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The Indigo Book: A Manual of Legal Citation

The Indigo Book: A Manual of Legal Citation is the preferred resource for Bluebook legal citation at Rasmussen College. The Indigo Book is an open and compatible implementation of a Uniform System of Citation.

Why is it Called Bluebooking?

  • Bluebook formatting is a uniform system of citation for legal text.  The process of editing legal text to conform to these standards is sometimes referred to as “bluebooking.” 
  • The bluebook method is the most widely used legal citation system in the United States.  This method is taught and used at the majority of U.S. Law Schools, and used in a majority of U.S. federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court’s own unique citation style is based off of the bluebook method. While many state courts have their own citation rules, they typically are modifications or customizations of the bluebook method as well.

The History of the Bluebook Method

  • The bluebook method of citation gained its name from a manual aptly named “The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citations.”  However, the bluebook method is taught and illustrated in numerous manuals, including “The Indigo Book.” 
  • The Indigo Book is a free implementation of the bluebook method, and is the preferred source for paralegal students at Rasmussen College.

Introduction to Basic Legal Citation 

For many years, the authoritative reference work on “legal citation” was a manual written and published by a small group of law reviews. Known by the color of its cover, The Bluebook was the codification of professional norms that introduced generations of law students to “legal citation.” So completely do many academics, lawyers, and judges identify the process with that book they may refer to putting citations in proper form as “Bluebooking” or ask a law student or graduate whether she knows how to “Bluebook.” For this and more information on the history of Bluebooking, refer to  "Introduction to Basic Legal Citation" by Peter W. Martin. Peter W. Martin, Introduction to Basic Legal Citation, (2017), https://www.law.cornell.edu/citation/

Cases

  1. R11.1.Elements of a full citation. When providing a full citation to a case, you should generally include the following:
    1. case name;
    2. volume number, reporter, first page;
    3. pincite (the exact page number you are referring to, if necessary);
    4. court, year (see special instructions below for pending and unreported cases);
    5. explanatory parenthetical (if necessary);
    6. prior or subsequent history of the case (if any).

    Examples:

    • Leonard v. Pepsico, Inc., 88 F. Supp. 2d 116, 127 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (“Plaintiff’s understanding of the commercial as an offer must also be rejected because the Court finds that no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier Jet.”), aff’d, 210 F.3d 88 (2d Cir. 2000).
    • Toolson v. N.Y. Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356 (1953) (per curiam) (affirming baseball’s exemption from the scope of federal antitrust laws).

Federal Statutes

  1. R16.1.1.full citation to a federal statute includes three things: (1) the official name of the statute; (2) the published source where the act may be found; and (3) indication of either (i) the source publication date or (ii) the year the statute was passed.
  2. R16.1.2.U.S. Code: For citations to the U.S. Code (the preferred citation): <Name of Statute [optional]><title> U.S.C. § <section number> <(year published)>.
    1. The U.S.C. is codified once every six years. Therefore, citations to the U.S.C. should be to the appropriate codifying year (e.g., 2000, 2006, 2012). Cite the most recent edition that includes the version of the statute being cited.
    2. Supplements: If you are citing to a statute that may have been amended after the most recent official codification, be sure to consult the supplements, which are published each year between codifications and are cumulative.

    Examples:

    • Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 387 (2012).
    • Lanham (Trademark) Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051-1141n (2012).
    • Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. § 223 (2012 & Supp. I 2013).

Books

R28. Full Citation for Books & Non-Periodicals

A full citation to a book or other non-periodical is made up of the following elements:

  1. Volume number (if there is more than one volume).
  2. Names of the authors, as listed on the publication.
    • For two authors, list in the same order and use an “&.”
    • For more than two authors, use an “et al.” after the first name and stop there. (If you’re bored, feel free to list out all the authors with an “&” before the last.)
    • Use titles that follow an author’s name (Sr.) but not titles that precede them (Hon.)
  3. Italicized title of the publication, capitalized as necessary.
    • For law review articles, use small caps for both the title and author, and do not italicize the title.
  4. The exact page number you are referring to. If you are citing a work organized using sections or paragraphs, use those instead, adding a page number only if helpful.
  5. Year of publication, name of editor or translator (if applicable), edition (if more than one), all in parentheses.
    • If listing an editor or a translator, then follow the name with ed., or trans., respectively. Include that comma before the year of publication.
    • Cite the most recent edition, unless you have a really good (read: substantive) reason for citing older.

Examples:

  • Marc A. Franklin et al., Mass Media Law Cases and Materials 472 (8th ed. 2011).
  • 1 Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 1.01[B][1][a] at 1–14–15 (2011).
  • Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gregory Rabassa trans., Harper & Row 2003) (1967).
  • Roger Angell, This Old Man, in The Best American Essays 2015 (Ariel Levy & Robert Atwan eds.,2015).

