Blue Book Referencing Guide

Bluebook is a style of referencing which is the most used legal citation system in the United States, used at the majority of US law schools. A complete guide to the rules can be found in: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

Bluebook Referencing Overview

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There are two types of citations required:

  1. Footnotes 
    - used to indicate the authority for the preceding text or idea. There will be a superscript number in-text which corresponds to the relevant authority at the bottom of the page.
  2. Bibliographies 
    - located at the end of the work, and include a categorised list of all sources used in the work. A full explanation of the bibliography can be found at the end of this guide.

General guidelines

Under the Bluebook guidelines, each authority should be cited in a consistent, uniform manner. The different categories of sources are cited in different formats. Before examples are given, some general rules should be mentioned:

  • The footnote should appear after the relevant punctuation in the text, unless for clarity it is necessary to put it directly following the word or phrase
  • If the cited phrase/idea is inside brackets, the footnote should be before the closing bracket
  • Footnotes should be closed with a full stop
  • Semi-colons may be used to separate a reference to two different sources in a footnote

Repetition of references and cross-references

When referencing an identical authority to one already referenced you may briefly identify the sources and provide a cross-citation in brackets directing the reader to the number of the corresponding footnote. In the example below, the citation was used in the 4th footnote, therefore the subsequent citation directs the reader to that footnote with 'supra note'

Initial citation: John Roberts, Understanding the Law. (1990)

Subsequent citation: Robertssupra note 4

If the subsequent citation is directly following the previous citation, you may use id

Initial citation: John Roberts, Understanding the Law. (1990)

Directly following, subsequent citation: Id

You can insert a page number following the cross-reference or ibid to cite a different page of the same authority.

Footnotes Example

Bibliography guidelines and examples

The bibliography should be split into three main sections:

  • Table of legislation
  • Table of cases
  • Bibliography of secondary sources

Table of legislation

The table of legislation should include all treaties, conventions, legislation and statutory instruments cited. These should be ordered in alphabetical order by the first significant word of the title. You may choose to separate the legislation by jurisdiction.

Table of cases

The table of cases should include any cases cited in the work. These should be listed in alphabetical order of the first significant word. You may choose to separate the cases by jurisdiction.


The bibliography should include all secondary sources cited in the work in alphabetical order.

The referencing in the bibliography for all sources will be identical to the referencing in the footnotes, aside from one minor difference in the formatting of the authors name.

Footnotes: First name, surname - John Smith

Bibliography: Second name, first name - Smith, John

Bluebook Reference guidelines

The following guidelines give examples of the citation required in the footnote, so remember to make the required amendments to the author's name in the bibliography.

Primary sources

US Cases

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

United States v. Legault, 323 F. Supp. 2d 217 (D. Mass. 2004)

If you have stated the full name of the case in the text, only the subsequent information is required in the footnote. For the above example, the footnote would only read

323 F. Supp. 2d 217 (D. Mass. 2004)

If you are referencing an exact paragraph/passage of the judgement, a pinpoint reference to the relevant part in the judgment should follow the volume page citation.

United States v. Legault, 323 F. Supp. 2d 217, 220 (D. Mass. 2004)

US Legislation

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

17 | U.S.C. | § 107 | (2012)

42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(c)(ii) 2004

Cases and legislation from other jurisdictions

These should be cited as they are cited in their own jurisdiction.

Nettleship v Weston [1971] 3 WLR 370

Kerryn Mitchell v The Queen [2015] NZCA 643

Secondary sources

Books with one author

Author, | title | (edition. | year)

Robert Stewart, Land Law, (3 ed. Oxford University Press, 2013)

James Mattey, Quantity Surveying, (2 ed, Butterworths, 2012)

Books with two authors

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

Roger Sexton & Barbara Bogusz, Land Law, (2010)

Books with three authors

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

Stephen Mayson, Derek French & Christopher Ryan, Mayson, French & Ryan on Company Law (18 ed. 2001)

Books with four or more authors

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

Harry Root et al., Management and Ethics (5 ed. 2002)


Author, |title | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article | (year).

Matthew Gibson, Getting their "act" together? Implementing statutory reform of offences against the person, 9 Crim LR 597 (2016)

Website and blogs

Title, | Website | (date), | <Website URL> | last visited <date>

Divorce petitions: then and now, Marilyn Stowe (2016), last visited 3 August 2016

Newspaper Articles (Printed)

Author, |title | newspaper | year of publication | at <page number(s)>

Robert Simmons, Protests held in Australia over the abuse of animals in Zoos, The Guardian, 2011, at 22-23

Newspaper Articles (Online)

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

Sarah Boseley, PrEP HIV drugs: fight for limited NHS funds takes unedifying turn, The Guardian, 2016, <>

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