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A Comprehensive Guide to Finding and Utilizing Bluebook Online for Free

Bluebook is an online legal citation system used by lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals. It is the most widely used citation system in the United States and is essential for anyone looking to cite legal documents accurately. While there are many paid versions of Bluebook available, there are also some free options that can be used to access the same information. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of how to find and utilize Bluebook online for free.

Finding Free Bluebook Resources

The first step in finding free Bluebook resources is to search the internet for “free Bluebook” or “Bluebook online”. This should bring up a variety of websites that offer free access to the Bluebook system. Many of these websites are maintained by universities or other organizations that offer free access to their legal databases. Additionally, some websites may offer limited access to certain parts of the Bluebook system for free.

Utilizing Free Bluebook Resources

Once you have found a website with free access to the Bluebook system, you will need to familiarize yourself with how it works. Most websites will provide instructions on how to use their version of the Bluebook system, so make sure you read through these carefully before beginning your research. Additionally, many websites will also provide helpful tips and tricks on how best to utilize their version of the Bluebook system.

Making Use of Free Resources

Once you have familiarized yourself with how the website’s version of the Bluebook system works, you can begin using it for your research needs. The most important thing is to make sure that you are citing your sources correctly according to the rules outlined in the Bluebook system. Additionally, make sure that you are using reliable sources when researching legal topics as this can have a major impact on your findings.

Using a free version of the Bluebook system can be an invaluable resource for anyone looking to accurately cite legal documents and research topics related to law. By following this guide, you should now be able to find and utilize free versions of the Bluebook online with ease.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


citation within sentence bluebook

  • Table of contents
  • Citing Judicial Opinions ... in Brief
  • Citing Constitutional and Statutory Provisions ... in Brief
  • Citing Agency Material ... in Brief
  • The Bluebook
  • ALWD Citation Manual
  • Introduction
  • Purposes of Legal Citation
  • Types of Citation Principles
  • Levels of Mastery
  • Citation in Transition
  • Who Sets Citation Norms
  • Electronic Resources
  • Judicial Opinions
  • Constitutions & Statutes
  • Agency & Exec. Material
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  • Law Journal Writing
  • Case Documents
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  • In Citations
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  • Citations & Related Text
  • Short Form Citations
  • Tables of Authorities
  • Changes in The Bluebook
  • Table: Bluebook
  • Table: ALWD Manual
  • Table: State-Specific Practices
  • Experiential Learning / Co-op
  • Public Interest Law
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Bluebook Citation: Common Building Block Rules

  • Common Building Block Rules
  • Bluepages v. Whitepages
  • Regulations & Adminstrative Opinions
  • Law Reviews/Articles & Other Non-Book Publications
  • Tables & Bluepages Tables
  • Electronic Resources
  • International Materials
  • Foreign Materials

Grammar, textual - citation sentences.

Remember that citations are sentences. They follow, as much as the blue book rules allow, sentence rules. E.g. capital letter to start and a period at the end. As with all legal writing, there are two spaces between sentences.

Signals - Rule 1.2

Signals are overly numerous and nebulous, and a citation sentence can include more than one. What are signals? Signals indicate in a citation the level and type of support a citation gives to the contextual sentence from which the footnote is appended to. Signals 

There are five types of signals :

  • Rule 1.2(a): signals that indicate support
  • Rule 1.2(b): signals that suggest useful comparisons
  • Rule 1.2(c): signals that indicate contradiction
  • Rule 1.2(d): signals  that indicate background material
  • Rule 1.2(e) : signals used as verbs

According to Rule 1.4, order authorities in a signal "in a logical manner," with those "more helpful or authoritative" proceeding other authorities. Distinct authorities are separated by semicolons. 

Page Numbering - Rule 3.2(a)

Page Numbers are addressed by Rule 3.2(a) .

Page numbers appear before the date parenthetical. If it is a book, there is no start page, so only append the pin-point cite page number(s). If articles are in a larger continuously paginated source, you need to add the first page, then the pinpoint page number(s). If the pin point cite refers to the first page, duplicate the number.

