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Legal Writing: Legal Citation


Choosing a Paper Topic
     In Introduction
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     Hot Legal Topics
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Conducting a Preemption Check
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Avoiding Plagiarism
     Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
     Best Practices for Avoiding Plagiarism
     Resources for More Information

Legal Citation
    What is the Bluebook?
    Understanding Bluebook Citations
    Law Reviews and Journals


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Citation Literacy (Alexa Z. Chew, Arkansas Law Review, 2018)
Citations in legal documents convey information about the cited authority, such as the degree of influence it has over subsequent cases. But many law students receive insufficient instruction in how to read these important components, as citation sentences tend to be excised from all but a small part of their first-year writing courses.

Shedding the Uniform: Beyond A “Uniform System of Citation” to a More Efficient Fit (Susie Salmon, Marquette Law Review, 2016)
Technology promises a new, more cost-effective alternative to the current prevailing citation systems, which appear to be moving toward obsolescence. Schools, lawyers, and courts should embrace time- and cost-saving online resources that provide clear indications of the source of legal matters and their weight.


The Bluebook, formally titled The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, is the style manual for citing to legal documents within the United States.  The Bluebook is compiled by the editors of the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal.

The Law Library has 4 copies of the current edition on reserve (and several of the previous edition in the Law Library Stacks).  These can be checked out for in-library use at the Circulation Desk. 


Below are resources designed to help you understand and format Bluebook citations. However, keep in mind that the Bluebook can confuse even the most sophisticated software.

CALI eBook on Citation
Students from Cornell Legal Information Institute have produced a short eBook that explains legal citations and is similar to a digital version of the Bluebook and ALWD, with hyperlinks and cross-references.

In Westlaw you can simply highlight text with your cursor and a small menu will pop-up allowing you to “copy with reference” to add the highlighted portion and a citation to your clipboard.  Westlaw allows you to export different formats, so be sure to select the correct option.

Westlaw’s Drafting Assistant allows the user to upload a document (.pdf, .docx, .rtf) and then an algorithm will scan the document and evaluate the references.  The user is then prompted to accept or deny suggested improvements to each citation (similar to Track Changes in MS Word).  Note: You can select local court rules when you use this software.

Lexis Advance
Lexis Advance enables users to highlight and copy-paste text with a citation (also in different formats like Westlaw).  In addition, Lexis Advance has a module called the Interactive Citation Workstation which allows you to practice Bluebook citation for many resources.

Shepard’s BriefCheck functions similar to Westlaw’s Drafting Assistant, except it leads the user through a series of prompts and then delivers the user a report of the types of errors found.

LexisAdvance MS Office Plugin is an add-on for MS Word that allows integration of certain portions of the LexisAdv platform directly into MS Word.  You will have to download a (200MB) desktop app and login using your LexisAdv credentials.

Citeus Legalus
Citeus Legalus is a free online tool allowing users to input individual pieces of information and then generating a citation. Other, similar programs limit the number of citations or require payment. 

Cornell’s Legal Information Institute
If you’re looking for a quick reference guide to legal citations, Cornell’s Legal Information Institute has a useful summary guide.


The Bluebook Uncovered (Dionne E. Anthon, 2015)
Perfect for law students preparing for the All-Journal Write-on Exam or anyone trying to improve their citation sentences and footnotes, this slim volume features a practical rearrangement of Bluebook topics in descending importance.

Legal Citation in a Nutshell (Larry L. Teply, 2016)
Highlighting the key issues of legal citation and the differences between Bluebook and ALWD conventions of legal citation, either of which writers might apply depending in different jurisdictions.

Understanding and Mastering the Bluebook (Linda J. Barris, 2015)
A slimmer, friendlier guide to the most relevant rules in the Bluebook, featuring charts highlighting citation challenges, examples of how to apply the rules, and breakdowns of each component of a citation clause.