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Legal Citation   Tags: alwd, bluebook, citation manual, legal citation  

Bluebook and ALWD Manual
Last Updated: May 5, 2016 URL: Print Guide

General Information Print Page

Purpose of Citations

"The central function of a legal citation is to allow the reader to efficiently locate the cited source."

Source: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds., 19th ed. 2010).

Additional Purposes:

1.  Helps the reader to find more information or to locate the work cited.

2.  Gives the writer credibility.  Is the work well researched?  Did you cite the critical authorities relevant to your issue?

3.  Helps the writer avoid plagiarism.  You must give credit to the creator of the information.  Conversely, you cannot claim credit for something you did not create.



What does not need citing?

Common knowledge

  • If you can find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources.
  • Information that the average adult will already know.  Example: humans normally have two arms and two legs. 
  • If the information can be easily found in general reference sources.
  • Examples: folklore, myths, urban legends, common sense observations (like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west), and historical events (but not historical documents).

Your opinions, your ideas and your work

  • Your own lived experiences, your observations, your own thoughts.
  • Your own artwork, photographs, video, audio, etc.  (…but you still must cite your previous written work).

Generally Accepted Facts

  • Examples: pollution is bad; writing is a process.



Legal Citation- in General

Cover Art
Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations - Mary Miles Prince
Call Number: Law Reference KF 246.B46 2009
ISBN: 9780837716251
Publication Date: 2009
A comprehensive list of abbreviations. Part I - Look up abbreviations to find the full title of the legal resources. Part II- is a reverse dictionary. Look up the resource title to find the citation abbreviation.

Cover Art
Prince's Dictionary of Legal Citations: a Reference Guide for Attorney's, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students - Mary Miles Prince
Call Number: Law Reference KF246 .P73 2011
ISBN: 0837739106
Publication Date: 2011
This guide lists citation forms with examples, organized by specific sources. It is a companion to The Bluebook and applies Bluebook rules to common legal authorities.

Cover Art
Legal Writing Citation in a Nutshell - Larry L. Teply
Call Number: Law Treatises KF245 .T46 2008
ISBN: 0314169385
* This book covers both Bluebook and ALWD

Newer edition available online.

Transitioning from ALWD to Bluebook


Transitioning from ALWD to Bluebook



All software products (including Lexis and Westlaw) make mistakes when converting to Bluebook format.  You must double check all citations.  Ultimately you are responsible for correctly writing the citation in Bluebook format, not the software.

Web Resources

  • Introduction to Basic Legal Citation
    Peter W. Martin (Cornell Law School) maintains this guide, which is keyed to the latest editions of the Bluebook and ALWD. "Focuses on the forms of citation used in professional practice rather than those used in journal publication."
  • Introduction to Basic Legal Citation
    Same guide as above by Peter W. Martin but in eBook format to download to iPad, Kindle, or PDF. "Focuses on the forms of citation used in professional practice rather than those used in journal publication."
  • Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations
  • The Indigo Book
    An open-source consensus of uniform legal citations.

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