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Introduction to Legal Citation

Guide to the Bluebook

How To Read A Legal Citation

The primary authority for legal citation, and abbreviations, in the United States is the Bluebook.  The Bluebook is a collaborative project by a handful of elite law schools.  It is used for all federal court documents and legal scholarship.  California has its own style manual for its state courts.

Court cases are often published by more than one publisher, so there can be more than one citation appearing after the name of the case.

Usually, the first citation given is to the official reports for a particular court, and is called the “official citation”. This is the publisher with which the court has contracted to publish cases.  Other publishers may produce sets of court cases as well. These are the "unofficial " or "parallel" citations. Generally, when a case is cited, both official and unofficial citations are used, since the writer cannot tell what set or reporters the reader may have.

In the Federal system, the official reporter for the Supreme Court is the United States Reports (or U.S.C). Unofficial reporters are the Supreme Court Reports (or S.Ct. ) or the Lawyer's Edition (L.Ed.).

In California, the official reporters for the California Supreme Court cases are published in the California Reports (1st - 4th series) and the Courts of Appeal cases in California Appellate Reports (1st - 4th series).

Reading a Legal Citation

Here is an example of the various components of a legal citation adhering to the Bluebook citation conventions.

Party Names

Volume Number

Bluebook Abbreviation for Publication

Pages or Section Number(s)

Brown v. Board of Education




Help with Bluebooking

Legal Abbreviations

  • A - Atlantic Reporter
  • A. 2d - Atlantic Reporter, Second series
  • A.L.R - American Law Reports
  • A.L.R. 2d - American Law Reports , Second Series
  • A.L.R. 3d - American Law Reports, Third Series
  • A.L.R. 4th - American Law Reports, Fourth Series
  • A.L.R. 5th - American Law Reports, Fifth Series
  • A.L.R. Fed - American Law Reports, Federal
  • Am. Jur - American Jurisprudence
  • Am. Jur. 2d - America Jurisprudence Second Series
  • C. or Cal. - California Reports
  • C.2d or Cal. 2d - California Reports, Second series
  • C. 3d or Cal. 3d - California Reports, Third series
  • C. 4th or Cal. 4th - California Reports, Fourth series
  • C.C.R. - California Code of Regulations
  • CEB - Continuing Eduacation of the Bar
  • C.F.R. - Code of Federal Regulations
  • C.J. - Corpus Juris
  • C.J.S. - Corpur Juris Secundum
  • CA or Cal. App - California Appellate Reports
  • CA2d or Cal. App.2d -California Appellate Reports Second series
  • CA3d or Cal. App.3d - California Appellate Reports Third series
  • CA4th or Cal. App.4th -California Appellate Reports Fourth series
  • Cal. Jur. - California Jurisprudence
  • Cal. Jur.2d - California Jurisprudence, Second series
  • Cal. Jur. 3d - California Jurisprudence, Third series
  • Cal. Rptr. - California Reporter (West’s)
  • Cal. Rptr. 2d - California Reporter Second Series
  • F. - Federal Reporter
  • F.2d - Federal Reporter, Second Series
  • F.R.D. - Federal Rules Decisions
  • F.Supp. - Federal Supplement
  • F.Supp. 2d - Federal Supplement 2d
  • L.Ed. - Lawyers’ Edition, U.S. Supreme Court Reports
  • L.Ed.2d - Layers’ Edition, U.S. Supreme Court Reports
  • N.E. & N.E.2d - Northeastern Reporter, First Series and Second Series
  • N.W. & N.W.2d - Northwestern Reporter, First Series and Second Series
  • P. & P.2d - Pacific Reporter, First Series and Second Series
  • S. & S2d- Southern Reporter, First Series and Second Series
  • S.E. & S.E.2d - Sourtheastern Reporter, First Series and Second Series
  • S.W. & S.W2d - Southwestern Reporter, First Series and Second Series
  • S.Ct. - Supreme Court Reports
  • U.S. - United States Reports
  • U.S.C. - United States Code
  • U.S.C.A. - United States Code Annotated
  • U.S.C.S. - United States Code Service