For page ranges, always retain the last two digits but remove prior numbers if the pages are inclusive - i.e. 1245-98, 1034-1122. 

Short Citation Forms - Rule 4

Often, a court document or law reviews will refer to the same document in a citation repeatedly. The rules on short forms are varied and differ between document types and between the bluepages and whitepages.

For bluepages, after each doument type, there is an explanation of short forms.

For whitepages, Rule 4 provides a list of subrules on short forms for each material type.

Non-material type short form tools include the use of " id." ( Rule 4.1 ) and supra ( Rule 4.2(a) ).

In law reviews, there is often an unwritten rule not to use " ids ." more than five times in a row. Though " ids " can be very helpful, place close attention to the rules about when you can use them, dependent on the material type and what the preceding footnote that the "id."  is referring to contains. Note the period is part of the "id." , and as such, should also be italicized.

Parentheticals - Rule 1.5

Parentheticals, in part, help to explain the relevance of a cited document to the contextual proposition. However, beware from over using them. Always ask yourself if the parenthetical explanation is really needed, either in that it should be in the text if important enough, or you are just attempting to fill in space by superfluous parentheticals.

Parenthetical explanations start with the present participial phrase (an "ing" word), is an exact quote, or when it is forcing the issue to use the former, a short statement.

Example : Caesar v. Pompey, 84 R.R. 345 (2003) (extolling the parties for not mediating).

NOTE: a space between the parentheticals, no capitalization of first word.

Eliminate spaces between single capitals - which includes number/letter combinations for circuits or editions (Rule 6.1). For example: S.E.2d, S.D.N.Y.2d, Fed. Cir. or D. Mass, etc.

Remeber that in legal writing, there are two spaces between sentences, and this includes citation sentences.

Other Elements

Capitalization (Rule 8)

See Rule 8, and the rules are generally common sense, but note the exceptions . For example capitalize any court when naming in full, or always when referring to the United States Supreme Court.

Quotations (Rule 5)

Things to note - quotations of fifty or more words need to be indented (Rule 5.1(a)(i)), and if the quote has paragraphs, copy(Rule 5.1(a)(ii). Quotations of fewer words require quotation marks (Rule 5.1(b)(i).

Alterations to quotations (Rule 5.2)

When changing a letter or word, use brackets (usually to make the quotations make grammatical sense). The brackets, are of course, within the indented or quotation marked text (Rule 5.2(a). Mistakes should be indicated by [sic] - leave the mistake! This is covered by Rule 5.2(c). If you add highlights to a quotation (i.e. not changing the lettering but font style, then indicate at the end within a parenthetical, example: (emphasis added) (Rule 5.2(d)(i).

Omissions in quotations (Rule 5.3)

There are many concerns when making omissions in quotations, that is, when you take out words from a quote. This is often the case when you want to quote lines that may be separated by something not as relevant. The bluebook uses ellipsis to indicate an omission - which is what? Three periods in a row. Read over the rule subdivisions to see when and how to use it. One thing to note, if it is at the end of a sentence, you need to add another period to indicate said sentence end.

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  • Last Updated: Dec 12, 2022 3:11 PM
  • URL: https://lawlibraryguides.neu.edu/bluebook

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Bluebook Legal Citation

  • Intro signals: E.g., See, See also, Cf., etc.

What Are Introductory Signals?

Supporting signals, comparison signals, contradictory signals, order of signals.

  • Order of authorities
  • Pages, Paragraphs, and Pincites
  • Short form: Id., Infra, Supra, Hereinafter
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Introductory signals appear at the beginning of citation sentences. Signals are important because they indicate how a cited authority relates to the text. This relation can be supportive, comparative, or contradictory. Signals can also inform a reader what inferential degree exists between the text and cited source.  

A reader can thus determine if a cited source supports or contradicts an author's assertion and whether it is necessary to take an inferential step between a cited source and the text simply by looking at the signal used.

