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Quick Citation Guide: Home

A short description of citation resources available in the library.

Why legal citation?

"When lawyers present legal arguments and judges write opinions, they cite authority. They lace their representations of what the law is and how it applies to a given situation with references to statutes, regulations, and prior appellate decisions they believe to be pertinent and supporting. They also refer to persuasive secondary literature such as treatises, restatements, and journal articles. Court rules go so far as to authorize judges to reject arguments that are not supported by cited authority. Lawyers who appeal on the basis of arguments for which they have cited no authority can be sanctioned. As a consequence, those who would read law writing and do law writing must master a new, technical language: 'legal citation.'" - Peter W. Martin, Basic Legal Citation, § 1-000 (online ed. 2019) at https://www.law.cornell.edu/citation/

Introduction

This is a quick and basic guide to legal citation. Please see the many sources linked below for exhaustive treatment of the intricacies of legal education. Entire books can, and have, been written on the correct use of citation.
Analogy time:
The APA Publication Manual in liberal arts is to The Bluebook in Law School.
The Bluebook, copies available at the Circulation Desk, covers how to cite almost any imaginable document you will encounter in law school: cases, statutes, regulations, law review articles, books, and even Zambian statutes.

Quick Hints to Using the Bluebook

  • The Bluebook is divided into two mail parts - the blue pages (for practitioners) and the white pages (for use in Law Reviews)
  • Review the table of contents and the tables to get an idea of how the book is organized.
  • Rule 1 and its subsections contain rules on how to use signals.  This can be confusing.  Read these carefully.
  • Aside from Rule 18 (Internet sources - mostly free), most rules are referring to citing print materials. There are sub-rules that deviate from this norm for commercial databases - use these if citing to materials from Lexis/Westlaw/Bloomberg
  • Use the Index to find the rule on how to cite to a specific item - such as a secondary source. 
  • All rules and tables are listed on the table of contents on the back cover
  • Examples of how to cite to New Hampshire primary material is found in Table 1.3
  • Abbreviations for case names are found in Table 6
  • The inside front cover contains a quick guide for Law Review style and the inside back cover contains a quick guide for practitioner style.
  • Pay attention to the format of the citation (follow the diagram that is used a the start of each rule. 
  • If you need an example and can't find one in the Bluebook, try looking for an example in a major law review.

Books at the Library

Links contain information of the location and availability of the books.