Understanding Bluebook Referencing Style in 20 Minutes

Bluebook referencing is a uniform system of citing legal documents that are commonly used in the United States. It is essential for all legal practitioners especially students in their first-year learning how to cite statutes and cases. All Homework Solutions offers a guide on how to go about Bluebook referencing.

General Format

The general format used in Bluebook referencing is as follows:

  • The font used in Bluebook referencing is Times New Roman, font size 10, 1 line spacing and the alignment is justified.
  • In Bluebook referencing, a period must be used after every footnote.
  • Months in Bluebook referencing are abbreviated. Example: Jan, Feb.
  • In Bluebook referencing, a footnote will come before the closing bracket if the cited idea is in parentheses.

Types of Citations Used in Bluebook Referencing

They are two types of citations used in Bluebook referencing:

  1. Footnotes

In the Bluebook style of referencing, footnotes have a superscript number that corresponds to a relevant body at the end of the text. It indicates the relevant authority for the text that comes before it.

  1. Bibliography

In Bluebook referencing, the bibliography is found at the end of the text and is a list of all the sources used in the work.

Bibliography Guideline

Bluebook referencing is categorized into three main sections:

  • Tables of legislation
  • Tables of cases
  • Bibliography of secondary sources.

Table of Legislation

Table of legislation includes: Statutes, Legislations, Treaties, and Conventions cited. They should be arranged chronologically in alphabetical order, by the first important word in the title.

Table of Cases

As the name suggests, it is a list of all the cases cited in the text. Bluebook referencing recommends separating the cases according to jurisdiction. They should be arranged in alphabetical order.

Secondary Sources

All cited sources in Bluebook format are compiled together in the Bibliography at the end of the text and arranged alphabetically. Bibliography differs slightly from footnotes as demonstrated below:

Footnote: First name, surname- Alexander, Smith

Bibliography: Surname, first name- Smith, Alexander.

Referencing and Cross-Referencing

Many first-year students struggle with this concept in the Bluebook style of referencing, this guide aims to clarify this aspect in a simplified manner.

  • In Bluebook referencing, when referring to an authority that had already been mentioned in the text earlier, then you provide a cross-reference in brackets to alert the reader of the source being used and direct them there using the word


Initial Citation: Alexander Smith, Administrative Law (2005). We take an instance that it was used in the 3rd footnote.

Cross-reference: Smith, supra note 3

  • When the latter citation is following the preceding citation then use: id

Initial Citation: Alexander Smith, Administrative Law (2005)

Directly following citation, subsequent citation: id

Bluebook referencing and legal cases

Bluebook Referencing Guidelines

The Bluebook format uses very specific guidelines that will be broken down into a comprehensible guide from All Homework Solutions, that will have all Law scholars embracing this referencing style.

Primary Sources

US Cases

Party name | v. | Party Name | Volume Reporter Page | (Court Year)

United States v. Smith Enterprises, 323 F. Supp. 2d 217 (D. Mass. 2006)

  • Note that in Bluebook, if you have stated the full name of the case in the text, then only subsequent information will be used in the footnote that is: 323 F. Supp. 2d 217 (D. Mass. 2006)
  • Note that in Bluebook referencing, if you are referring to a specific judgment found in a paragraph, then you mention it after the volume:

United States v. Smith Enterprises, 323 F. Supp. 2d 217, 300 (D. Mass. 2006)

  • Note that in Bluebook references, US cases are not italicized.

U.S Legislation

Title | Code Abbreviation | § Section Number | Date of Code Edition

Cases and Legislations from Other Jurisdictions

In such instances in Bluebook, the citing should be done as it is done in the specific jurisdictions.


Alexander v Hilton [1987] 3 WLR 370

Smith Coalworks v The Mayor [2015] NZCA 643

Secondary Sources

Scholars of law are required to pay utmost attention in this section, as secondary sources account for more than half of the citations in Bluebook referencing.  This section will delve deeper into the correct format of citing secondary sources with elaborate examples from various sources.


Books with one author

Author, | title | (edition. | year)

Alexander Smith, Administrative Law, (2 ed. Oxford University Press, 2013)

Books with two authors

Author 1 & Author 2, | title | (edition. | year)

Alexander Smith & Frankenstein White, Administrative Law, (2 ed. Oxford University Press, 2010)

Books with three authors

Author 1, Author 2 & Author 3 | title | (edition. | year)

Alexander Smith, Frankenstein White & Bill Ryan, Smith, White $ Ryan on Administrative Law (15 ed. 2013)

Books with more than three authors

In Bluebook referencing, in instances where they are more than three authors then; you mention only the first author followed by ‘et al.’, but all the authors must be mentioned in the bibliography.


Author 1 et al., | title | (edition. | year)

Alexander Smith et al., Administrative Law (5 ed. 2002)


Consecutively paginated journals

In Bluebook referencing, this is where the journal contains volumes and consecutive page numbers.


Name of Author, Title of Article, Journal volume no. ABBREVIATION OF JOURNAL Page on which Article Begins, Page Cited (Year).

Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 YALE L.J. 733, 737-38 (1964).


In instances, where they are more than two authors, write the name of the author appearing first followed by et al.

Non-consecutive paginated journals

In Bluebook referencing, this is where the journal issues are separately paginated


Name of Author, Title of Article, ABBREVIATION OF JOURNAL, date of issue as appears in the cover, at first page of work, page cited.

Barbara Ward, Progress for a Small Planet, HARV. BUS. REV., Sept.-Oct. 1979, at 89, 90.

Newspaper Articles

In Bluebook referencing, newspaper articles are divided into printed and online.

Printed Newspaper article

Author’s name, Name of Article/ news report, ABBRV. OF NAME OF NEWSPAPER, Month Date, Year, at pg. no

Ari L. Goldman, O’Connor Warns Politicians Risk Excommunication over Abortion, N.Y. TIMES, June 15, 1990, at A1.

Online Newspaper article

Author, | title | newspaper | (year of publication) | <Website URL>

Sarah Boseley, PrEP HIV drugs: fight for limited NHS funds takes unedifying turn, The Guardian, 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/03/prep-hiv-drugs-fight-for-limited-nhs-funds-takes-unedifying-turn>


Name of the Author, Name of article, INSTITUTIONAL OWNER OF DOMAIN (Month date, year, time), URL.

Eric Posner, More on Section 7 of the Torture Convention, THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY (Jan. 29, 2009, 10:04 AM), http://www.volokh.com/posts/1233241458.html

Points to note:

Format the date as illustrated: Month(Abbreviated), date and year.

Do not use the words at or available before the website.

Ensure to write the URL as it appears in the browser.

Take Home Points

The Bluebook style is quite manageable as illustrated in the above guide. For additional information on Bluebook referencing, scholars should visit our site where the support team is active 24hours and will be of service to both amateurs and ancient law scholars.

Are you interested in mastering the bluebook referencing style? This bluebook referencing guide offers all the insight.

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