Bluebook Rule (21st): 1.2(a)

Law Review Typeface For Introductory Signals:  Italics

Signals indicating that the cited work is supportive of the author's text are the most commonly used type of signal. There are six supporting signals:

[no signal]

The most frequently used are probably [no signal], E.g. , See , and See Also .

No signal is necessary if a cited authority:

  • directly states the proposition;
  • identifies the source of a direct quotation; or
  • identifies the source referred to in the text.

" E.g. ," is the abbreviation for the Latin phrase "exempli gratia," and can loosely be translated to mean "good example."  " E.g. " is used when the cited authority states the proposition and when citation to other authorities also stating the proposition would be unhelpful or unnecessary.  

NOTE : " E.g. " can be combined with other signals, such as " See ." When communed with another signal, the other signal should be given first, separated by an italicized comma but ending with a non-italicized comma:

See, e.g. ,

See is probably the most frequently used (and abused) introductory signal. It is used when the cited authority clearly supports a proposition but there is an inferential step between the proposition as stated and the cited authority. Although not a catch-all signal, it is often inappropriately used as such.

"See also" is used to cite to additional materials and authority that supports a proposition but when other authority has already been cited to using either See or [no signal].  An explanatory parenthetical stating the relevance of the additional material is strongly encouraged.

NOTE : It is not appropriate to use See also for general background-reading materials; in that case, the signal " See generally " should be used (rule 1.2(d)).  Again, an explanatory parenthetical explaining the relevance of the material is strongly encouraged.

Bluebook Rule (21st): 1.2(a),(b)

Law Review Typeface For Comparison Signals: Italics

Two introductory signals may be used to suggest a useful comparison: " Cf . " and " Compare ." 

" Cf ." is the abbreviation of the Latin word "confer," literally meaning "compare," but proper use of the two signals does vary in several key ways.

First, " Cf. " is classified as as signal indicating support (in rule 1.2(a)) rather than one of comparison.  This distinction is important when determining the order of signals and authorities, explained below.

Second, "Compare" "must be used in conjunction with ' with '" and used to offer a comparison between two or more cited authorities while "Cf. " may be used to compare a single authority with the textual proposition.

Stated another way, "Cf." is used when a comparison between the textual assertion and the cited source would support the proposition by analogy, while "Compare" is used when the comparison between two or more sources will tend to support or illustrate the proposition.

When using "Compare" as a signal, " Compare ," " with ," and the conjunction " and " should all be italicised and both " with " and " and " should be preceded by a comma:

Compare A , with B , and C.

Once again, the use of an explanatory parenthetical with either " Cf. " or " Compare " is strongly encouraged.

Bluebook Rule (21st): 1.2(c)

Law Review Typeface for Contradictory Signals: Italics

There are three signals for conveying negative or contradictory support:

  • But see ; and

"Contra" is used whenever the cited authority directly states a contradictory proposition and so is essentially the contradictory form of [no signal].

" But see " is used when the citation clearly supports a proposition contradictory to the textual assertion, and authority signaled by " But cf. " is analogously contradictory to the textual assertion.

NOTE : There is a sort of double-negative rule for contradictory signals - if another contradictory signal has already been used, omit the "But" from either But see or But cf .

Bluebook Rule (21st): 1.3

Law Review Typeface: N/A

Bluebook rule 1.3 prescribes the appropriate order when multiple signals are used.  Essentially, the order of signals is supporting, comparative, contradictory, and general background.  Within each general class of signal, signals are arranged in order of greatest to least direct relationship to the assertion - so a signal indicating a direct quote would come before one indicating an inferential step.

NOTE : With the exception of " See generally ," which would always be last if used, the order of signals as laid out in this guide is the appropriate order under rule 1.3.

