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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The New Bluebook (18th Ed): Rush to Get Your Copy


The new 18th edition of The Bluebook is out!  I can hardly contain my excitement!  I haven't obtained my copy yet (actually, I haven't used The Bluebook since law school), but this edition promises a “bold new look and a colorful, user-friendly design.”  It also has “attractive new fonts.”  Wow!  I might just have to get a copy.   

The Bluebook’s website says:

The Bluepages, new to the Eighteenth Edition, is a how-to guide for basic legal citation. Unlike the remainder of The Bluebook, which is designed in a style and at a level of complexity commensurate with the needs of the law journal publication process, the Bluepages provides easy-to-comprehend guidance for the everyday citation needs of first-year law students, summer associates, law clerks, practicing lawyers, and other legal professionals.

Apparently, The Bluebook really consists of two citation guides for the price of one – a Bluebook for the law journals and one for the rest of the world which is assumed to be too stupid to operate at the “level of complexity commensurate with the needs of the law journal publication process.” 

Another goodie from the website:

Rule 18 (Electronic Media and Other Nonprint Resources) has been almost completely rewritten to account for increasing use of Internet citation. Major changes include the categorization into two kinds of Internet citations (direct and parallel), the expanded use of analogy in Internet citation, and the addition of citation formats for blogs.

Of course, just one kind of Internet citation won’t do, so more must be created.  By the next edition, I expect at least a dozen different kinds of Internet citation.  And there’s a new citation format for blogs.  It is interesting that blogs are beginning to be cited in law review articles.  I didn’t believe this at first, but my colleague Orin Kerr showed me numerous instances of articles citing to Volokh Conspiracy posts.  Now that there’s a citation format for blog entries, please cite my blog posts with frequency and gusto. 

I’ve always found The Bluebook to be an odd creature of the legal profession.  First of all, students decide the citation formats that are used by professors, lawyers, and judges.  Second, The Bluebook is an ever-growing system of rules.  It is designed to be complicated.  If the system were simple, then there would be little need for The Bluebook, as people could readily learn it.  Perhaps all that would be needed would be a blue pamphlet.  So the system is filled with complex rules that create tremendous busy work among student law review editors, who have the laborious task of making professors’ citations comply with these arcane rules.  (Most professors only loosely follow the format, based on their fading memories of the rules, because they know that law review editors will diligently do the work.) 

Additionally, The Bluebook requires many needless footnotes and parentheticals that add nothing much of value.  Common sense would suggest a system of citation that just made sure that essential information about sources were included so that a reader would know how to find them.  But, alas, lawyers crave rules.  If The Bluebook didn’t already exist, it would have to be invented.      


Posted by Daniel Solove on May 31, 2005 at 11:06 PM in Daniel Solove, Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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I wish I didn't live on a leaky old sailboat, on the West Coast of Florida lately attracting Hurricanes like a magnet, having to buy toothpaste with what's left of last year's FEMA money -- instead of that great new Bluebook with the proper internet citation forms I really need to write my Petition to the Supreme Court.

Posted by: Mary Katherine Day-Petrano | Jun 12, 2005 3:00:07 AM

Well, aside from the institutional power of being beholden unto no editorial board, is there a reason the USSC should use the bluebook?
Besides, as long as it is consistent and comprehensible, does it really matter?

Posted by: Joel | Jun 2, 2005 9:45:05 AM

Can anyone explain why the California Supreme Court does not use the Bluebook? Just curious. I have had to conform to California Supreme Court citations as well as the rest of the World's. I am just wondering why this particular Court bucks the trend. History? Preference of the Justices? A better system? The California Supreme Court gets royalties from the sale of the book they use? I personally like the Bluebook.

Posted by: Mary Katherine Day-Petrano | Jun 1, 2005 6:40:12 PM

ALWD does a good job of a consistent and sensible form of citation. It is effective without being overdone. IMHO.

Posted by: Joel | Jun 1, 2005 11:53:23 AM

Remember the Maroon Book? It was the last gasp of rationality in this field.

Posted by: Dennis J. Tuchler | Jun 1, 2005 10:57:50 AM

"If the bluebook did not exist, everything would be permitted." F. Dostoevsky, lawyer.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Jun 1, 2005 9:34:57 AM

Actually, the first edition of the Bluebook was indeed a blue pamphlet. It was very small, and actually kind of cute.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 1, 2005 9:14:56 AM

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