Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bluebook on Display

[This is a guest post by Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow Marguerite Most.]

Whether you're returning to Duke after a summer away, or you're new to Duke Law School and just beginning your legal career, you'll soon learn that a new 20th edition of The Bluebook has arrived. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the legal citation manual followed by journals at Duke Law School, taught in the LARW course required of all 1L students, and used at most law schools nationwide. Print copies of the 20th edition are available on reserve at the Circulation/Reserve desk and the new electronic (subscription) version is available for purchase online.

For a practical introduction to the 2015 edition of The Bluebook, see the Goodson Blogson post of June 5 which announced this new 20th edition, highlighted several significant rule changes and linked to a list of differences between the 19th and 20th editions. A change that will surely please law review editors and cite-checkers is revised Rule 16(f), which allows citation to Internet and online newspapers in place of print newspapers. Rule 15.9(c) introduces a citation format for e-books and for citing e-book locations if page numbers are not available. Updates to existing rules include added guidance in Rule 18 on citing to archived Internet sources by using, a tool designed to combat "link rot" (broken URLs) by providing a permanent archival source for websites.

The history of The Bluebook is generally dated to 1926, when then-2L Harvard law student Erwin N. Griswold took home the Harvard Law Review citation pamphlet for a printer in Cleveland to make copies. Griswold went on to serve as dean of Harvard Law School as well as Solicitor General of the United States. In 1991, following the publication of the 15th edition, Alan L. Dworsky, a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, published a User's Guide to the Bluebook – at 54 pages, the Guide was more than twice the length of the first Bluebook. Dworsky noted in his User's Guide for the 19th edition, that the dominant authority legal citation form is still The Bluebook. Unfortunately, this Bluebook edition – like its predecessors – is "complicated, picky, and long." The new 20th edition is over 560 pages.

Other citation systems do exist. The ALWD Citation Manual is a publication of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and is used in some law schools across the United States. The Maroonbook: The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation was first published in 1989 and has its fans, including Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit. (Posner is no fan of the Bluebook; he has explained his preference for the Maroonbook in several articles posted on Chicago Unbound, the digital repository for the law school's faculty.) In the United Kingdom, lawyers and scholars look to the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA). In Canada they look to the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation.

Early Bluebooks, practice manuals designed to teach citation style to law students, and rival citation manuals are now on display in the Riddick Room cabinet, visible from the Reading Room on level 3. For anyone who prefers to examine early editions of the Bluebook online, links to PDFs of old editions from the 1st - 15th edition are posted on the Harvard Law School Library Blog.

For anyone with a serious interest in early legal citation styles, the Riddick Room display also includes several volumes illustrating early English citations from the Library's special collections. For a history of legal citation style in common law countries with citations to treatises and journal articles, begin with Anglo-American Legal Citation: Historical Development  by Byron D. Cooper, 75 Law Libr. J. 3 (1982). For anyone with only a passing interest in legal citations, suffice it to say, the author sets the stage in 1066 when William of Normandy crossed the English Channel and joined the history of England with the history of Europe – thus tracing citations back to Justinian’s Institute and Code a thousand years earlier.

Follow Citing Legally, a blog that covers "current issues of citation practice" for more fascinating news on legal citation style. For more help with finding or using a particular citation manual, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

-- Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow