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Bluebook Citation for LLM Students

Provides Bluebook instructions and tips for LLM students.

Bluebook Citation: Introduction

This guide provides instructional materials and answers to questions about Bluebook citation. It is intended to assist Harvard Law School LLM students in finalizing their master's theses. However, the guide can help anyone who is writing a scholarly law paper, including JD students.

IMPORTANT: Bluebook White vs. Blue Pages
This guide covers the Bluebook's "white pages," which provide citation rules for academic papers. The Bluebook also has citation rules for legal memoranda and other practice-oriented materials (the "blue pages"), which students in LRWA-2 use for their memo assignments. This guide provides answers specifically to questions about the citation rules in the white pages, not the blue pages.

Getting Bluebook Citation Help from a Librarian

Research librarians are available to help you with your Bluebook citation questions.

1. You can come to the reference desk on the fourth floor of the law library for in-person help from a reference librarian.

Reference desk hours:

  • Monday-Thursday: 9am-7pm
  • ​Friday: 9am-6pm
  • ​Saturday and Sunday: 1pm-5pm. 

2. You can request a Bluebook consult meeting with a reference librarian.

Go to http://asklib.law.harvard.edu/ and click the Consult a Librarian link, or send an email to research@law.harvard.edu.

Chart of Bluebook Rules and Tables

Bluebook Classes for LLM Students

The library offers a series of Bluebook classes (each series is two sessions, one on U.S. sources and one on foreign and international sources) several times a year.

To sign up for the library's Bluebook classes, visit http://libcal.law.harvard.edu/calendar/researchtraining/ and, in the Search for Event box, type Bluebook. Then click Search.

The PowerPoint slides from the two classes are below. They include instructions for frequently cited sources, with examples.

Bluebook FAQ for LLM Students

IMPORTANT #1: If you have not attended the library's Bluebook classes, it may be helpful for you to review those slides first to find answers to general Bluebook questions. (The links are in the box just above this one.)

IMPORTANT #2: All of the FAQ answers use the 20th edition of the Bluebook, and so should you. It really provides the most up-to-date rules, especially for citing online sources.

If there is not a FAQ on this page that addresses your concern, and it is not discussed in the slides either, then try looking it up in the Bluebook's Index, which starts on page 525.

FAQ #1: Does the Bluebook have a short, simple list of citation examples for each rule?

Yes! Right inside the front cover there is a quick guide to the major rules, with citation examples. Use this as a quick reference if you can't remember which rule covers which type of source.

FAQ #2: I want to cite ____ (fill-in-the-blank source type) that I found online, but the Bluebook doesn't have a rule for ___. What do I do?

Rule 18 (starting on page 178) has general rule for citing pretty much every online source that you would cite in an academic paper, including websites, documents found online, blogs, social media posts, etc. So if you want to cite a source you found online, read Rule 18 first. 

Remember, the Bluebook really prefers that you cite to a print source. It has gotten more flexible over the years. However, for something like a law review article, even if you found it online, you still need to follow the instructions in Rule 16 (starting on page 159) to cite it.

FAQ #3: How do I cite a source that I've already cited in another footnote?

Instructions for doing this are in Rule 3.5: Internal Cross-References (p. 77).

Id.

If you cited only one source in footnote #1, and you want to cite the exact same source in footnote #2, that is when you use id. Only the source has to be the same, not the page or section.

Supra

For secondary sources like law review articles and books, if you want to cite a source that you cited longer ago in your paper than the previous footnote, you can use supra.

When you do a supra citation, you have to use the same font specifications as you did in the original citation. What does that mean? If you cited a book in the earlier footnote, you put the author's name in small caps. You have to do the same thing in the supra footnote. Footnote #7 in the example below illustrates this.

TIP: There are two ways to change text to small caps. Select the text. Then, either (a) access the Font edit window and select Small caps under Effects, or (b) press these keys at the same time: Ctrl + Shift + K.

 

"Short Forms" for Primary Sources

So what if you want to cite a case (or other primary source) that you have cited before? You cannot use supra for that. Instead, you have two options:

  • If you cited the case within the previous five footnotes, you can use a "short form" to cite the case in the current footnote. "Short form" rules for primary sources are at the end of each rule section (for example, short forms for cases is listed in rule 10.9 on page 115). This is shown in footnote #10 in the example below.
  • If you cited the case more than five footnotes ago, you have to cite the whole case again. This is shown in footnote #8 in the example below.

FAQ #4: When I add new footnotes, the numbering in supra citations gets messed up. How do I prevent that?

Most LLM papers are in a constant state of flux until they are turned in. Adding footnotes can be a problem if you already have supra references. In the example below, footnote #5 was just added. It cites a different law review article.

Take a look at footnotes #8 and #10 now. The Jackson book is no longer in footnote #5 after this addition, it's now in footnote #6. If you have 200 footnotes already done in your paper, you will have to go back and find each one that cites the Jackson book and change the 5 to a 6. What a pain!

Instead, what you should do from the very start is use MS Word's internal cross-reference feature. It's great! Here's how it works.

  1. Enter the first part of your footnote text, up to the word "note."
  2. On the Insert bar, click Cross-reference.
  3. In the Reference Type menu, select Footnote.
  4. Make sure that Footnote number is selected in the Insert reference to menu.
  5. Select the footnote you want to refer to in the footnote list.
  6. Click Insert.

If you do this, then it is very easy to update all the footnote number references later. Simply click in any footnote, press the Ctrl and A keys at the same time to select all the footnote text, and press the F9 key.

FAQ #5: What are the rules for using "see" and "see also" in footnotes?

See and see also are called introductory signals. They help explain why and how you are citing and using a particular source. There are several different types of signals:

  • E.g.
  • Accord
  • See
  • See also
  • Cf.
  • Compare
  • Contra
  • But see
  • But cf.
  • See generally

Rule 1.2 (page 58) explains their use.

