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An Introduction to The Bluebook


This guide provides an introduction to selected citation rules in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (21st ed.), and citation examples for students working on academic law journals. These examples are provided for instructional purposes only. You should always refer to The Bluebook itself and base your final citations on its rules and examples. The Bluebook's online Quick Style Guide provides additional suggestions on formatting commonly used sources. 

The reference librarians can help you identify relevant Bluebook rules or look for example citations. Find out how to contact us here.

Changes in the 21st Edition

The 21st edition of The Bluebook was released in summer 2020. The following resources discuss noteworthy updates in the 21st edition:

An updated 2021 printing was published in late January 2021 and makes additional changes to the 21st edition

Structure of The Bluebook

The Bluebook is divided into three main parts:

  • The Bluepages, in the front of the volume, provide rules on citing authority in non-academic legal documents.
  • The Whitepages, comprising the rest of the volume, provide rules on citing authority for academic law journals. Rules in the Bluepages often refer to the Whitepages. This LibGuide addresses content and requirements contained in the Whitepages.
  • Tables with detailed citation guidance for specific jurisdictions or types of materials, to be used alongside the citation rules.

The Bluebook provides several finding aids to locate rules or citation examples:

Quick Reference: Law Review Footnotes table  Inside of the front cover
Quick Reference: Court Documents and Legal Memoranda table  Inside of the back cover                                           
Index (find rules and page numbers by keyword) Back of the volume
Table of Contents (find major rules and tables) Back cover