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Tip:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to seek a tutor’s help.
    • Don’t let the issue compound and become an even bigger issue.
    • Use tutoring early and often.

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Legal Citations in Bluebook Style

Bluebook Sample Paper

Important Note: 

If you use a website (for example your state's supreme court website) to find rules or statutes, you should cite to the statute, not the website containing the statute, just as you would cite to the statute as opposed to Lexis Advance if you search through Lexis Advance.

R32. General Principles for Internet Sources

  1. R32.1.When an authenticated, official, or exact copy of a document is available online, cite as if to the equivalent print source (i.e., URL information should not be included).
    • Exact copy: unaltered online reproduction of the entirety of a printed source, including pagination.
    • Official copy: version of document designated “official” by a federal, state, or local government.
    • Authenticated copy: source that uses some authenticating tool, such as a digital signature. This is generally the preferred version.
  2. R32.2.For sources that are available in a non-internet source, append the URL to the end of the citation if doing so would make accessing the source significantly easier.
  3. R32.3.For Internet sources that have the characteristics of a print source, cite as if you were citing the print source, and append the URL to the end of the citation. Internet sources have the characteristics of a print source if the source has all the information needed to cite it according to another rule and the source has a fixed, permanent pagination (such as a PDF).
  4. R32.4.For cites directly to webpages and other Internet sources, follow the formula in Rule 33, below.

R33. Basic Formula for Internet Sources

Citations to Internet sources follow this form: <Author Name><Title of Website Page><Main Website Title><pincite> <(Date & Time Accessed)><URL>.

  1. R33.1.Author Name(s)
    1. R33.1.1.Actual authors: When available, use the name(s) of the actual authors(s) of the source.
    2. R33.1.2.Institutional authors: When the name of the actual author is unavailable, use the name of the institution associated with the source if one is clearly apparent.
      • Institutional authors should be omitted if the website’s title makes the domain’s owner clear.
      • Institutional authors should be abbreviated (see Table T11 and Table T12 for abbreviations).
    3. R33.1.3.Forum authors: For web posts and comments, use the actual name of the post author, or the username of the post author if the actual name is not available.
      • For comments, the author of the comment should be included if available, but the author of the original post need not be cited.
    4. R33.1.4.If the name of the author is unavailable in each of the above forms, it may be omitted from the basic formula.
  2. R33.2.Title of Specific Website Page
    1. R33.2.1.Include the particular cited page within the website. This title should be based on either the title bar or the heading of that page as viewed in the browser.
    2. R33.2.2.The included title should be informative but not unduly long, if possible.
    3. R33.2.3.Include the title of certain pages linked from main website when relevant, including postings, comments, and titles of subheadings (in italics). Where relevant, as in comments, subheadings should indicate their relationship to the page to which they are responsive.
    4. R33.2.4.Descriptive titles (not italicized) may also be used where page headings alone are not clear.
      • Example: Parker Higgins & Sarah Jeong, Archive of 5 Useful Articles Newsletter, 5 Useful Articles, https://tinyletter.com/5ua (last visited March 2, 2015).
  3. R33.3.Main Website Title
    1. R33.3.1.Include the domain name/ homepage where the citation may be found.
    2. R33.3.2.Title should be abbreviated (see Table T12, Table T15, and Table T18 for abbreviations).
  1. R33.4.Pincite
    1. R33.4.1.Include when an electronic document preserves the pagination of a printed version. Cite to pages as they would appear on the document if printed.
  2. R33.5.Date & Time
    1. R33.5.1.Omit time (i) if the source is not updated throughout the day or (ii) if there is no time listed
    2. R33.5.2.If no date is provided cite to the last modified or last updated date for the URL, or, if none of the above are provided, use the last visited date. Any date cited in one of these three formats should be placed after the URL in the citation.
  3. R33.6.URL
    1. R33.6.1.Cite in its entirety unless the URL is especially long or unwieldy.
    2. R33.6.2.If the URL is too long and unwieldy, cite just to the root URL and include a parenthetical directing the user to the specific material cited.
    3. R33.6.3.When helpful, include URL to an archived version of the webpage in brackets
    4. R33.6.4.When a website is served by multiple URLs, use the primary one.

R34. Short Form Citations for Internet Sources

Id. and supra can be used, together with the author name, as a short form citation following the full citation of an Internet source. Note: if no author is provided, use the title of the source (see section [NUMBER], above).

