The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation 21st Edition, ISBN-13: 978-0578666150


The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation 21st Edition, ISBN-13: 978-0578666150

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  • Publisher: ‎ Claitors Pub Div; 21st edition (September 1, 2020)
  • Language : ‎ English
  • 365 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 0578666154
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0578666150

For more than eighty years, The Bluebook has provided authoritative guidance to legal citation for American students, professionals, and scholars.

The Bluebook: Uniform System of Citation, in its current 21st edition (2020), presents a guide for lawyers for constructing legal citations, covering the format of citations from a variety of legal sources, including court cases, statutes, books, periodicals, electronic media, and international documents. It is an essential tool for anyone engaged in writing legal documents.

For nearly 95 years, law students, lawyers, scholars, judges, and other legal professionals have relied on The Bluebook’s unique system of citation. Compiled by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal, The Bluebook remains the most widely used legal citation system in the United States. Today, it governs the style and formatting of various references and elements of a legal publication, including capitalization, italicization, quotations, abbreviations, and more.

The newest edition retains the same basic approach to legal citation established by its predecessors, though the layout has been updated to make the information easier to access. Some citation forms have been expanded, elaborated upon, or modified from previous editions to reflect the ever-expanding range of authorities used in legal writing and to respond to suggestions from the community.

Noteworthy Changes in the 21st Edition


• B6 now provides practitioners with the option of closing up abbreviations in reporter names to conserve the number of words used in court documents.
• Bluetable BT2 has been updated to reflect the current local citation rules in federal and state courts.


• Rule 1.4 no longer dictates an order of authorities within a signal. Instead, authorities should be ordered in a logical manner, with more relevant sources preceding less relevant sources.
• Rule 1.5(b) has been revised to clarify the placement of “hereinafter” and “last visited” parentheticals in citations to internet sources.
• Rule 3.3(d) has been added to govern citation to “flush” language and examples, such as those found in Treasury Regulations.
• Rule 9(a) has been revised to clarify the use of first names for judges.
• Rule 10.6.2 was added to bring The Bluebook into conformity with current U.S. Supreme Court practice regarding citations to stay or bail applications ruled on by a single justice.
• Rule 10.8.1(a) provides clearer guidance on citing to case docket numbers.
• Rule 12.3 has been changed to require citation to the official federal code “if available,” rather than “whenever possible.” This change is intended to facilitate citation to unofficial codes in online databases.
• Rule 12.3.2 no longer requires a date in citations to the federal code, whether official or unofficial.
• For state sources of law, Rule 12.5(b) now allows citation to online sources for official state and municipal statutes and ordinances whenever available online, rather than when only available online.
• Rule 17.2.2 was updated to better cite modern dissertations and theses.
• Rule 18 has been updated throughout to provide a consistent format for indicating a specific time in video and audio recordings.
• Rule 18.8 was added to provide guidance on citing photographs and illustrations.
• Rule 21 was updated to reflect the growing availability of online sources in international law.


• Table T1 has been revised to reflect the most current titles for the various statutory compilations, session laws, and administrative compilations and registers.
• Table T2 has been removed from the print version of The Bluebook and now resides exclusively online at, free of charge. Eleven jurisdictions have been updated and one new jurisdiction added.
• Table T6 now contains all words previously contained in tables T6 and T13.2, and its reach has been expanded to supply abbreviations for case names, institutional authors, and periodical titles.
• Table T13.1 has been renamed table T13, and it continues to supply abbreviations for common institutional names.
• Table T13.2 has been deleted due to its merger with table T6.
• Terms have been added to or modified in tables T6, T7, T10, T13, and T15 as appropriate.

Change in 2021 Printing: Citing Slavery

A law review article discussed the many current cases citing slavery cases as good law. Justin Simard, Citing Slavery, 72 Stan. L. Rev. 79 (2020). See Simard’s Citing Slavery Project, which has a database listing slavery cases and how they have been cited. In response to the author’s suggestion, the Bluebook editors added rule requiring a parenthetical when an enslaved person was a party or the case involved slavery. The change was made after the first (2020) printing of the Bluebook, so it is only in the online edition and printings 2021 and later. From the editors’ Noteworthy Changes to the 2021 Printing:

Rule 10.7.1(d) now covers slave cases. For cases involving an enslaved person as a party, use the parenthetical “(enslaved party).” For cases involving an enslaved person as the subject of a property or other legal dispute but named as a party to the suit, use the parenthetical “(enslaved person at issue).” For other cases involving enslaved persons, use an adequately-descriptive parenthetical.

• Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857) (enslaved party), superseded by constitutional amendment, U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

• Wall v. Wall, 30 Miss. 91 (1855) (enslaved person at issue).

See also David J.S. Ziff, Citation, Slavery, and the Law as Choice: Thoughts on Bluebook Rule 10.7.1(d), 101 N.C. L. Rev. F. 72 (2003)

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