  • << Previous: General Rules
  • Next: Order of authorities >>
  • Last Updated: Sep 6, 2023 10:57 AM
  • URL: https://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/bluebook-legal-citation

Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog

Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog

Citing to the Record in Briefs

  • Post author: Melissa Love Koenig
  • Post published: April 24, 2012
  • Post category: Legal Writing / Public
  • Post comments: 15 Comments

My students are currently finishing up their briefs on summary judgment. We have been discussing the importance of citing to the court filings in a summary judgment motion setting. Here are the major rules from the 19th edition of the Bluebook regarding record citation. “B” here refers to the rules from the Bluepages at the beginning of the Bluebook.

B7.1.1—Abbreviation in General

When citing to other court filings in the same case, abbreviate the titles of those documents and cite a paragraph or page within the document. The 19th edition of the Bluebook permits a writer to choose to enclose the cite in parentheses or not. For now, my preference is to use the parentheses. (What do readers think about this change in form?)

Example: (Jefferson Aff. ¶ 2.) or Jefferson Aff. ¶ 2.

Cites to the record use an “R. at page number” format. Example: R. at 5. or (R. at 5.)

If the citation refers to the entire sentence, it comes after the period in the sentence. Place a period before the end parenthesis.

Refer to B7.1.4 regarding citation with PACER/ECF.

Example: The Plaintiff was driving a blue Ford. (Williams Aff. ¶ 7.)

If the citation only refers to part of the sentence, place the citation within the sentence immediately after the fact supported by the cite. Assuming the sentence contains two cites, place the period for the second citation after the parenthesis to emphasize that the second cite refers to the latter half of the sentence.

Example: Jones was in studying in Chicago (Jones Aff. ¶ 6), and Carson was visiting South Dakota (Carson Aff. ¶ 8).

Example 2: Smith did not observe anything unusual that day (Smith Aff. ¶¶ 2-3), and he received no phone calls from Jones (Jones Aff. ¶ 10). Notice the hyphen in this example to show citation to consecutive paragraphs.

BT.1: Abbreviating Titles of Court Documents

This list should be used in conjunction with B7.1.1 to abbreviate titles of court documents.

Words of more than six letters may also be abbreviated, even if the words do not appear in the list.

Omit articles and prepositions.

Other words in a document title may be omitted if the document can be unambiguously identified.

B7.1.2—Pinpoint Citations

Use a page, paragraph, or line as a pincite (do not use p. before a page number). Separate line and page references with a colon.

Other subdivisions such as paragraphs should be identified. Per Bluebook Rule 3.3(c), use more than one paragraph symbol to indicate multiple paragraphs. Do not put a space between the two symbols (see examples above).

It’s customary to use “at” with appellate record cites, but the 19th edition does not require “at” with other page number references in record cites.


Use a date to emphasize a significant date or when documents are otherwise indistinguishable, such as when the same person has provided multiple affidavits.

Example: (Elliot Aff. ¶ 7, March 9, 2012) and (Eliott Aff. ¶ 6, March 29, 2012)

B7.2—Short Forms

Use short forms as applicable after the long form is first given.

The Bluebook allows the use of id. with record cites. Id. should be underlined or italicized consistently with other cites in the brief.

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Our dullened rhetorical swords, some modest predictions on the severability of the individual mandate, the making of a law professor, this post has 15 comments.

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Thank you for this helpful blog giving further clarification on the Bluebook.

I recently had a disagreement with a coworker about the use of punctuation preceeding record citations in a compound sentence with compound citations (as in your “Jones lived in Chicago…” example above). While I agreed with your lack of commas preceeding the parantheses, my coworker did not, which led us to emailing the editors of the Bluebook to settle the issue.

I thought you would like to know, so that your blog can be as accurate as possible, that the editor responded to me saying that he recommends the use of commas to offset the record citation in a compound sentence. For example: Jones went to school in Chicago, (R. at 5), but lived in Wisconsin, (R. at 8).

Keep up the good work!