Examples:

R30. Full Citation for Journals, Magazines & Newspaper Articles

  1. R30.1.Citations to consecutively paginated journals (that is, journals in which page numbering is continued from the last issue) take the following form: <Author’s Name(s)><Italicized Title of the Article><volume number, if applicable> <Name of Publication, abbreviated> <page number of first page of article cited><pincite, if citing to specific point> <(year published)>.
    • Example: Liz Brown, Bridging The Gap: Improving Intellectual Property Protection for the Look and Feel of Websites, 3 N.Y.U. J. Intell. Prop. & Ent. L. 310, 351 (2014).
  2. R30.2.Citations to journals and magazines with standard pagination (that is, where pagination re-starts for every issue) take the following form: <Author’s Name(s)><Italicized Title of the Article><Name of Publication, abbreviated><full date of publication>, at <page number of first page of article cited>. You may add a pincite to the end of the citation, if you are citing to a particular point in the article, in the following form: , <pincite>.
    • Example: Jack Dickey, The Power of Taylor Swift, Time, Nov. 24, 2014, at 13, 17.
  3. R30.3.

    Citations to material written by students in law journals take the following form: <Author’s Name(s), if signed with more than initials><Designation of Piece><Italicized Title of the Article><volume number, if applicable> <Name of Publication, abbreviated> <page number of first page of article cited><pincite, if citing to specific point> <(year published)>.

    Examples:

    • Amanda Levendowski, Note, Using Copyright to Combat Revenge Porn, 3 N.Y.U. J. Intell. Prop. & Ent. L. 422 (2014).
    • Victoria Nemiah, Note, License and Registration, Please: Using Copyright “Conditions” To Protect Free/Open Source Software, 3 N.Y.U. J. Intell. Prop. & Ent. L. 358, 361 (2014).
    • Comment, Law and Lawns: Mandatory Water Restrictions and Substantive Due Process, 7 Calif. L. Rev. 138 (1972).
  4. R30.4.

    Citations to newspaper articles take the following form: <Author’s Name(s), if signed><Italicized Title of the Article><Name of Publication, abbreviated><full date of publication>, at <number of first page of article>.

    Examples:

    • Vikas Bajaj, Rules for the Marijuana Market, N.Y. Times, Aug. 5, 2014, at A20.
    • Charlie Savage, U.N. Commission Presses U.S. on Torture, N.Y. Times, Nov. 14, 2014, at A6.
    • Peter Baker & Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Obama, Down But Not Out, Presses Ahead, N.Y. Times, Nov. 14, 2014, at A1.

R31. Short Form Citation for Journals, Magazines & Newspaper Articles

If you have already cited a work from a periodical in full . . .

  1. R31.1.Use “id.” to avoid placing two full citations that are exactly the same right next to each other.
    • Example: The 24-year-old pop star spoke with TIME this fall as she readied for the release of her new album and again as she watched its record reception. Jack Dickey, The Power of Taylor Swift, Time, Nov. 24, 2014, at 13. ‘Other women who are killing it should motivate you,’ she says. Id.
  2. R31.2.Use “supra” when you’ve used the full citation before, but it’s not right next to the sentence you will provide the citation for now. Use a shortened title if you cite to multiple sources from the same author.
    • Example: Brown, Bridging The Gap, supra, at 320.

Important Note: 

Below are examples of pincites using the case of Terry v. Ohio. The section on this information in The Indigo Book is Rule 15 for cases.  This short form would also be used for statutes, books, journals, etc., and is included in rules 26, 29, 31 and 34. 

FAQhttps://rasmussen.libanswers.com/faq/283203

 

If you’re referring to a citation generally, or for background support (or including it in a reference page) you would not use a pinpoint citation. The first time a case is mentioned in the text, include a full citation as shown here:

  • Example: In Terry v. Ohio, the court held that stop and frisks do not violate the Constitution under certain circumstances. 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

OR

  • Example: In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the court held that stop and frisks do not violate the Constitution under certain circumstances.

However, if you are directing your reader to a specific quotation or holding, you would point to the pinpoint in that case by including a comma and the pinpoint location after the first page of the reporter number. 

  • Example: The court concluded “there must be a narrowly drawn authority to permit a reasonable search for weapons for the protection of the police officer, where he has reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual, regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest the individual for a crime.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 27 (1968).

If you have already cited to the case, you would include only the first name, followed by the volume and reporter, and the specific pinpoint. For example:

  • Example: The court concluded “there must be a narrowly drawn authority to permit a reasonable search for weapons for the protection of the police officer, where he has reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual, regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest the individual for a crime.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. at 27.

If you are citing to the same case referenced in the immediately preceding citation, use id. as the short form citation. If you are referring to the immediately preceding case, but to a different page, use id.  at pincite.

  • Example: The court concluded “there must be a narrowly drawn authority to permit a reasonable search for weapons for the protection of the police officer, where he has reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual, regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest the individual for a crime.” Id. at 27.

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, developed by the American Bar Association's Center for Professional Responsibility, is a model for ethical rules governing lawyers.  These rules have been adopted by most states.

The format for citing the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct in the Bluebook style is:

            Model Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. # (Year).

Example:

          Model Rules of Prof'l. Conduct R. 4.1 (2013).

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