Legal Material Based Bluebook Citations

Learning bluebook citations is of great advantage for students particularly those who are studying law. Recent research has indicated that almost 30 percent of students struggle with this citation more than other citation formats.

It’s a distinctive citation system that helps bring professionalism and consistency to all legal paperwork. Therefore, students need to understand bluebook formatting and citation style well.

Key Differences Between Bluebook Citations and Other Common Styles






Social Sciences



In-text Citations

In-text Citations

In-text Citations

In-text Citations



Not Required


Author last name, first name

Author’s last name, first initial 

Author’s last name first name 

Author’s last name first name

Publication Year

Publication Year 

Publication Year

Publication Year

Title format in Italics

Title format in Italics

Title format in Italics

Title format in Italics

Place of Publication Optional 

Place of Publication Required 

Place of Publication Required

Place of Publication Required

Why Students Should Learn Bluebook Formatting?

Such a citation style’ is very important to learn for students engaged in a legal field. The good know-how of this writing style will enable them to write and research legal documents accurately and professionally. Learning such a style means, students are learning the important rules of legal writing.

Bluebook citations might be overwhelming but being a law student, the author has gone through these challenges himself. I believe that learning this citation style is like knowing the secret language that lawyers or legal students would understand well. Of course, it’s a challenge at first to be a master of this but trust me with time and practice, you would do it well.

Challenges of Learning the Bluebook Citations

Since we are guiding students about the rules of such a writing style today, but it wasn’t that simple for us at first. These are the three challenges a student may have to overcome while learning such a citation:

  1. Getting familiar with the rules and exceptions of Bluebook because of its detailed nature.

  2. Applying citations across different formats is also a challenge to overcome for students.

  3. Maintaining the accuracy and highlighting the importance is a continuous challenge.

How to Overcome These Challenges?

Now we are sharing all the methods below so you can find answers to all the problems one by one. Wether it’s rules criteria of any bluebook citation case or a particular example of bluebook citation along the way.

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Bluebook Citation Format

Bluebook was first published in 1926 as an eight-page booklet for the Harvard School of Law, and now it’s present in a three-volume manual to be used by law students and professionals associated with this field all over the United States.

The primary purpose of the bluebook citation system is to enable the reader to find the cited source swiftly. It is used in legal writing, letters to authorities, statements of judges, writings by lawyers, and reports on governmental affairs.

This is a legal citation format system that works perfectly to credit the original source creator. Students are more encouraged to learn bluebook citations because it’s a necessary requirement for university dissertations and paperwork by professionals. Same like, when in high school students learn how to write s scientific essay well.

Suppose you are a student who is planning to join law school or you are already enrolled. In that case, bluebook citations should be the first thing to master because you will have to follow them in your assignments and documents throughout your academic years at law school. Let’s take a look at the bluebook citation format.

Citing a Book

When you cite a book in bluebook format, you need to start with the name of the author, the title of the book italicized or underlined, the page number from where you cited information, the addition of the book and the book publishing date. The format will be the same for a book that two or more authors write.


Author’s name, Book Title, Page Number(Edition and Date of Book Publishing).

Example of bluebook citation for book

Linda H. Edwards, Legal Analysis Report 18 (4th ed. 2016).


Citing A Case

Assignments and other documentation in the law school may require you to get help from a previous legal case in order to bring clarity to your subject. To cite a case, start with the last name of the party and then place v. to show whom the first party is fighting against. Either italicize or underline the names of the parties.

Then comes the name of the second party. Put a comma after it and add the reporter volume number followed by the reporter abbreviation. Then cite the first page of the case followed by the specific page you extracted information from. End it with the name of the final decision of the case.


Name of the first party v. name of the second party., Reporter Volume Number Followed by Reporter Abbreviation First page of the case, the page you used information from (Date of the decision).

Example of Bluebook citation case:

Richards v. Star Corporation.,278 G.Y.M 2d 264, 265 (Sup. Ct. 1996).

Citing a Law Review Article

Sometimes you will need to use an article to support your main argument. If you are including a law review article in your work, you need to cite it according to the following bluebook format.


Name of the author, The title of the article underlined or italicized, volume number of the law review followed by an abbreviation of the law review and the first page of the article, the page you extracted information from, (Date of the publication).

Legal Citation Example of Article

Jones M. Richard, The Rules of Law, 56 U.Song. L. Rev. 166, 168(1986).

Citing the Holy Bible

If you are assigned an assignment where you must add verses from the holy bible, you need to cite that according to the Bluebook citation format. You need to add the entire verse with the version of the bible in parenthesis.


Verse in quotation marks. Chapter Followed by page number (Version).


“Seek the Lord and his strength: seek his presence continually.” Chronicles 16:11(King James)

Citing An Online Source

Bluebook citations have a distinctive format if you have used information from an online source like a website or blog.


Name of the Author, underlined or Italicized Title of the Specific page you used, the title of the website’s main page (the date and time when you accessed the website), and the URL of the website.


Eris Phornt, More on Section 7 of the Torture Convention, The Volkov Conspiracy (Jan. 29, 2009, 11:02 AM), https:// URL of the website

On Important Note

One of the significant differences between the Bluebook essay citation system and other formatting styles is the interchanging use of Italics font style and underlying feature. Bluebook citations maintain consistency with the titles and names of the sources, whether it’s a website, a book, an article, a law review, or any other source. But you need to be very keen about these two things;

  • If you choose to italicize, your whole document will follow the same pattern in the references.

  • If you are underlining the titles, you must keep the entire document consistent. Only do one or the other throughout the document.


Still confused?

As the matter of fact, most of the students rely on a professional essay writing service to learn this citation style. Of course, it’s a better option to get familiar with the rules and regulations of Bluebook well.


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The Bluebook citation system is a necessary requirement for documents, statements, and reports in the field of law. The primary purpose of bluebook essay citations is to make it easy for the reader to locate the cited source. It along with legal citation example might look intimidating at first but after understanding the essential elements of it, it gets more accessible and more handy.


Bluebook citation is a formatting system that aims to bring consistency in all documents of a legal nature and encourage swift locating of cited sources. It's a style manual that guides students and professionals to follow the standard American format for legal documentation. Most of the country's law journals, law schools, court documents, and government affairs reports follow the bluebook citation format.

Most of the reputed institutions around the world accept blue book citations, including the law journals at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

Rule five of Bluebook citation says that if you haven't cited a source within the past five footnotes in short form, you will need to mention the source in its long form.

Footnotes in bluebook citations have different formats based on what they aim to explain within the context of the document. Bluebook citation systems have different formats for law review footnotes, brief information footnotes, court documents footnotes and legal memos.

Yes, it had a format for Bibliography that should include all secondary sources cited in the paper in alphabetical order. The referencing style in the Bibliography will be the same as the referencing in the footnotes except for the difference in the formatting of the author's name.

The Bluebook citation system has different rules for different types of citations. According to Bluebook, any quotation that contains 50 words or longer must be formatted as a block quote. It helps in separating and differentiating the block quotes from the rest of the text in your paper. 

Block quotes help catch the reader's attention and put emphasis on what the quote says. The name of the person to whom that quote belongs will be added right after the quote in quotation marks. If possible, add the year or the occasion when that person spoke or wrote that quote.

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