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Another method of citation?

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I'm sure you have heard of APA style citations, perhaps you have used MLA or Chicago style citations in the past. These three are the most commonly used citations in academic programs. But Legal professionals wanted to make citing even more difficult, enter The Bluebook.

In 1920, The Bluebook was first published by Karl N. Llewellyn. He was writing for the Yale Law Journal and wanted a standardized format for citing law journals. In the years that followed, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation has been tweaked, compiled and re-edited by Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal. Currently it is published and distributed by the Harvard Law Review Association. The original book was only 26 pages, today it a monstrous 365 pages!

Did we really need another method of citation? I think not. All of the citing methods are very similar. To show you an example of just how similar they are; I will take a paper and format it in the various styles, so you can see for yourself.


Michael Bacchus, Strung Out: Legal Citation, the Bluebook, and the Anxiety of Authority, 151 U. Pa. L. Rev. 245 (2002). Available at:

APA (7th edition)

Bacchus, M. (2002). Strung out: Legal Citation, “The Bluebook,” and the Anxiety of Authority. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 151(1), 245–276.

MLA (9th edition):

Bacchus, Michael. “Strung Out: Legal Citation, ‘The Bluebook,’ and the Anxiety of Authority.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, vol. 151, no. 1, 2002, pp. 245–76, Accessed 18 Feb. 2023.

Chicago/Turabian (16th edition)

Bacchus, Michael. “Strung out: Legal Citation, ‘The Bluebook,’ and the Anxiety of Authority.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 151, no. 1 (2002): 245–76.

First, you will notice that Bluebook is the only style that uses the authors first name to start the citation. Who alphabetizes by first name? Why would you want too? Next, why does Bluebook abbreviate the "University of Pennsylvania Law Review" as "U. Pa. L. Rev.?" Nobody is going to recognize that without really thinking about it. Finally; it is apparent that lawyers don't like using pg., pp., no., or vol., so they just omitted it from Bluebook. While I understand they want to short-hand as many things as possible, how do you know what these cites are referring too? Is that a page, or a volume number?

Law school is very different from my liberal arts undergrad program. Learning to write e-memos, and summarizing briefs, examining cases and statutes are all new skills that I have learned. I am thankful to the law practitioners who have come before me and I hope they had some fun while developing The Bluebook.

Another method of citation? © 2023 by Katherine Arroyo is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

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