The Bluebook: Short Guide on Bluebook Citation

The Bluebook is a set of legal citation guidelines and rules for referencing official documents developed in the United States. It is used in court proceedings, police reports, and official government documents by both law students and professionals. This method also applies to the citation of news coverage of governmental occurrences. Check out this guide from professional essay writing service GradeOffice to learn everything there is to know about Bluebook citations and how to use them.


  • What Is a Bluebook?
  • Where Is the Bluebook Applicable?
  • What Constitutes the Legal BlueBook?
  • Understanding Bibliography
  • Understanding Footnotes
  • Bluebook Citation Examples
  • Conclusion
  • Do you require someone to cite your paper?

What Is a Bluebook?

The Bluebook citation format is a source system that consists of a set of rules for referencing among law students and practitioners. In other words, it is the legal way of referring to legal scholars. Law professors at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania devised and agreed on the citation format.

It includes blue pages, which serve as rules, as well as a thesis about the references made by lawyers and law to students. The Bluebook, both online and in hard copy, illustrates a plethora of guidelines regarding the rules of referencing when producing legal writing. The first nine pages are general rules, the next ten pages discuss the required materials, and the last two pages state the rules for citing international law papers and elements.

There’s a lot more to the Bluebook. Check out our video guide for more information:

Where Is the Bluebook Applicable?

Law students, professional judges, lawyers, law enforcement agencies, and politicians are all subject to these guidelines. Bluebook is used to cite passages from legal writing, such as sources made by officials, judges, lawyers, authorities, and news coverage of applied governmental situations. In university dissertations and professional documents. As a result, learning to write in Bluebook legal citation is critical.

The independently-run Harvard Law Review organization, whose agenda is to produce and publish their journal, is managed by a small group of law students. Citations are included in each section of this journal using the Bluebook journal abbreviations. These journals contain a variety of block quotations from multiple authors as well as legal cases.

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What Constitutes the Legal Bluebook?

Front Cover:

  • Footnotes concerning peer reviews and legalization.

Table of Contents:

  • Blue-pages: These pages demonstrate the non-academic citation protocol for legal documents.
  • White Pages: The inverse is demonstrated by demonstrating the academic protocol for citing legal documents.
  • Tables containing general information about the Bluebook.


  • Outlines the guidelines and introduces legal document citation for writers and legal professionals.
  • Addresses the complex issues surrounding the proper method for legal citations.

Guidelines 1-9:

  • Outlines the current rules and procedures for citing legal documents.

Guidelines 10-19:

  • Specifies the instructions that govern how legal documents and materials from other countries are handled.

Guidelines 20-21:

  • Specifies the general guidelines for citing information about the law of other territories.

Lists T1 – T16:

  • Contains all of the general guidelines pertaining to orders 1-21.
  • Gives advice on legal citations and ground rules concerning authorities.
  • A list of Bluebook abbreviations is included.


  • Allows writers to quickly navigate through the various citation rules.

Back of the Bluebook:

  • Contains brief writing instructions as well as citations from court proceedings and historic legal documents in a non-academic referencing format.

Back Cover:

  • Contains a list of the book’s contents.

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Understanding Bibliography

Citations should be included in the bibliography at the end of a piece of writing, according to the Bluebook format. When it comes to the list, students and professionals must cover every citation they’ve made from A to Z. It is not necessary to include page numbers, and the line following the first should be indented. The author’s name can be written in a slightly larger font as an option.

Bibliography Illustration:
Full-Name – Elton, Gill. (Surname & First Name)

Understanding Footnotes

When it comes to academic papers in the field of law, footnotes should come after the information, not before it. Keep in mind to include each author’s full name in their normal order. It is also necessary to include your footnotes in numerical order and indented. Remember that footnotes should be placed at the bottom of the page. As the author, you may use semicolons to separate multiple legal citations within a footnote.

Sample of Footnote:
Footnotes, 1. Full-Name – Gill Elton. (In Normal Order)

Bluebook Citation Examples

When making a legal reference, please remember that there are numerous variations. It is critical to learn how to use various methods by consulting Bluebook citation examples. Before writing a legal paper, it is critical to understand all of the distinctions. Court proceedings (Party 1 vs. Party 2), for instance, are completely distinct from tabloids (Writer and Heading).

Court Proceedings

As the final result of a court proceeding, legal documents based on the judge’s orders are always produced. Courts also produce transcripts of all proceedings, as well as written letters and evidence analysis documents. There is indeed a particular way to reference materials of this type, according to Bluebook law. It is also necessary to include brief information in the footnotes, as shown below:


Defendant/Organzation| V. | Defendant/Organization | Correspondent Folio | (Occurrence Year) The State of Texas v. Ray Maxwell, 452 D. BVV. 3d 231 (J. Vast. 2018)


Correspondent Folio | Occurrence Year
452 D. BVW, 3d 231 (J. Vast. 2018)

Books Written by a Single or Multiple Authors

Books written by a single author are cited slightly differently than those written by two or more authors. The main distinction is that both names are stated at the beginning of the footnote. This method is only applicable to the works of a single author. Apart from that, the Bluebook book citation method differs in no way.

Remember that the publication’s topic must be included. The year is next, followed by the version. This rule applies to those who cite one or more scholars.


Writer, | Heading, | (Version and Year) Theresa May, Brexit, (1 ed. The Houses of Parliament, 2019)


Writer 1 and Writer 2, | Heading | (Version and Year) Theresa May and Donald Trump, The Relations Between the UK and US, (Ed 5, 2018)

Tabloids (Printed and Online)

Journalism plays an important role in informing the public about legal proceedings. It is critical to include the writer’s name, the topic of the article, the name of the paper, and the year of publication when citing printed or online newspapers. Depending on whether the tabloid is printed or online, it is followed by the foliate number or a URL address.


Writer, | Heading, | Company, | (publication year), | foliate number/webpage-address

Printed News Reports:

Casey Jones, The Extradition of Julian Assange, The Daily Express, 2019, Page 21-23

Online News Reports:

The Law Times, Anita Balakrishnan, Lawyer Wins Appeals in Lawsuit with Paralegal, 2019,

Legal Scholarly Texts

When citing legal passages from scholars and legislators, students must include the author’s name, article heading, volume number, the title of the journal, the title of the first page, and year of publication. It applies to statements made in official government documents as well as works by legal scholars, which is important to understand when writing a Bluebook citation law review article.


Writer, | Heading, | Volume, | Title of Journal, | Title of the Starting Foliot, | (Publication Year) James McPhillioton, The Death Penalty, #45, The Constitutional Method of Capital Punishment, 2017

Bluebook Website Citation

Those studying or practicing law may use a Bluebook website citation in their writing. For this type of Bluebook citation, there is a distinct method for writing the bibliography. Writers must include the topic, webpage, date of publication, URL address, and time of previous visit.


Heading, | Webpage, | Date of Publication, | URL Address, | Date of Previous Visit Tuesday Round-Up, Scotus Blog, Publication Date: 6/18/19,, Last Visited: 6/20/19


Finally, following the specific guidelines outlined in the Bluebook gives us the ability to write with legal citations. The standard citation method used by both practicing professionals and students permits the quotation of court cases, news articles, and statements made to local authorities. In other words, mastering this format gives you the opportunity to raise your GPA with better references. It is also extremely beneficial for future legal practice.

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