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An Introduction to The Bluebook


This section covers selected requirements in Rule 12, which governs citations to statutes, including citations to official/unofficial codes (statutes arranged by subject) and session laws (statutes arranged chronologically in order of enactment). 

Rule 12.2.1 prefers, but does not require, citation of statutes currently in force to current official codes (such as the United States Code), "if available". If such citation is not possible, you may cite to (in order of preference): unofficial codes (such as the United States Code Annotated or United States Code Service), official session laws, privately published session laws, commercial electronic databases, looseleaf services, internet sources, or a newspaper.

Rule 12.3 clarifies citing to official vs. unofficial federal and state codes. Again, citing to official codes is preferable, "if available", but is not required. Consult Table T1.3 for a list of official and unofficial state codes.

Rule 12.3.2, "Year of Code", does not require listing a date for the federal code. (This is a major change from the 20th edition of The Bluebook.) The rule provides guidelines for listing the year for a state code. 

Rule 12.5(a) covers citing to statutes in electronic databases. This rule requires including currency information for statutes.

  • In Westlaw, statute currency information is typically located at the bottom of the page.
  • In Lexis+, statute currency information is typically located at the top of the page, just below the main citation.

Rule 12.5(b) covers citing to statutes located on the internet or other online sources (part (b)). Whenever official state or municipal statutes or ordinances are published online, those versions may be cited.

Rule 12.10 governs short forms for statutes. 

Example statute citations:

Official United States Code (U.S.C.) in print

42 U.S.C. § 201.

Short form citation: 42 U.S.C. § 201 OR § 201. *See Rule 12.10(b) and (d).

Unofficial United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) in Westlaw

42 U.S.C.A. § 201 (Westlaw through Pub. L. No. 116-193). *See Rule 12.5(a). 

This statute had the following currency information in Westlaw as of Dec. 10, 2020:





Short form citation: 42 U.S.C.A. § 201 OR § 201. *See Rule 12.10(b).

California Labor Code in Lexis

CAL. LAB. CODE § 6352 (Deering, LEXIS through 2020 Sess.). *See Rule 12.5(a) and T1 (California).

This statute had the following currency information in Lexis as of Dec. 10, 2020:


Short form citation: LAB. § 6352. 

*See Rule 12.10(b) and T1.