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I continue to advocate the no-preceding-comma position, because enclosing the record reference in commas, while far better than only one comma before the reference, leaves the reader confused about whether the reference applies to the preceding info or the following info. By using only the comma following the page reference, it’s entirely clear that it belongs with the preceding text. Furthermore, what is in parens is parenthetical, meaning it can be removed without altering the sense of the text. Remove the R reference in the editor’s usage above leaves two commas separating the parts of the “Jones went to school” sentence.

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I am defending my case pro se and reading a lot of cases…I agree, the comma makes it very hard to figure out whether the citation applies to the preceding or subsequent text, especially in compound sentences with a lot of citations. As a layperson, I think more than one punctuation at a time is always unnecessary; legal writing needs to evolve to be more appropriate and useful and keep up with the times. It IS 2020 people, not just lawyers are reading this stuff, this is a DIY generation, help laypersons too.

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Now that The Bluebook allows the use of Id. for citations to the record, should Id. be in parentheses?

(Tr. 45.) Is the short form Id. or (Id.)?

Does it make a difference if the short form is Id. at 34?

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The Bluebook now makes it optional to use parentheses around your record cites. If you are using parentheses around your record cites, then you use them with all record cites, including those that contain Id. For example, the basic Id. cite would look like this: ( Id. ) I don’t think it would make a difference if you changed the pincite, so in your example: ( Id. at 34.)

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Is there a rule dictating that the period before the end of the parentheses? That is, why is it “(R. at 8.)” instead of “(R. at 8).”?

The difference between (R. at 8.) and (R. at 8). is that the former is a citation sentence form, where the citation comes after the sentence you’ve written, standing alone as a cite to the entire sentence. The period on the outside, as in the latter example, is appropriate in a citation clause format where you cite in two different places in a sentence. In that case, the period on the outside of the second citation clause signifies that the cite applies just to the second half of the sentence.

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Where an appeal arises from a grant of summary judgment, does the citation to the record in the statement of facts cite to the original source (e.g., affidavit) or to an admitted statement of fact?

I would recommend citing to the original source of a fact, such as an affidavit.

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This is very helpful to me. I am presently the Plaintiff and Pro Se litigant in 7th Dist. Ct, Chicago against IAMAW, Local 141(they have more money than the Vatican), “Breach of DFR”. I was fired from United Airline after 25 years, a co-worker pushed me in front of an aircraft that I was guiding to a gate. I am drowning but I must go on; I am the gate of Summary Judgment, my opposing response is due next Monday. For over 6 Months, the Judge has refused to appoint me an Attorney. On 8/4/15 he appointed me an attorney, the attorney did not get the message until 8/13 and I was just notified that the attorney has filed a motion for relief from assignment due to conflict of interest. His law firm is representing United as a non-party. I just filed a motion for an extension. The Local Rules are really difficult to navigate. Your article helped me in preparing my response. If you have the time take a look at Lionell Kline v. IAMAW District 141, IAMAW Local Lodge 1487 No. 14 CV 6369. The crux is United lied about video footage, when the video was finally located by a State agency, United had manipulated the footage, changed the images and really tampered with the images. The union still will not admit that the video exist. Thank for your guidance.

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Where do I put the period when there are additional parentheses in a citation sentence? If I follow the rule it looks like this: (Pl.’s Br. 6 (citing 42 U.S.C. 401(g)).) or (Doc. 56-2, Miller Contract (b).)

Your examples are correct. This is much like a full-sentence quote in a parenthetical cite to a case where you put the period to the sentence inside the end parenthesis and then add another period at the end of the citation.

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I believe putting the parentheses around citations makes for easier reading.


Parentheses are used to refer to material that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence, without the parentheses the sentence would still make sense.

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What is the proper way to make reference to page, paragraph and line/s from another pleading when writing your own pleading? Such as in an opposition to a motion. Currently I am writing within parenthesis the page symbol followed by the page number, then followed by the paragraph symbol before the paragraph number followed by a colon with the page lines of that paragraph with a dash mark in between the line numbers. Oh and if this is all at the end of a sentence I place a period after the line numbers within the parenthesis.

Thank you for any assistance.

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