Formatting Friday: The Background on Bluebook
March 30, 2018
While the majority of our clients use APA style or Chicago/Turabian (don’t worry, we’ll get to that style on the blog, we promise!), we have a considerable client base that uses Bluebook style for formatting. If you’ve never heard of Bluebook, you’re not alone. Most people outside of the legal world probably have little cause to use this formatting style, but for those who do, it can be incredibly challenging. Bluebook, officially known as The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, is the most widely used legal citation style, and used by most law schools for academic work. The guidelines within Bluebook are collected by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law review, and the Yale Law Journal. While not a guide to formatting the actual paper per se, Bluebook is a guide to formatting the citations within a document, as well as various elements within the paper, like law review typefaces, numerals and abbreviations, italicization, and titles of judges and officers.
Right now, the most current edition of the style guide is the 20th edition. In addition to most U.S. law schools and many schools overseas using it, most federal courts use it for reports and documents, as well. There are often state court variations or addendum guides to formatting, and some law schools might also have their own idiosyncrasies with formatting – in which case, the school/program/court guidelines always take precedence. The Bluebook style guide can be intimidating – clocking in at more than 500 pages, it’s a hefty tome, and can get pretty complicated. In fact, there are guides to the Bluebook to be used as supplements, there are simplified versions of it like the University of Chicago’s “Maroonbook,” and there are even various streamlined versions of it that you can find online.
If you’re having difficulty organizing your paper and citations per Bluebook guidelines, contact us to see how we can help! This formatting style is especially tricky and detailed, and we have Bluebook experts on our editing team. Our experts are JDs who have been where you are, and can help you navigate the demands of formatting your paper in this style.