Skip to Main Content

Criminal Justice

About The Bluebook

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of CitationThe Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is published by the editors of the law journals at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. Its purpose is to standardize and govern how legal documents are cited. It is currently in its 21st edition.

The Bluebook has three main sections, the Bluepages, the Whitepages, and the tables.

  • The Bluepages section covers citations rules for documents written by legal practitioners, such as legal memoranda and court filings. This section provides guidance for the everyday citation needs of law students, summer associates, law clerks, practicing lawyers, and other legal professionals. The examples used throughout the Bluepages are printed using simple typeface conventions common in the legal profession.
  • The Whitepages section establishes general standards of citation and style for use in all forms of legal writing. It also presents rules for citing specific kinds of authority. The examples used throughout this part are printed using typeface conventions standard in law journal footnotes. 
  • The tables are used in conjunction with the previous sections' rules and show which authority to cite and how to properly abbreviate citations.

Bluebook Citation Resources

These are some resources to help with using Bluebook style citations.

  • Harvard Law School Library Bluebook Legal Citation System Guide - This guide provides a thorough overview of what The Bluebook is, as well as how to use it, with a particular focus on the Whitepages.
  • Georgetown Law Library Bluebook Guide - This guide is intended for first year J.D. students studying legal writing and legal research. It covers the organization and layout of The Bluebook and how to cite the most commonly cited legal materials, including cases and statutes.
  • Purdue OWL Bluebook Citation for Legal Materials - This provides a basic overview with examples of several of the most commonly-cited forms of legal materials with examples.
  • Introduction to Basic Legal Citation - The full text of Peter W. Martin's book on the topic. It is primarily linked to The Indigo Book but it is also indexed to The Bluebook.
    • Citing Legally - This is a companion blog to Introduction to Basic Legal Citation. Its purpose is to highlight differences in citation practice among jurisdictions and distinctive approaches to the same. Its primary focus is on how judges and lawyers use citations, rather than how law journals do so.
  • Guide to the Delaware Rules of Legal Citation - Adopted in 2004, this revised guide to the Delaware rules governing legal citation and style is intended to provide uniformity, clarity, and consistency in the Superior Court's decisions, and to make life easier for each arriving generation of law clerks. The Guide is basedcon the Bluebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, internal Superior Court rules, and established Delaware Practice. Although it is intended to highlight the Bluebook, and not substitute for it, this guide provides a convenient, Delaware-specific resource.
  • RefWorks Write-N-Cite - This is a Microsoft Word plugin that allows you to quickly insert and edit citations from your Legacy or New RefWorks account, adding them to your bibliography as you go. Write-n-Cite for Word is available for both Mac and Windows (32-bit and 64-bit). It includes Bluebook (notes & bibliography) and Bluebook (notes only).

When to use Bluebook Citation

Although most courses offered at Wilmington University encourage the use of APA style formatting for papers and citation, this is not always the best option. Bluebook style citation is often helpful when students are writing for legal studies and paralegal classes.

These tips are provided to assist students who choose to use this formatting style for their assignments.

Note that although Bluebook style citation is used in most American legal documents, when following the APA format, Bluebook style does not have to be used to cite legal periodical articles or books.  The regular APA style covers this type of legal citations.

Access to The Bluebook

Wilmington University's library does not subscribe to The Bluebook online, nor does it own any volumes in print, so it is not possible to gain access to the most recent edition through Wilmington University resources. A free version of the 15th edition of The Bluebook is available from the Internet Archive, however, as of May 2021, The Bluebook is in its 21st edition.

For the most current version of the text, try the following:

  • The Bluebook Online - This is the official website where you can purchase a subscription to the online version of The Bluebook or print versions of the most recent edition. This is the complete version with the Bluepages and the Whitepages.
    • Quick Style Guide - This is an abbreviated version of The Bluebook available for free online. It provides examples for citing commonly used sources in accordance with The Bluebook's Whitepages, which are intended for use in law review footnotes. These examples are not accompanied by explanations.
  • Judicial Law Libraries - Every county in Delaware has a judicial law library which offers current and historic volumes of the Delaware Code, legal treatises on a variety of subjects, law reviews and reporters, self-help materials, and public access computers with Westlaw and Lexis, as well as copies of The Bluebook. Their materials cannot be checked out, but can be used on the premises.
  • The Indigo Book - The Indigo Book is an alternate citation manual available for free online that implements the same system of citation as The Bluebook, with a scope roughly equivalent to The Bluebook's Bluepages, meaning legal citation for U.S. legal materials, as well as books, periodicals, and internet and other electronic resources. It does not cover loose-leaf reports, foreign legal materials, or international organizations' publications.