Sometimes with signals, you may want to provide additional information that explains why you are citing a particular source. Rule 1.5: Parenthetical Information (page 64), explains how to do this. Footnotes #13 and #14 have been added to the example (below) to show how signals and parentheticals are used.

FAQ #6: How does "hereinafter" work?

Rule 4.2 (p. 80) explains both supra and hereinafter.

One use of hereinafter is if you cite two sources by the same author in the same footnote. You will need a way to distinguish them in later supra references. This is when hereinafter can come in handy. See footnotes #15 and #16 in the example below.

You may be asking why you can't use id. in footnote #16 above. Remember, you can only use id. if the previous footnote cited only one source.

FAQ #7: Are there special rules for citing primary sources that are not in English?

Instructions for citing foreign (non-English) materials are provided in detail in Rule 20.2 and in the individual country sections in Table T2.

Tip: Note that these rules sometimes overlap and contradict each other; do your best to follow the examples. Remember, the purpose of citation is to make it as easy as possible for someone to find your cited source. If you would like to add additional information to your citations to facilitate that, then do it even if it's not in the Bluebook.

 

Language of Materials Cited: English or Original?

Generally, when it comes to language version, you need to cite the source you are referring to, as detailed in rules 20.2.2 and 20.2.5.

  • If you are referring to a non-English source in its original language, you need to cite the original-language version (see footnote #17 in the example below).
  • If you are referring to a source that was translated into English, you need to cite the translated version (see footnote #18 in the example below).

In creating these two examples, the following rules were consulted (and some judgment calls were made):

  • Rule 20.2.5: Citations to Translations of Non-English-Language Documents
  • Rule 20.4: Constitutions (foreign)
  • T2.14: Germany (Constitution)
  • T2.23: Italy (Constitution)
  • Rule 15: Books, Reports, and Other Nonperiodic Materials
  • Rule 18: The Internet, Electronic Media, and Other Nonprint Resources

These examples may create more questions than they answer. For example, the German Basic Law is cited in small caps, whereas the Italian constitution is not (and, perhaps, should be). In this case, each of those citations were created according to the jurisdictional rules in T2.

Note that, in the end, these two sources may be cited differently by different U.S. law reviews. Journal editors make judgment calls about citation all the time. Just get it as close as you can to what the Bluebook says, make sure your reader can find what you're citing, and then don't stress about it anymore.

FAQ #8: Are there special rules for non-English secondary sources, like books and journal articles?

Cite foreign books just like U.S. books according to rule 15. For articles from foreign periodicals and newspapers, see rule 20.6. They are illustrated in footnotes #19 and #20 below.

Providing an English-language translation of foreign-language article titles is allowed, but not necessary. There is no stated rule on that topic for books.

FAQ #9: What aspects of American writing style generally cause the most problems for LLMs?

There are two major issues that come up in most LLM papers: capitalization in titles and footnote number placement in the text.

Capitalization in Titles

The Bluebook's capitalization rule, Rule 8, states the following regarding capitalization of words titles:

  • General rule: capitalize all words, including the initial word and the word immediately following the colon.
  • Exception to the general rule: do not capitalize the following:
    • Articles (such as a, an, the)
    • Conjunctions (these are words that connect words, sentences, or phrases, such as for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
    • Prepositions (such as with, by, in, on)
  • Exception to the exception: Capitalize any of those words if they are the first word of the title, the first word after a colon, or more than four letters.

Incorrect article title:
Hearing the voiceless: a respected judge on putting the rights of crime victims above those of defendants

Correct article title:
Hearing the Voiceless: A Respected Judge on Putting the Rights of Crime Victims Above Those of Defendants

 

Footnote Number Placement in the Text

In the text of the article, place the footnote number after any punctuation, including periods, commas, quotations marks, etc.

FAQ #10: How do I cite a footnote?

The rule for citing footnotes is on page 73.

In footnote #21 in the example below, the author is citing footnote #73 on page 54 of the article by Green.

FAQ #11: I want to cite as source from _____ (fill-in-the-blank jurisdiction). Are there special rules for that?

The Bluebook does provide rules for citing sources from selected jurisdictions, listed below with page number references to Table T2. If your jurisdiction is not included, follow the rules for a jurisdiction with a similar language and legal system as closely as you can.  

  • Argentina (p. 307)
  • Australia (p. 310)
  • Austria (p. 318)
  • Belgium (p. 323)
  • Brazil (p. 328)
  • Canada (p. 332)
  • Catholic Church (p. 341)
  • Chile (p. 341)
  • China (p. 344)
  • Colombia (p. 349)
  • Czech Republic (p. 351)
  • Egypt (p. 354)
  • France (p. 356)
  • Germany (p. 362)
  • Greece (p. 368)
  • Hong Kong (p. 370)
  • Hungary (p. 373)
  • India (p. 376)
  • Iran (p. 379)
  • Iraq (p. 382)
  • Ireland (p. 384)
  • Israel (p. 387)
  • Italy (p. 390)
  • Japan (p. 393)
  • Kenya (p. 402)
  • Lebanon (p. 404)
  • Mexico (p. 406)
  • Netherlands (p. 424)
  • New Zealand (p. 429)
  • Nicaragua (p. 434)
  • Nigeria (p. 436)
  • Pakistan (p. 439)
  • Philippines (p. 441)
  • Roman Law (p. 444)
  • Russia (p. 444)
  • South Africa (p. 451)
  • South Korea (p. 454)
  • Spain (p. 457)
  • Sweden (p. 460)
  • Switzerland (p. 464)
  • Taiwan (p. 469)
  • U.K. (p. 472)
  • Zambia (p. 489)