The Bluebook


The Bluebook evokes strong feelings among its users. Some love it for its detailed rules, multiple tables of abbreviations, and obsession with punctuation, and others hate it for the exact same reasons. So every five years or so, when a new edition of the Bluebook is released, some eagerly study it, and others groan at the thought of relearning some rules and shelling out another $40.

This summer, the 20th edition of the Bluebook was released, bringing small and large changes to sure to delight or annoy, depending on your perspective.

Some rules were clarified (how to cite a single footnote within a range of pages), some were changed (you no longer have to indicate “internal quotation omitted”), and some are brand new (citing ebooks). Not unexpectedly, a number of the updates reflect the changing information world. There is now guidance for citing social media, using internet archival tools, and direct citation of internet sources.

A long overdue change is the allowance of citation to online versions of newspaper articles, rather than print versions. However, print remains the preferred format for many types of materials, even those that are not always easily available in print.

The first edition of the Bluebook had 26 pages and the 20th has 560 pages. Clearly, legal citation has grown in scope and complexity over time. There are often calls for simplifying legal citation, but so far, the Bluebook’s hold has not loosened.


Pace Law Library has a chart [ ] identifying changes between the 19th and 20th editions.

If legal citation is your thing, and you want to read more, Citing Legally [ ] is a blog devoted to legal citation.

The library has a number of copies of the new edition [ ] available for checkout.

Image credit: Sarah Deer via Flickr [ ]


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Anne Rajotte
Reference Librarian,UConn Law

Anne provides general and in-depth reference services, including research assistance and instruction, in all areas of the law.  She oversees the library’s faculty research service, including hiring, training, and supervising the library’s research assistants.  She holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School and an M.L.S. from Southern Connecticut State University.  While in law school, Anne was the editor-in-chief of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, and she has also served as a judicial clerk for the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court and a civil litigator with a law firm in Connecticut.