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Bluebook Citations: Weird Bluebook Rules

Guide to basic legal citations to the 20th ed. of The Bluebook.

Why Weird Rules?

Generally, citation rules are all a bit weird since the aim is to represent a resource in as small a space as possible. Hopefully, we are communicating with others who speak our "citation language." The Bluebook is not comprehensive for citing laws everywhere. For the most part, when one begins to cite uncommon resources or laws that are far afield of the usual statutes, cases, and regulations in the United States, the rules aren't specific as to how to do it properly. You must then make some analogies from your resource to a known resource to create a viable citation. Sometimes you may need to consult with a law librarian or others who are knowledgeable about your resource because sometimes "it takes a village" to come up with a viable citation.

Know These Rules...or Else

Citations are to the 20th edition of The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation.

Weird Rule #1 - State Abbreviations

NEVER use the two character postal abbreviations for states.  Look up the abbreviation for the state in Table 10.1, Geographical Terms, U.S. states, cities, and territories.  They use the old style state abbreviations up to four characters in length.

Weird Rule #2 - Pincites and the Word "at"

NEVER use "at" before a section (§) or paragraph (¶) symbolWeird Rule #3 stems from pinciting in Short Form Citations (B4, R4).  The word "at" precedes the pincite page number, but Rule 3.3 advises you to never use "at" before a section or paragraph symbol.

CORRECT                                                                           INCORRECT

Id. § 7.                                                                                    Id. at § 7.
pt. 3, § 4, at 15.                                                                     pt. 3, at § 4, 15.
¶ 5.06, at 5-31 to -32                                                            at ¶ 5.06

Weird Rule #3 - Supra and Hereinafter

Supra and hereinafter have special rules for their use.  They are limited to references to

  • legislative hearings,
  • court filings,
  • books,
  • pamphlets,
  • reports,
  • unpublished materials,
  • nonprint resources,
  • periodicals,
  • services,
  • treaties and international agreements,
  • regulations,
  • directives, and
  • decisions of intergovernmental organizations. 

You must not use "supra" or "hereinafter" to refer to

  • cases,
  • legislative materials (other than hearings),
  • restatements,
  • model codes, or
  • regulations.

LOOK UP Rule 4.2 BEFORE USING either term.

Weird Rule #4 - Id.

Id. has its own rules.  LOOK UP Rule 4.1.

  1. The period at the end of Id. is always italicized.
  2. Id. cannot be used for internal cross references.  Use supra or infra according to R3.5.  Supra refers to material that has already appeared in the document and it has its own rule at 4.2(a).  Infra refers to material that appears later in the document, but never for books (see R15.10).
  3. Id. can only be used when the immediately preceding citation contains only one authority.  This is to avoid confusion.
  4. When using Id., whatever explanatory information is contained in a preceding parenthetical is ignored in the Id. citation.