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Legal Writing: Legal Citation


Choosing a Paper Topic
     In Introduction
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Conducting a Preemption Check
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Avoiding Plagiarism
     Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
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Legal Citation
    What is the Bluebook?
    Understanding Bluebook Citations
    Law Reviews and Journals

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The reference librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library are happy to help you find or navigate research resources. 

Librarians are available 9am-4pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-2pm on Friday by phone or by email.

Reference: (480) 965-7161
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Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law (COL) Students


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.

User's Guide to The Bluebook (Alan L. Dworsky)
This pamphlet, revised for the 21st Edition of The Bluebook, provides plain language interpretations of citation rules for practitioners (from the Bluepages) such as when and when not to underline words. It provides a brief overview of the rules in general, and goes into depth on commonly cited documents such as cases and statutes.

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

Lexis Brief Analysis invites users to upload their files and it extracts the key legal concepts that the documents address, makes recommendations for additional authority, identifies similar documents, and analyzes the citation history of all cited authority.

Shepard’s Brief Check 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.

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


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.