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Bluebook Basics

A short primer on Bluebook citation formats for federal and state cases and statutes, as well as books, journals, and other secondary sources. N.B. Citation examples use non-academic citation format (i.e., the format for briefs and legal memoranda).

Federal Statute Examples

Citation of an entire federal statute as codified

Codified Federal Statute Citation Example

 

 

Citation of an individual provision of the U.S. Code

US Code Section Citation Example

 

 

State Statute Example

Virginia Code Citation Example

          

Citing Virginia Statutes

Rule B12.1.2 (page 19) & Rule 12 (page 120) & Table T1 for Virginia on p. 291

Table 1: cite to Va. Code Ann. (published by LexisNexis)

 

  • Va. Code Ann. § 13.1-697 (2011).

Use table T1 to find rules of other US jurisdictions. For example, to cite a North Carolina statute, find North Carolina in Table T1 and follow the requirements.

For additional examples, see the Basic Bluebooking--Statutes in Legal Documents tipsheet, provided courtesy of the Law Library at the Pace Law School.

Citing Federal Statutes

Rule B12 (page 19) & Rule 12 (page 120) & Table T1 (Federal Judicial and Legislative Materials) (page 227)

Official Code:
   United States Code (U.S.C.)
   Cite to the official code whenever possible.
  • 18 U.S.C. § 231 (2006).
Unofficial Code:
   United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) published by West
   United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) published by Lexis
  • 18 U.S.C.A. § 231 (West 2009).
  • 18 U.S.C.S. § 231 (LexisNexis 2009).

For additional examples, see the Basic Bluebooking--Statutes in Legal Documents tipsheet, provided courtesy of the Law Library at the Pace Law School.

Citing Constitutions

Rule B11 (page 18) & Rule 11 (page 119) & Table T16 (Subdivisions) (page 328)

Consult table T16 for abbreviations of document subdivisions. Current constitutional provisions are cited without a date. 

Federal Constitution

  • U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 2.
  • U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 2.
  • U.S. Const. pmbl.

State Constitution

  • La. Const. art. X, pt. IV.
  • N.M. Const. art. IV, § 7.
  • Va. Const. art. I, § 10.

For additional examples, see the Basic Bluebooking--Statutes in Legal Documents tipsheet, provided courtesy of the Law Library at the Pace Law School.

Rules of Evidence and Procedure

Rule 12.9.3 on p. 130

Consult Rule 12.9.3 for citation of rules of evidence and procedure.  Follow Rule 12.9.3 in abbreviating such rules, and cite current rules without a date:

  • Fed. R. Civ. P. 11.
  • 1st Cir. R. 6(a).
  •  Va. R. Evid. 2:403.

What Date Do I Cite for a Statute?

Bluebook rule 12.3.2 (page 125) does not require a date when citing to either official or unofficial FEDERAL CODE.

When citing to a STATE CODE, or requires year of print edition, in the following order of preference:

  • Date on spine, or
  • Year that appears on the title page, or
  • Latest copyright year

      * This date usually DIFFERS from the one on Westlaw, Lexis, and BLaw

Short Form Citation for Statutes and Constitutions

Rules B12.2 (page 21) & 12.10 (page 133) address short form citation of statutes (federal and state). Look at the examples listed in the Bluebook.

Rule 4 (page 79) addresses the use of id. and supra.

N.B.: Do not use a short citation form other than id. for constitutions.