Supplements and Pocket Parts" in the section of this guide on Federal Statutes.